The Greatest Cricket World Cup Moments

By Dean Wilson - Daily Mirror Cricket Correspondent, April 25, 2019

Dean Wilson 


When it comes to one day cricket the World Cup is the pinnacle. It only comes around once every four years and unless you're Australian it tends to end in disappointment. But within the most watched cricket tournament in the game and with the pressure and intensity at its highest, the very best players are able to produce memorable moments of magic that echo through the ages.


Sometimes though the most memorable moment at a tournament isn't a piece of exceptional skill but rather some outrageous misfortune, and there are even times when it is the actions off the field that stick in the mind.


With so many great and not so great moments to choose from, Daily Mirror Cricket Correspondent Dean Wilson picks his way through 40 years of World Cup action to come up with his top ten slices of history that could be joined by something special in 2019.


South Africa need 22 from 1 ball in 1992 semi-final


While cricket has evolved and changed over the years in a bid to keep up with the times, there has always been a moment in which it shoots itself spectacularly in the foot. With South Africa competing in a World Cup for the first time following their readmission they had made it to the semi-final and had given themselves a robust chance of success only to be denied by England...the rain...and the rules. Needing 22 from 13 balls; a break in play makes it 22 needed from 7 balls, which was tough enough. But it was again readjusted to needing 22 from 1 ball, an impossibility. It caused a huge stink, and it is why the Duckworth-Lewis-Stern method is now a godsend.



Adam Gilchrist's squash ball hundred in 2007 final


It was the end of an era. Glenn McGrath was playing in his last ever match for Australia as they went in search of an incredible third successive World Cup title, and they got it thanks to a squash ball! Just when you think Adam Gilchrist couldn't be any better than he is, he walks out to bat in a World Cup final against Sri Lanka and strikes a powerful and dominant 149 from 103 balls to set up a brilliant 53 run win and reveals he did it with a squash ball inside his left glove. Incredible. There were farcical scenes at the end as the game finished in the dark, but nothing could beat Gilchrist's boast.



Kapil Dev catches Viv Richards in 1983 final


The West Indies were the most powerful, most athletic and most dominant team in the late 1970s and 80s. So it was no surprise they were on course for a third successive World Cup win. With just 184 needed to win from 60 overs it should have been a formality, and while Viv Richards was cruising to 33 that is what it was. Yet from nowhere Madan Lal managed to tempt Richards into a pull, but a top edge landed safely in Dev's hands running back and it sparked India's love affair with one day cricket that has only grown stronger.



South Africa get their numbers wrong in 2003


South Africa's relationship with the World Cup is not a good one. Despite having some of the greatest players of the past 30 years in their sides they are yet to win the biggest prize of the lot. Sometime it is because they have been outplayed, but on more than one occasion it is because they have fallen at the last themselves and none more so than on home soil in 2003 when they got their Duckworth-Lewis numbers wrong and left the field with a tie against Sri Lanka rather than a win. Shaun Pollock never recovered as captain, and the chokers tag was theirs once more.



Viv Richards' hat-trick of run outs in 1975 final


In the early days of one day cricket there was little to differentiate between it and Test cricket. The clothes were the same and often the style of play was the same too. But in the first ever World Cup final there was a glimpse of how the game was to change in terms of its athleticism and intensity as Viv Richards effected three run outs to help down the Australians. Richards would shine with the bat in latter tournaments, but in 1975 it was his prowess and prowling in the ring that caught the eye and made sure that Clive Lloyd's century was on the winning side.




Mike Gatting's reverse sweep 1987 final v Australia


England have never won the World Cup despite getting the final on three occasions. And in 1987 they had perhaps their best chance of the lot to win against an unfancied Australian team who had surprised everyone by getting to the final in Kolkata no less. With everything going smoothly in England's run chase and with captain Mike Gatting and Bill Athey in little trouble, Gatting decided this was the perfect time to pull out a reverse sweep to Allan Border's left arm spin. You have to remember this was as exotic a shot as it was possible to play in those days. He didn't get it quite right and top edged a catch for 41. With his departure England spluttered their way towards the finish to end up seven runs short. Ashes hero Gatting, quickly became a zero.


Ireland beating England 2011


Associate nations have sprinkled a fair bit of magic at the World Cup down the years, claiming more and more scalps from the Test playing big boys, which is either terrific or terrible depending on your point of view. There are no associate teams in the 2019 tournament so it is only right we look back at one of their greatest days when Ireland and Kevin O'Brien took England apart in 2011. A target of 328 looked stiff enough at the break, but after slumping to 111-5 the game was as good as done. O'Brien had other ideas and launched the greatest counterattack the World Cup had ever seen. He hit 113 from 63 balls, the fastest ever World Cup hundred coming off 50 balls, and thanks to 33 not out from John Mooney, Irish eyes were smiling, crying and everything in between.



Wasim Akram over to dismiss Lamb and Lewis in 1992 final


Pakistan came within a whisker of going out of the tournament at the group stage, but after being bowled out for 74 by England, the rain arrived to deny Graham Gooch's team the win. Australia would have qualified for the semi-finals instead which would have denied Wasim Akram his match-turning moment when he dismissed both Allan Lamb and Chris Lewis in the space of two incredible balls. The delivery to Lamb in particular was a stunning piece of reverse-swing brilliance. Chasing 250 England slipped from 141-4 to 141-6 and they never recovered. Imran Khan's 'cornered tigers' found their mojo at just the right time and it was Akram who sparked the celebrations.

Indian fans riot v Sri Lanka 1996 semi-final 


The 1996 World Cup was a joyous celebration of Sri Lanka's bold and fearless approach to one day cricket, in particular from their devil-may-care opening pair of Sanath Jayasuriya and Romesh Kaluwitharana. In the white hot cauldron of Kolkata's Eden Gardens it was their performance in the field that made the difference as Jayasuriya the left arm spinner and Kaluwitharana the keeper combined to have Sachin Tendulkar stumped for 65. From there the Indian lineup collapsed in a heap to 120-8 in pursuit of 252. The game was up and the crowd knew it causing their frustrations to bubble over as they rioted and set parts of the ground on fire. The officials had little choice but to award the game to Sri Lanka who had proved their mettle in India's back yard.



Australia v South Africa run out 1999


This is the one. This is the moment above all others that defines World Cup glory and World Cup heartache in a split second. Edgbaston was the venue for the semi-final clash between Australia and South Africa. Both exceptional teams worthy of progression, but well before the Aussies became a World Cup winning machine they could have been knocked out by the Proteas earlier in the tournament had Herschelle Gibbs held on to an easy catch to dismiss Steve Waugh. That was a moment in itself, but it was to be eclipsed by the finale in Birmingham where South Africa needed 16 to win from 8 balls and were nine down. Lance Klusener should have been caught by Paul Reiffel but instead it went for six. Two blistering boundaries at the start of the last over meant the scores were tied and just one run was needed from four balls. So near and yet, by the time Klusener and Allan Donald finished their desperate running mix up, so very far away. Australia somehow got over the line and won the whole thing. They did so again and again and after a break in 2011, again.




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