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The Ten

The Ten: Extraordinary World Cup Happenings – From India’s 1983 miracle to Gilchrist’s Barbados blitz

1983 World Cup
Richard H Thomas by Richard H Thomas
@rich_thomas99 6 minute read

From Gary Gilmour’s one-man demolition to Yuvraj’s six sixes – Richard Thomas picks out some extraordinary happenings from the Cricket World Cup history.

First published in 2009

10) India stuns the West Indies

India had struggled with one-day cricket up until the 1983 World Cup, and their first ODI captain Ajit Wadekar happily admitted they had “no idea of field placings or tactics”. The 24-year-old Kapil Dev led a youthful side into the tournament and embraced the shorter game himself well enough; in the group stages a spectacular 175 off 138 balls against Zimbabwe rescued his team from a desperate 17-5, and after a semi-final victory over Australia, his 66-1 outsiders met the formidable West Indies. No one gave them a chance. It started badly for India – Roberts, Holding and co restricted them to a paltry 183 – but then, inexplicably, the might of Greenidge, Richards and the rest succumbed for 140 to innocuous-looking but lethal medium pace. The wobbly seam bowlers set down a blueprint for miserly medium pace one-day bowlers thereafter. Dev’s spectacular catch to dismiss Sir Viv is perhaps the iconic moment when India took a grasp on the one-day format that has hardly loosened since.

9) Australia crawl to victory

A star-studded match that looked like one to savour – in reality it was as shameful as the notorious underarm delivery and did little for the game’s profile. Chasing a meagre 111 after Glenn McGrath’s 5-15, after a mid-order blip Steve Waugh and Michael Bevan took 13 overs to score the last 19 runs, their soporific progress carefully manipulating the run rate to ensure they took some residual points, along with the West Indies, through to the next round. Australia’s cunning ultimately paid off – they won a disappointing Lord’s final against Pakistan, but few neutral spectators at the Old Trafford sell-out would have celebrated too hard.

8) Gilchrist’s innings

The shambolic World Cup of 2007 at least had moments to savour. Amid variable pitches and facilities, and an itinerary drawn out over seven weeks, it became a salutary lesson for future tournaments. At least the batting of Adam Gilchrist could never be suppressed, and his performance in the final against Sri Lanka was a magnificent finale that the whole affair hardly deserved. With half-centuries in his previous two World Cup Final innings, he smashed eight sixes in 149 from 104 balls, and with some controversial help inside his batting glove from a squash ball to aid his straight hitting, not even the farcical end-of-match shenanigans about the light could take the gloss off this display of savagery.

7) Gary Gilmour’s one-man demolition

Two years before another Gary Gilmour made murderous headlines on Death Row, the burly New South Welshman put in probably the most devastating all-round performance in World Cup history and scuppered English hopes in the 1975 semi-final. With his left-arm swingers ideally suited to the Leeds conditions, he took 6-14 as England capitulated for 93, then coming in at number eight rescued his own side with a robust run-a-ball 28 to see them home after a mid-innings slump. Despite another five wickets in Clive Lloyd’s final, Gilmour had a patchy career thereafter and never fulfilled his potential.

6) Yuvraj dispatches Broad

Perhaps stung by the treatment he received two weeks earlier when Dimi Mascarenhas hit him for five consecutive sixes, Yuvraj took dazzling retribution and went one better against England at Durban in the inaugural World Twenty20 in 2007, registering an over of maximums against poor Stuart Broad. In contrast to the manic TV commentary by Shastri and Lloyd, Yuvraj himself was fairly placid about it all – “The first one was the longest one. Second one was, I think, square; third one was long-off; fourth was over point; fifth was a mishit over mid-wicket and sixth was again to long-on.” Broad took it on the chin, wisely saw it as part of his cricketing education and happily, there seem to be no permanent scars.

5) Viv Richards’s hat-trick of run outs

He was still a swaggering young swashbuckler making his way with Somerset, long before knighthoods and batting helmets – not that he ever had any need for one of those. Having made only five in the wake of Clive Lloyd’s onslaught in the final against Australia, Viv Richards’s first big announcement to international cricket was a trio of run outs which were as vital to his team’s triumph as his captain’s memorable century. As Richie Benaud remarked at the time, ruefully reflecting his countrymen’s folly, “You should never run on a misfield”. Richards didn’t make too many of those, and even when he did, perhaps they were just so he could re-live his panther-like swoop and throw, and the famous dancing celebration that followed.

4) England Women’s treble

Over the last 10 years England Women’s team have had their fair share of success, with their treble of 2009 perhaps the highest point. Having already secured the Ashes, their final-over World Cup victory over New Zealand in Australia in March was the second element of the treble, and a regulation win, again over New Zealand, in the first-ever Women’s World T20 tournament made it three from three. The naming of Claire Taylor and Charlotte Edwards as Wisden’s cricketers of the year since demonstrates the growth of the women’s game.

3) Olonga and Flower’s black armband protest

One tumultuous event at Harare in 2003 will forever put Andy Flower’s achievements on the cricket field, and those of his colleague Henry Olonga, in perspective. Both distressed about the seemingly systematic dismantling of democracy in Zimbabwe, they protested with black armbands in the group match with Namibia, released a gut-churning statement, and in doing so made themselves marked men with transient futures. Indeed the engaging Olonga was prevented from boarding the team bus and, like Flower, made a new home in England. Commenting on their stand, the journalist Donald Trelford spoke for many when he said that the two shone “like diamonds in a pile of mud”.

2) Pakistan’s 2009 success

Following the 2007 Caribbean debacle, cricket needed a tournament like this but could scarcely have hoped for what they got. The right length, with the requisite number of shocks and with some sparkling individual brilliance, purists could only purr with satisfaction that two cricketing nations with more troublesome baggage than most should rightfully take their places in a festival final occasion at Lord’s. Ultimately, Pakistan’s win was a comfortable one but after 17 days that unveiled the sublime talents of Tillakaratne Dilshan and Umar Gul and reinforced the majesty of Shahid Afridi, it sent a resolute message of solidarity to those who had tried to derail subcontinent politics, and sport, in such horrifying scenes in Lahore a few months earlier.

1) England’s opening day shocker

England fans may have consoled themselves with gallows humour about windmills, tulips and Johan Cruyff, but there can be no denying the embarrassing failure to overcome the Dutch in the curtain-raiser of the 2009 World Twenty20. To lose on the night to the better team was perhaps even more worrying, and in retrospect, maybe Messrs Pietersen, Mascarenhas and Swann should have been selected, even if KP was hobbling with an achilles problem. In the event, after a damp and strangely low key opening ceremony, it was an unpleasant shock for England and even though they had bright moments later in the tournament, the calamitous last-ball chaos won’t be easily forgotten. For the Netherlands, it was a step nearer being taken seriously on the world stage even though this wasn’t the first time that they had pouched England’s scalp – captain Jeroen Smits was 12th man when an England XI featuring Alec Stewart and Nasser Hussain were similarly humbled in 1989, although that defeat was put down to what went on the night before. Peter Borren reflected after his team’s victory: “If we can’t play another game of cricket, we will always have beaten England at Lord’s”.

First published in 2009

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