Cricket’s global showpiece event has witnessed glorious moments since its inception in 1975. But everything has a darker side and the CWC is no exception, with its on-field and off-field dramas and controversies. Here is a sampler:
Lucky Lankans- 1996
Led by Arjuna Ranatunga Sri Lanka clinched its first World Cup in 1996 by defeating Australia in the finale. If Lankan coach David Whatmore’s strategy was one of the reasons behind the success, another has to be the games Australia and the West Indies forfeited. The Wills World Cup 1996 was hosted by India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. The same year saw the bombing of the Central Bank by the Tamil Tigers. Australia and the West Indies refused to send their teams to Sri Lanka for the group stage games citing security concerns. As a result, Sri Lanka qualified for the quarterfinals without playing a single match.
Blow for Aussies- 2003
Shane Warne, one of the greatest spinners of all time, was sent home just two days after the tournament had commenced. Warne, before the tournament, had announced that it would be his ODI swansong. The news of his suspension was announced on the eve of Australia’s opening match against Pakistan, after Warne failed a routine drug test and was found positive for a diuretic known as Moduretic, a prescription drug generally used for the treatment of hypertension. Later it was learned that Warne’s mother had prescribed the drug for the improvement of his presence in front of the camera. Warne’s vanity, thus, proved a huge blow for Australia.
Protest for Democracy- 2003
South Africa, Zimbabwe, and Kenya co-hosted the 2003 World Cup edition. Zimbabwe was already going through political tensions. As a protest against the situation under the President Robert Mugabe, the captain of Zimbabwe team Andy Flower and senior payer Henry Olonga wore black armbands in their opening match in Harare. They described the act as ‘mourning the death of democracy’. Citing security issues, England refused to travel to Zimbabwe, which helped the host country enter the Super Six stage. The protesting players had to flee Zimbabwe in the aftermath, and cricket in that country changed for the worse.
Death Bed- 2007
Bob Woolmer is no stranger to World Cup controversies. In 1999, as coach of South Africa, he along with the skipper Hansie Cronje was involved in the famous ear-piece controversy. Jump to the 2007 World Cup, when Bob Woolmer was coach of the Pakistan cricket team. The morning after Pakistan was knocked out of the tournament after losing to minnows Ireland, Woolmer was found dead in his hotel room in Jamaica. This was the first time that the Windies were hosting the mega tournament. Local police launched a murder investigation, followed a post mortem report that said Woolmer had died of asphyxia via manual strangulation. Many speculated that match-fixing was the motive, but the investigation, which ended in June, put the death down to ‘natural causes’.
‘Squash’ Ball to Win- 2007
A rain-affected World Cup final in 2007 saw Australia putting up a mammoth target of 281/4 from 38 overs. Credit goes to opening batsman Adam Gilchrist who produced one of his best limited over innings, smashing 149 off 105 balls. Sri Lanka failed to reach the revised target (mutually decided due to low light) of 269 runs from 36 overs. The decision taken by the officials attracted controversy, made worse when it was revealed after the match that Gilchrist, as suggested by his coach, had put a squash ball inside the glove of his left hand,i.e his bottom hand. The idea was to not use his last two fingers of the bottom hand while batting. This helped him to have a better grip. The revelation did not go down well with Sri Lankans, but it was deemed legal by the MCC later.
It’s A No Ball- 2015
Bangladesh entered the knock-out stage for the first time in the 2015 World Cup and had to face India. Dhoni’s team was arguably better but the tigers were ready to roar. Rohit Sharma scored a fantastic 137 off 126 balls, that helped India to put up a three hundred plus score. Sharma was given a life when he was caught off a ‘no-ball’. The call was marginal, and the Bangladesh fans were furious. Eventually, they lost the match by 109 runs and fans blamed the life Sharma got for the outcome, leading to massive public outrage in Dhaka.