A lot has changed in the world of cricket since its inception way back in the 18th century. The rules have drastically changed, test cricket is in danger of becoming extinct due to the new and entertaining T20 format, there are T20 Leagues all around the world, and the list can go on and on. But one thing that has not changed is the craze and excitement for the ICC Cricket World Cup since its first edition in 1975. Every four years the one month of the World Cup is nothing less a Christmas for cricket fans.
The upcoming World Cup in England and Wales is the 12th edition of the tournament with five different winners so far. Australia has dominated the competition with five titles, India and West Indies have won two each while Pakistan and Sri Lanka have won one each.
Let’s take a look at the complete list of ICC World Cup winners so far:
1West Indies (1975):
The 1970s was the time of West Indies dominance in Cricket. With their legendary batting line-up and frightening pace bowling attack, they were one of the favourites for the Prudential Cup (as it was called back then) along with hosts England and Australia. Matches were 60-overs-a-side affair back then in classic white jerseys and red-leather ball.
Eight teams were divided into two groups of four as East Africa played their first and only World Cup. The tournament started by creating a bizarre memory for Indian fans, thanks to Sunil Gavaskar’s inning of 36 in 174 while chasing England’s total of 334. England faced Australia in the semi-final and was helpless against Gary Gilmour’s bowling, who finished with 6-14. West Indies beat the Black Caps in the second semi-final to set the date for the first ever World Cup final against the Aussies at the famous Lord’s.
Caribbean skipper Clive Lloyd scored a match-winning century in the final as West Indies defeated Australia by 17 runs and engraved their names in the history books as the first ever World Champions.
2West Indies (1979):
Apart from the participation of Canada instead of East Africa, nothing really changed in the 1979 World Cup. Hosts remained the same, the format remained the same and so did the eventual champions!
Last edition’s finalists, Australia were knocked out in the group stage by Pakistan, who qualified for the semi-finals. The other three semi-finalists remained the same from 1975 – West Indies, England and New Zealand. The reigning Champions ended Pakistan’s fairy-tale run in the semi-finals and England defeated New Zealand.
The final of the tournament was as one-sided as it could get. Legendary Vivian Richards’ knock of 138 helped West Indies to a total of 286. Another legendary Caribbean, Joel Garner bagged a fifer as Indies won their second consecutive title.
Four years after their second title, West Indies were still the most dominant side as they looked all set to clinch the hat-trick of the World Cup. No one expected England and Australia to stop the Caribbean Carnival and no one sure as hell expected India to do so.
Indians, led by Kapil Dev, created an upset by beating West Indies in the very first group game. It was India’s second win in three World Cups after beating East Africa in 1975. Later in the group stages, India also defeated Australia once and Zimbabwe twice, including Kapil Dev’s memorable knock of 175 in one of the games. Team India qualified for the semi-finals for the very first time, along with West Indies from Group B and England and Pakistan qualified from Group A.
In yet another shocking result, Indians defeated hosts England in the semi-final while West Indies’ win against Pakistan was more of a formality. In an unlikely final, the two-time champions faced India at the Lord’s.
Indians were bundled for 183 by a deadly Caribbean bowling attack. And the target never looked like a tall task for the likes of Clive Lloyd and Viv Richards. But Team India pulled off a miracle by defeating West Indies by 43 runs, courtesy three wickets each by Madan Lal and Mohinder Amarnath – A historic moment for the nation!
In its fourth edition, the World Cup finally came to the land where it was loved the most – Indian Subcontinent. India and Pakistan co-hosted the tournament, which was the first time it was held outside England. And the number of overs was reduced to 50-a-side.
West Indies’ supremacy was starting to fade away as they failed to reach the semi-final for the very first time. Australia and England made it to the semi-finals along with both the co-hosts.
Both India and Pakistan were knocked out to set up a final between two Ashes rivals. In a closely fought contest, Australia defeated England by just 7 runs to win their first ever World Cup – The first of many.
The 5th edition of the World Cup took us down under, to be hosted by Australia and New Zealand. With South Africa’s addition, the number of participants went up to nine for the very first time in the tournament’s history. This World Cup was a new beginning for the game of Cricket, with coloured clothing, a white leather ball, black sight screens and day-night matches.
All nine teams faced each other in the round-robin format as New Zealand, England, South Africa and Pakistan made it to the semi-finals. Despite being knocked out in the group stage, India did manage to win their first ever World Cup clash against arch-rivals Pakistan – Another first of many. And a certain Sachin Tendulkar also made his World Cup debut with 283 runs in 7 matches.
Pakistan defeated New Zealand in the first semi-final but it was the other game which is remembered by all. South Africa needed 22 runs off 13 balls, chasing England’s 252. But with two overs lost due to rain, the target turned into impossible 22 off 1 ball.
In the final at the MCG, Imran Khan’s all-around performance in his last ever ODI helped Pakistan to their first and only World Cup triumph. England, on the other hand, lost their third final and have never come this far in the tournament since then.
