By Mushtaq A Subhani
The ICC World Cup was introduced in 1975 and since then, this biggest one-day cricket tournament has been held every fourth year. A brief history of these World Cups, played so far on nine occasions in various countries, is given below:
1st World Cup-1975
The first ever edition of the World Cup was staged in England where all the 15 matches of the tournament were played at Test match venues.
Eight countries participated in the tournament. Six of them were the then Test-playing nations and were joined by East Africa and Sri Lanka who were associate members of the ICC.
All teams were divided into two groups of four, each playing the other one. England, New Zealand, India and East Africa were in Group-A while the West Indies, Australia, Pakistan and Sri Lanka were in Group-B.
Almost 200,000 people witnessed 15 matches, most of which ended in easy victories but the final, played between Australia and the West Indies, provided a befitting finale to the tournament.
The West Indies, after defeating New Zealand by five wickets and Australia after beating England by four wickets in the semi-finals, faced each other in the final. Batting first, the West Indies piled up 291-8 with the help of their captain Clive Lloyd’s devastating hundred and Rohan Kanhai’s brilliant fifty. In reply, Australia put up a tremendous effort through Ian Chappell’s dashing 62 but they fell just 18 runs short of their target before a capacity crowd at Lord’s on June 21, 1975.
2nd World Cup-1979
The West Indies repeated their success in the second World Cup, defeating England by 92 runs in the final at Lord’s on June 23, 1979. First, they made 286-9 and then bowled England out for 194 runs in 51 overs.
This tournament was also held in England on the same pattern as it was in the first, with eight teams playing 15 matches. However, one match was abandoned without a ball being bowled due to rain.
Sri Lanka and Canada were added to the six Test-playing nations on the basis of their performance in the ICC Trophy, which was introduced to determine the non-Test playing participants of the World Cup.
The West Indies, New Zealand, India and Sri Lanka were placed in Group-A while England, Australia, Pakistan and Canada made up the Group-B.
The Windies again qualified for the semi-finals along with England, New Zealand and Pakistan. Australia, this time, could not reach the semis as their cricket board picked up a depleted side due to conflict with Kerry Packer, who organised a big circus for cricketers of the world.
Pakistan despite displaying good performance in the semi-final were again beaten by defending champions – West Indies – by 43 runs while in the other semi-final which was also a closely-contested game, England won by just nine runs against New Zealand.
3rd World Cup-1983
India, who were an under-rated side, created the biggest upset by overwhelming the mighty Windies by 43 runs in the third World Cup final.
They began on a sensational note as they in their very first match in the tournament humbled the West Indies, who remained unbeaten throughout the first two World Cup competitions and won the championship on both occasions.
For the first time, each of the all eight teams won at least one match in the tournament which involved 27 matches instead of 15 played in the earlier editions.
This tournament was played on double-league basis enabling the teams within a group to tackle each other twice.
Group-A comprised England, New Zealand, Pakistan and Sri Lanka while the West Indies, Australia, India and Zimbabwe constituted Group-B.
The West Indies, England, India and Pakistan qualified to play semi-finals which proved one-sided affairs as India unbelievably outplayed England while the West Indies beat Pakistan.
However, supremacy of the West Indies’ in one-day cricket, spanning over eight years, finally ended as India dethroned them in the final.
4th World Cup-1987
The World Cup was played for the first time outside England where all three previous World Cups were staged. This time, it was held in the sub-continent of India and Pakistan as the two countries jointly organized it in October-November 1987.
It was the longest tournament, taking six weeks, and involving 27 matches at 21 venues all over the subcontinent. All matches were of 50 overs each side.
The format was the same as of the World Cup 1983 as four teams in the two groups faced each other twice on double-league basis before the semi-finals. In all, 27 matches were played – 17 in India and 10 in Pakistan. They included two semi-finals ( one each at Lahore and Bombay) and the final in Calcutta.
India and Australia had no difficulty in reaching the semi-finals from Group ‘A’ while Group ‘B’ saw Pakistan and England qualifying for the semis. But India, the defending champions and Pakistan, both the co-hosts could not reach the final as it was earlier expected.
However, Australia, led by Allan Border, overcame their old rivals, England, in the final before a huge crowd of over 80,000 people at the Eden Gardens and for the first time, they emerged World Cup champions.
5th World Cup-1992
After three semi-final defeats in previous World Cup tournaments and a disastrous start in the fifth World Cup, Pakistan for the first time in the history won the prestigious mega event, defeating England in the final at the Melbourne Cricket Ground. It was a glorious moment for Pakistan emerging champions in front of over 87,000 people.
This was Pakistan’s first appearance in the World Cup final and they won in their first attempt whereas England played in the final for the third time but they never win in the coveted Cup.
This time, the World Cup was jointly organized by Australia and New Zealand. It was the largest ever, involving 39 matches – 25 in Australia and 14 in New Zealand, 10 of the latter being day/night games. This was the first World Cup to involve floodlit cricket with coloured clothing, white ball and dark sightscreen. Matches were again of 50 overs per innings.
Besides the eight countries who participated in the earlier tournaments, there were South Africans who for the first time took part in the World Cup. They marked their Cup debut by reaching the semi-final with an outstanding performance by their young and united squad. But they failed to win the semis against England as the crucial rules for rain-affected matches made it impossible for them.
