A stupendous display of cricketing prowess is at play with the 12th edition of the ICC World Cup tournament currently underway in England. A few not- so- big surprises apart, it’s been a relatively smooth sailing exploit of heroics on the pitch this time, at least till now. However, it isn’t always that the much anticipated quadrennial cricketing extravaganza is without hits and misses.
Over the years as the World Cup has evolved to be a bigger and better platform for competing for the ultimate glory in the world of cricket, records are being made and broken at will and weird instances and events continue to dot the global spectrum of international cricket. Here are some of the most interesting facts about the ICC World Cup from its glorious years in history-
Cheering for the national colors is a very World Cup thing that just about brings about exhilarated emotions to fray. But the World Cup has not always been so drenched in color. It was only in 1992 that players begin to don national colors while playing in the World Cup. Till then, all whites used to dominate the game of the bat and ball.
Earlier world cups weren’t just tedious in the whites. They were lengthy as well with 60 overs a side affair till 1987 when the 50 over format was finally introduced.
The only countries in the history of the tournament to have claimed the Cup in both its 60 overs and 50 overs format are Australia and India.
India is also the only country to have also held the World Twenty20 trophy, apart from the 60 overs and 50 overs Cup.
Even for this distinctly gentle’man’ly game, it was the women’s cricket world cup that was initiated earlier. The men’s cricket world cup is in fact two years younger to its female counterpart, which was conceived of in 1973!
While England not having a single World Cup trophy in its kitty despite being the mother of the game is indeed sad, there are other sadder things in sight. Graham Gooch of the country is the only player to have represented his nation in three different world cup finals in different decades, only to end up losing all of ’em!
Another sad saga is that of Sri Lankan batsman Marvan Atapattu. Twice in World Cup finals, this man didn’t get the chance to play the game despite being in the team. Once versus Australia in 1996 when Sri Lanka in fact went to lift the trophy and later in 2007 against the same opponents when his country ended as the runner’s up.
A player with two separate international cricketing careers, Kepler Wessels is the only man to represent two different countries in the World Cup as full member. Wessels played three matches for Australia in the 1983 World Cup. Nine years later , he returned to lead his home country South Africa in nine matches in the 1992 World Cup.
Three other players Anderson Cummins, Ed Joyce and Eoin Morgan have also represented two different nations in World Cup tournaments but none have been full members.
Even more interestingly, Ed Joyce represented England and Eoin Morgan represented Ireland in the 2007 world cup. Four years later tables turned as Eoin Morgan represented England and Ed Joyce represented Ireland!
Sri Lankan cricketer Nuwan Kulasekara holds the distinction of bowling the last ball of the 2011 World Cup and also the first ball of the following 2015 World Cup!
The World Cup has also not been free from glitches. The final of the 2011 tournament had coins be tossed twice to determine the course of the game.
In the climax match between India and Sri Lanka, Indian captain MS Dhoni went for the toss with opposition captain Kumar Sangakkara having to call on that. However Sangakkara was not audible to match referee Jeff Crowe who then opted for the coin to be tossed a second time. Sangakkara called heads and after winning the toss elected to bat first against the eventual champions.
Legendary Pakistani cricketer Imran Khan came back from international retirement to lead the national team to victory in the 1992 edition of the World Cup tournament.
The 1987 World Cup also witnessed a rare case of enormous generosity. In the match against India, Australian batsman Dean Jones hit a boundary which was disputed. While the nearest fielder Ravi Shastri deemed it to be a for, Jones argued that it was a six.
Upon the umpire’s consultation with Indian skipper Kapil Dev, the latter generously took the same for a six. However, as fate would have it, that six made all the difference as India lost the match by 1 run. While a four would have lent India a win.
The father- son duo of Don Pringle and Derek Pringle holds the distinction of playing for two different countries in different World Cups.
Father Don played two matches for East Africa in the 1975 tournament while Derek played a total of eleven matches for runners up England in the 1987 and 1992 World Cups.
Cricketer Sunil Valson of India is the only player to win a World Cup without even playing an international match! Valson was the part of the 14 member squad of the 1983 world cup winning Indian team. Valson in fact never made his international debut!
In the over four decade long history of the tournament, India has never lost a single match against Pakistan. Pakistan, in turn, has never lost a match to Sri Lanka!
India is also the first team to score and defend 400+ runs in World Cup history against Bermuda (413/5 in 50 overs) in the 2007 World Cup.
Pakistani cricketer Shahid Afridi holds the unique record of claiming four or more wickets in a single match of four world cups!
The 1999 World Cup match between South Africa and India saw Hansie Cronje and Allan Donald using ear phones to communicate with their coach. On deciphering the foul play, Sourav Ganguly appealed to the umpires who withdrew the earphones.
The Sri Lankan team also is the only one in history to have won two of their league matches even without a single ball being played. Security concerns in Sri Lanka, also the host nation of the 1996 tournament led to Australian and West Indies players refusing to travel to the country. Eventually, the island nation emerged to be the default winner in each of these games!
Sri Lanka was also the first ever team to win a final while batting second on course of its claim to the 1996 title.