6Sri Lanka (1996):
Cricket was starting to grow outside of the nine Test-playing nations as three more teams participated in the 1996 World Cup. Kenya, Netherlands and UAE were all part of the 6th edition, held in India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.
This World Cup was controversial for a lot of reasons. Australia and West Indies refused to play in Sri Lanka due to safety reasons and ICC awarded both the games to co-hosts. The knockout stage started with quart-finals for the very first time and Sri Lanka, India, West Indies and Australia sealed the semi-final berth.
In yet another controversial and infamous incident, the semi-final between Sri Lanka and India was awarded to the Lankans after unrest amongst Indian fans. Chasing 252, Team India went from 98-1 and 120-8 and fans simply could not take it.
Sri Lanka faced Australia in the final where Aravinda de Silva’s all-around performance with 3 wickets and a century sealed the first and only World Cup for the Asian nation.
Welcome to the 1999 World Cup – The start of the Australian dominance! Twelve teams were divided into two groups of six with three each progressing to ‘Super Six’.
England and title-holders Sri Lanka were knocked out in the group stage as Zimbabwe entered the Super Six. Pakistan, Australia, South Africa and New Zealand progressed to the semi-finals. India finished at the bottom of the Super Six but won their game against Pakistan which was played during the Kargil War.
Saeed Anwar’s century against New Zealand helped Pakistan win the first SF by 9 wickets. But it was the game between Australia and South Africa where the term Chockers was born. South Africa could only tie the game despite needing just 1 run off 4 balls. Aussies made it to the final based on higher superior NRR in the Super Six.
The final was a one-sided affair, thanks to Shane Warne’s 4-33 as he bundled Pakistan to 132. Australia chased the target in 20 overs to claim their second title.
Hosted by South Africa, Zimbabwe and Kenya, this was the first time 14 teams participated in the World Cup.
India continued their winning streak against Pakistan, this time with a memorable knock of 93 by Sachin Tendulkar. Ganguly’s men qualified for the semi-finals along with Australia, Kenya and Sri Lanka as the top four teams from Super Six. Australia defeated Sri Lanka in with ease while India stopped Kenya’s miraculous run in the tournament.
The stage was set for final with Sachin Tendulkar in the form of his life. But Captain Ricky Pointing’s 140 helped Australia to a total of 359! Indians were no match for that, especially after Glenn McGrath bowled the Little Master in the very first over. Australia won by 125 runs and won their second consecutive title. The image of dejected Sachin Tendulkar collecting the Golden Bat for scoring 673 runs in the tournament is still fresh in our memory.
There was no stopping Ricky Pointing’s Australia team. With Matthew Hayden and Adam Gilchrist as openers, Glenn McGrath and Shaun Tait leading the pace-attack and Andrew Symonds, who could do it all – The Aussies were invincible!
India and Pakistan were shocking knocked out of the group stage by Bangladesh and Ireland, respectively. In one of the most upsetting news, Pakistan’s coach Bob Woolmer was suspiciously found dead the very next day.
New Zealand and South Africa’s semi-final jinx continued with their defeats to Sri Lanka and Australia, respectively. With a knock of 149 off just 104 balls in the final, Adam Gilchrist helped Australia complete the hat-trick of World Cup titles.
The World Cup returned to the Indian subcontinent for the first time since 1996. Meanwhile, Sachin Tendulkar continued to break records after records but could not complete his dream of winning the World Cup. This was his last shot!
14 teams were divided into two groups of seven with knockouts starting from quarter-final stage for 4 top teams from each group. India faced a tough opponent in Australia in the quarter-final. However, thanks to Yuvraj Singh’s heroics, India stopped Aussie’s winning streak in the World Cups which started way back in 1999.
MS Dhoni’s men then faced Pakistan in one of the most tensed semi-finals. India defeated Pakistan for the 5th time in World Cups for a place in the final. Sri Lanka defeated New Zealand in the other SF to set up a monumental final at the Wankhede.
And boy, you sure as hell don’t need to be reminded what happened in Mumbai on 2nd April 2011! Indians won their 2nd World Cup after a gap of 28 years as Sachin Tendulkar finally fulfilled his dream. And MS Dhoni’s Captain’s knock was carved in the memories of Indian fans for eternity.
Aussies came back much stronger in the 11th edition of the World Cup at their home turf. Co-hosts New Zealand, led by Brandon McCullum was also in steaming hot form throughout the tournament.
Apart from England’s exit from the group stage, there were no major upsets in the first half of the tournament. This edition will be remembered for two double centuries, Chris Gayle against Zimbabwe and Martin Guptill against West Indies.
New Zealand defeated South Africa to enter the final of the tournament for the very first time. Their first semi-final victory in seven attempts. The Proteas, on the other hand, were once again the victims of D/L rule. Australia defeated India in the second semi-final to set up a Trans-Tasman final.
The final turned out to be a one-sided affair as Australian pace-attack bowled out the Black Caps for 183. The Aussies then chased the target with ease to win their 5th World Cup title!