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The genesis of ICC World Cups

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Editor: Let me seize this timely opportunity to whet supporters’ appetite with this nostalgic genesis of ICC World Cup. This thirty-three year old tournament was introduced on the threshold of the West Indies era of invisibility. Naturally, the Clive Lloyd-skippered West Indies secured first reign. The Australia versus West Indies Finals brought the gazelle-like fielding of a young Vivian Richards to the fore.{{more}} The vulturous Richards, lurking in the covers, bulls-eyed three Aussie batsmen short of their crease!

The 1979 version saw a more clinical and ruthless West Indies successfully defending their title. Again, Vivian Richards headlined the Finals, this time with the bat. His mature 138 not out, along with Colis King’s blistering 88, staged a West Indian fight back after they were precariously placed .However, the West Indies was unable to repeat this feat four years later as they limply surrendered the title to an out of depth India. Henry Blowfell, a prominent English cricket commentator, termed it as “the greatest upset in the history of all sports!”

The 1987 World Cup was the first played outside of England. It is best remembered by English skipper Mike Gatting’s foolhardy reverse sweep which caused the Englishmen the title. After two unsuccessful Finals, the Aussies under the leadership of a ravenous Allan Border, lifted the trophy for the first time. With their glory days coming to an end, the West Indies failed to reach the Finals for the first time. Notably, they were without the services of Skipper Lloyd and a cadre of key players for the first time.

Imran Khan’s “group of talented misfits” wrested the cup, played in coloured clothing for the first time, four years later. The fairy-tale win was testament to inspired leadership after the Pakistanis were under the pump, effectively having to win their last five matches. New Zealand’s revolutionary move to open the bowling with spin and opener Mark Greatbatch slugging were features of this competitive World Cup. This floodlight era ushered in exciting cricketers like Sachin Tendulker, Brian Lara, Inzimum Ul-Hag and Shane Warne.

1996 saw the much fancied Sri Lankans further revolutionalizing the game with their pinch-hitting during the mandatory fifteen over field restriction. The exciting Sri Lankans were deserved champions, embellished by a polished Aravinda de Silva century. Cracks in Windies cricket surfaced during their semi-final farce in which the tail-enders swung for the fences, leaving a hapless Richie Richardson stranded at the non-strikers end. It was also the year the Windies suffered the ignominy of a Kenyan defeat in captain Richardson’s “just another match”.

1999 ushered in the era of Australian invincibility. The Steve Waugh-led Aussies swept all comers on their way to a second title reign. The semi-finals featured Herschelle Gibb’s drop catch and Allan Donald’s nerve shattering run out. The former prompted the Aussie skipper’s comment, “Mate, you’ve just dropped the world cup!” The Australians went on to repeat their triumph in 2003, this time with clinical ruthlessness under Ricky Ponting’s captaincy.

The 2007 World Cup is best forgotten by West Indians because of the draconian regulations instituted by a timid WICB. The West Indian was literally taken out of this West Indies-hosted World Cup, robbing the rest of the world an opportunity to view the uniqueness of the Caribbean people. The sights and sounds of the West Indies were non-existent as the Australians convincing retained their title in the twilight of the Kensington evening.

Who is going to win ICC World Cup 2011? My money is on South Africa.

Collin CA$H Haywood