Is This Cricket World Cup a Balance of Power? Essay
Is This Cricket World Cup a Balance of Power?
The game of cricket, played at a leisurely pace then at the Test and county level, was on verge of going through a transition with the introduction of limited-over’s games at the county level. Just about then, the first ever One-day International was played between England and Australia at the MCG in 1971. The popularity of this shorter format of cricket was catching at such a brisk pace that the authorities controlling the game had to bring in something different to make the game a lot more entertaining.
This eventually came in the shape of the first World Cup in 1975. Before that, it was in the year 1900 that cricket was played in the Paris Olympics in which Great Britain beat France by 158 runs in a two-inning match.
That was closest to the concept of a mega event that the game of cricket experienced. Therefore, a cricket World Cup was something to look forward to, a competition in which eight teams bunched into two groups participated including the six Test-playing nations including England, Australia, New Zealand, West Indies, India and Pakistan and two from associate members of the ICC –– the East Africans and the Sri Lankans. The West Indies opened its World Cup history with a resounding nine-wicket win over Sri Lanka at Old Trafford, Manchester in June 1975. It was a 60-over-a-side format competition and since that crushing victory against a team widely regarded as the minnows, the West Indies acquired the title of ‘King of one-day cricket’ following its nine-match winning streak till the 1979 Prudential World Cup final against England.
The third edition of the tournament triggered the era of South Asian domination of cricket’s finances with India knocking off the two-time World champions West Indies off their pedestal. A clear favourite for the 1983 competition, the West Indies was jolted when India beat it at Old Trafford by 34 runs with the match going into the reserve day, Yashpal Sharma making 89 runs and Roger Binny and Ravi Shastri sharing the spoils with three wickets apiece. Lloyd’s team steamrollered opponents on way to the final, including India in the return league match at The Oval. England, Pakistan, India and West Indies qualified for the semi-finals. India went past a below-par England in the semis and managed to emerge on the right side of a low-scoring final where Mohinder Amarnath and Madan Lal wobbled the mighty Windies to their doom and rest my friend is history.
The domination of Cricket had moved from West Indies to India who were not playing well at those times scored upset victories over the West Indies and Australia respectively. It was the defining moment in the history Indian cricket: It made cricket a religion in Indian sub-continent and cricketer’s demi-gods. One-day cricket shot-up to overshadow Test cricket. More youngsters took to cricket.
The fourth edition of the World Cup, held in both India and Pakistan, was unique in its own ways with India taking its first step to financial world domination of cricket by co-hosting the event. Again, when India and Pakistan reached the semi-finals, the world awaited a face-off between the age-old rivals but disappointing the home fans, the final saw England playing against arch rivals Australia. Defeating England by 7 runs in the most closely fought World Cup final to date in the Eden Gardens, Allan Border lifted the trophy for Australia and kicked off an era of Australian domination on the field. The West Indies failed to live up to expectations by not even qualifying for the semi-finals. By the fifth edition of the World Cup, apartheid had come to an end in South Africa and hence its inclusion in the International Cricket Council.
This tournament was also the first for colored clothing, white cricket balls, black sightscreens, floodlights and fielding restrictions in the first 15 over’s. The 1992 Cricket World Cup was lifted by Imran Khan, the captain of the Pakistan team, who defeated England in the final match. The sixth edition of the tournament was hosted by India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. The Lankans revolutionised the one-day format with their manic hitting in the first 15 over’s and were deserved winners. Aravinda de Silva produced a stunning all-round performance in the final to defeat Australia in the final at the Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore. India memorably defeated Pakistan to play the semi final match against Sri Lanka.
The Title since then shifted from one hand to another till in 1999 when Australia won the world cup and started its dominance onto all formats of the game like hell, winning ODIs after ODIs, tests after tests, bulldozing all other sides along the way. Teams could seldom come close to defeating them. And they won consecutive World Cups, the last one in a thoroughly convincing manner, almost unopposed. They clearly stood up and maintained a considerable gab between them and the team ranked 2nd in both Test and One day Cricket. When one team is this far ahead of the others it reduces the competitiveness and results become obvious. This is not good for the game and also for the spectators. Anyway I’m not blaming Australia for standing up and it was up to other teams to come up put on a fight against them. I was waiting for that to happen as a cricket lover.
But now that they’ve fizzled out, we have two sides in India and South Africa stamping their authority on world cricket. However, this time it’s very different, as both sides look very much beatable and can be beaten in a test or ODI provided you play quality cricket. And even though the Aussies are not that formidable anymore, they are still a force to reckon with, so world cricket domination seems to me a three way fight right now.
SO what can you say? Is this semi-dominance of world cricket by India and South Africa along with the Australia or is it the CHANGE OF POWER?
Australia loss of domination is mainly due to because of the retirement of some of the great Cricketers like Hayden, Shane Warne etc. They are under rebuilding process now and some good youngsters are coming into picture. So they are still a force to be reckoned with. You know change is something that is always constant and no team in cricket will escape this. Retirement of good players makes way for new players and that’s what happened with Australia.
India under Dhoni has developed into Strong one day and Test side over the past few years. You know Aussies rebuilding/retirement and Indian’s domination start started happening simultaneously at the same time. Ms Dhoni’s team has played really really well and consistently won matches in tests especially.
South Africa under Graeme Smith is one of the most dangerous sides in world cricket and all the 11 players can be the match winners on their day. There is so much flair in the team with likes of Kallis, Smith, and Dale Steyn etc and when they play as unit they are hard to stop. They are known for their comeback attitude and very resilient side. So these three sides are entertaining us with great cricket.
So it’s no more a one team domination as in the past like Aussies or Windies. Any team can beat any other if they play well then their opponents. I just mentioned three sides .There are other pretty good sides like Srilanka, England who are hard to beat when they play really well. So, the Competition of cricket is wide open in my view.
It’s great to see great competitive cricket. I always disliked one team or one man domination. You know, Tennis fans always loved when someone stands up to federer like Nadal many times or Del Potro in US Open final. If he consistently win against his opponents which has happened many times for a certain period, then fans have only to watch great tennis player but not good tennis match. Every true fan prefers good match and the same applies with Cricket too.
These three teams are just few miles ahead of other teams now but if other teams play according to their potential then they can beat these sides any moment. It is not surprise these days when top teams lose because other middle and lower ranked teams have started to play more positively.
So this competitive Cricket has to be a boon for Cricket fans like us. Let us hope this continues and yeah, World Cup is now anybody’s guess.
University/College: University of California
Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter
Date: 3 June 2017
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