Cricket World Cup
The first attempt to create a world championship of cricket occurred in 1912 when Australia, England, and South Africa played a triangular tournament in England in the longer form of the game,Test cricket. The event, plagued by poor weather, was considered a limited success and not repeated. The first World Cup of cricket, known as the Prudential Cup, was played in England in 1975, and the championship has been held every four years since. Although the competition is primarily between the strongest Test-playing nations, some of the developing cricket nations, such as Canada, Namibia, and the Netherlands, have also participated.
Format and Venue Changes
The World Cup is the premier competition for an abbreviated form of cricket, known as limited overs or one-day cricket. (An over consists of six balls bowled in sequence by one player.) Whereas Test matches are scheduled for five days, and state, provincial, and county cricket matches occupy three to four days, the limited overs format—sixty six-ball overs per team in the first three World Cups and fifty overs since then— ensure that a match can be completed in one day, in approximately seven hours.The team that scores the highest number of runs in their allocated 300 balls—plus a few extra deliveries for wides (when a batsman cannot reach a ball to play a shot) and no-balls (primarily when the bowler oversteps the bowling crease) that have to be re-bowled—wins the contest.
The first three World Cups were played during daylight, and the traditional red leather ball was used.With the popularity of day-night cricket, some later World Cup matches involved play under lights—with one side batting in the afternoon and the other at night— necessitating the use of white rather than red balls because they were easier to see at night. Conditions frequently vary from day to night in light, heat, and even dew on the ground. Batsmen face an awkward period at twilight before the artificial lights take over.
The competition grew from eight nations and fifteen matches in 1975 to fourteen countries and fifty-four matches in 2003. In the first World Cup, the teams were divided into two groups, with the leading two teams in each pool advancing to the semi-finals. Since 1999, the best six countries advance to the Super Six playoffs. Under this system, performances in the preliminary matches count at the playoff stage.
Limited overs cricket emerged in England in 1962 when three-day county games were faced with dwindling crowds and declining revenue. The new format proved an instant success on television.The first limited overs international occurred almost by accident. After the first three days of a Test between Australia and England in January 1971 were abandoned because of rain, a hastily scheduled limited overs match on what would have been the fifth day of the Test attracted 46,006 spectators.
The first World Cup (for men) in 1975 was preceded by a World Cup for women, which was held at Edgbaston, England, in 1973, though this tournament was not the primary impetus for the men’s World Cup. (The women’s tournament is a smaller event because it has a smaller player base, and the game is popular only in a few countries, notably England, Australia, and New Zealand.) The 1975 World Cup final at Lord’s in London was the first match broadcast live and in its entirety from England to Australia.The World Cup was an ideal format for television, and the BBC received £200,000 for the 1975 broadcast.
World Cup Events
The first three World Cups were played at Lord’s in London and sponsored by the Prudential Insurance Company, but later World Cups have been played in a variety of Commonwealth countries including Australia, India, New Zealand, Pakistan, South Africa, Sri Lanka, and Zimbabwe. The establishment of the World Cup cricket is closely related to the rise and popularity of international cricket television coverage. The first six men’s World Cups held some surprises and changes:
- The 1975 final between the West Indies and Australia was an exciting and fluctuating event with the West Indies winning by 17 runs after a fine 102 by captain Clive Lloyd and some outstanding West Indian fielding that produced 5 run-outs at crucial stages.
- The second World Cup in 1979 was disrupted by bad weather but a brilliant 138 by Viv Richards enabled to West Indians to win again, this time defeating England.
- India was the surprise winner of the third World Cup in 1983 when India dismissed the powerful West Indian side for a modest 140 and won by 43 runs.
- India and Pakistan hosted the fourth World Cup, known as the Reliance World Cup after a local sponsor, in 1987. Australia defeated England in Calcutta, India, by just 7 runs.
- Australia and New Zealand hosted the fifth World Cup the Benson & Hedges Cup, in 1992, Pakistan defeated England in the final by 22 runs at the Melbourne (Australia) Cricket Ground. This was England’s second successive loss—and their third overall —in a World Cup final.
- The sixth World Cup in 1996, the Wills World Cup, was again played on the subcontinent with matches hosted by India, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka easily defeated Australia in the final at Lahore, Pakistan, by 7 wickets. Aravinda da Silva, who took 3 wickets and was 107 not out, was the man of the match.
In 1999, the competition was renamed the ICC Cricket World Cup, and a permanent trophy was created. This event was staged in England. Australia twice bettered South Africa in dramatic circumstances to reach the final. In a crucial qualifying match, Australia benefited when Steve Waugh was dropped at 56 before he proceeded to score a match-winning 120. In the semi-final, Australia secured a tie—which was all that was needed to qualify for the final—in the last over when South Africa appeared set to win. Australia comfortably defeated Pakistan in the final at Lord’s in London by 8 wickets.
Australia won the 2003 World Cup, when it easily beat India in the final by 125 runs at the New Wanderers Stadium in Johannesburg, South Africa. Captain Ricky Ponting, 140 not out, and Damien Martyn, 88 not out, added 234 runs to register a World Cup record total of two wickets for 359 runs. Of the first eight World Cups, Australia won the event three times, the West Indies twice, and India, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka, once each.
Several events have affected World Cup Cricket:
- The 1979 World Cup was adversely affected by the World Series Cricket crisis. Caused by the issue of the television rights for cricket the crisis split the cricket world into two competing camps from 1977 to 1979. Australian media tycoon Kerry Packer signed up most of the world’s leading players to stage World Series Cricket, challenging establishment cricket. A compromise was brokered in 1979 with Packer receiving the exclusive rights that he had sought. The crisis resulted in some under-strength national teams. Viewed in the longer term, however, World Series Cricket popularized day-night matches and added to the status of the World Cup.
- Australia and West Indies forfeited their matches in Sri Lanka in the 1996 World Cup because of a bomb blast in Sri Lanka.
- The competition was skewed in 2003 when England refused to play in Zimbabwe and New Zealand chose not to play in Kenya; both England and New Zealand forfeited their points.
The Cricket World Cup continues to grow in popularity. The fifty-four matches in 2003 drew a record crowd of 825,000 and an estimated global television audience of more than one billion. Such has been the popularity of the World Cup that a “mini World Cup” based on a knockout format—the ICC Champions Trophy—was played in Bangladesh in 1998 to raise money for cricket development. The mini World Cup was played in Sri Lanka in 2002 and England in 2004.The 2007 World Cup will be held for the first time in the West Indies.