In the other semi-final, Pakistan toppled New Zealand and ended their Cup record of seven consecutive victories.
Instead of being divided into two groups, each of the nine teams in the tournament played the others once before the top four in the qualifying table played off in the semi-finals. The whole event continued for 33 days.
6th World Cup-1996
Sri Lankans, the then underdogs, won the sixth World Cup and became the world champions. They came of age at Lahore on March 17, 1996, exactly afrter making their international debut in the inaugural World Cup in 1975.
The World Cup’96 was organised jointly by India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. In all, 37 matches were scheduled to be played in three countries but two games could not be held as Australia and the West Indies refused to go to Sri Lanka due to security fears.
However, 17 matches were staged in India, 16 in Pakistan and two in Sri Lanka. Some of the matches were held under floodlights.
Under the new format of the World Cup, 12 teams were divided into two groups. For the first time in World Cup history, three ICC associate member nations – Keneya, The Netherlands and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) – participated in the competition.
For the first time, a quarter-final round was introduced in which Pakistan, the defending champions, and South Africa, who did not lose any league match, went out. Pakistan lost to their traditional rivals India at Bangalore while South Africa lost to the West Indies. Other two teams ousted were England and New Zealand.
Sri Lanka won their semi-final against India at Calcutta, by default after crowd trouble had prompted match referee to award the match to Sri Lanka. Australia gained a thrilling five-run victory over the West Indies.
The main feature of the sixth World Cup was the last appearance made by veteran cricket star Javed Miandad who played in all the six World Cup competitions – a record which has not been equaled for the last 15 years.
7th World Cup -1999
The seventh edition of the World Cup was staged in England who had earlier organised the first three tournaments of this event. This time, 42 matches were played during a long period of seven weeks.
Again, a record number of 12 teams participated in the tournament. Netherlands and the UAE were replaced by Bangladesh and Scotland on the basis of the performance in the qualifying ICC Trophy and, thus, both played for the first time in a World Cup event.
The 12 teams were divided into two groups of six teams each. Group ‘A’ consisted of England, Sri Lanka, India, South Africa, Zimbabwe and Kenya while Group ‘B’ comprised Pakistan, Australia, New Zealand, West Indies, Bangladesh and Scotland.
8th World Cup – 2003
The eighth World Cup was hosted by South Africa, for the first time in the history of the tournament. Two other African nations, Zimbabwe and Kenya also joined South Africa as co-hosts.
This World Cup was the largest so far in duration, number of participating teams and matches. In all, 14 teams took part in the tournament which continued for 44 days and overall 54 matches were played. Six of them were scheduled to be played in Zimbabwe and two in Kenya.
Ten of the matches were played under flood-lights – five each in Cape Town and Durban.
All teams were divided into two groups where all matches were played on round-robin league basis. Three top teams from each group – Australia, India and Zimbabwe from group ‘A’ and New Zealand, Sri Lanka and Kenya from group ‘B’, – reached the Super Six stage from where four teams qualified for the semi-finals on the basis of points or net run-rate.
Australia defeated Sri Lanka and India ousted Kenya in the semi-finals but the final proved to be one-sided as Australia thrashed India by 125 runs to win their second successive title and the third over all.
9th World Cup – 2007
The West Indies for the first time hosted the World Cup for which various Caribbean countries joined together. This time, a record number of 16 teams participated in the mega event.
The ninth World Cup was the largest tournament so far which lasted 48 days during which 51 matches were played.
All teams were divided into four groups for the first time. Each team played against other three teams in its group. Then, two top teams from each group moved into the Super Eight stage, introduced for the first time in the World Cup history.
The teams who reached the Super Eight stage were Australia, New Zealand, England, South Africa, West Indies, India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.
In the first semi-final, Sri Lanka defeating New Zealand and Australia beating South Africa qualified for the final. However, Australia became the World Cup champions for the third time in a row and the fourth time overall.
Pakistan went through an embarrassing defeat at the hands of underdogs Ireland. Their coach Bob Woolmer could not survive this shock and was found dead in his hotel room.early in the morning other day. His sudden death marred the ninth World Cup.
10th World Cup – 2011
Now, the World Cup has entered into its 36th year. The Cup has so far been played on nine occasions in various countries.
The tenth World Cup was scheduled to be organized jointly by India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh but Pakistan has been deprived of staging the matches of this mega event due to security reasons.
However, the tenth World Cup will be played from February 19 to April 2 and 49 matches will be held during the period of 43 days. This time, 14 teams are taking part in the tournament and they have been divided into two groups of seven each.
Group ‘A’: Australia, New Zealand, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Zimbabwe, Canada and Kenya.
Group ‘B’: England, South Africa, West Indies, India, Bangladesh, Netherlands and Ireland.
Every team will play against other six teams in its group from which four teams will qualify for the next stage where quarter-finals will be played instead of Super Six or Super Eight.
The matches will be played at eleven venues – eight in India, three in Sri Lanka and two in Bangladesh. The first semi-final will be held in Colombo, Sri Lanka while the second will be staged in Mohali, India and the final will be played in Mumbai, India on April 2.