Cricket World Cup Shockers - Five Moments of Madness
1 - “You've Just Dropped the World Cup, Mate” - Headingley, 1999
While Steve Waugh did not utter these exact words to Herschelle Gibbs at Headingley, the incident has gone down in folklore as an example of South Africa's propensity to choke on the big occasion, and is one of the most memorable moments from any Cricket World Cup.
Australia had to win the last match of the Super Sixes in the 1999 World Cup to join South Africa in the semi-finals. Chasing 272 to win, the Baggy Greens were on track with captain Waugh and Ricky Ponting both passing 50 in a sizeable fourth-wicket stand. But a wicket would put the Proteas back in the ascendancy.
Waugh faced Shaun Pollock for the last ball of the 31st over with Australia 152-3. He clipped it in the air straight to Gibbs at mid-wicket for what should have been the simplest of catches. But the man whose century with the bat could have been the matchwinner spilled it as he prepared to hurl the ball in celebration.
Words were exchanged with the Australia skipper revealing some years later in his autobiography that he had actually told Gibbs, “Do you realise you've just cost your team the match?” And Waugh was true to his word, scoring 120 off 110 balls including the winning single off Pollock with two balls to spare to set up a semi-final with... South Africa.
2 - Donald's Brain Fade Sends Australia Through – Edgbaston, 1999
It should have been the defining moment for Lance Klusener, one of the stars of the 1999 World Cup. His brutal hitting and pacey bowling had been instrumental to South Africa's progress in the competition and 'Zulu' would be named player of the tournament.
Chasing 214 for victory, South Africa were left needing 18 to win off the last two overs with three wickets remaining. Mark Boucher failed to score off a Glenn McGrath full toss with the first ball of the penultimate over, and then missed a straight one which took out middle stump. In came Steve Elworthy and he took a single to get the danger man on strike.
Klusener drove to Paul Reiffel in the deep and they went for a risky two. McGrath deflected the ball onto the stumps and Elworthy was out. The equation was now 15 off eight balls with one wicket left.
That became nine off seven as Klusener hammered a full toss towards Reiffel who could only tip the ball, goalkeeper style, over the rope for six. And a single left South Africa needing eight off the final over.
Damien Fleming was entrusted with the last six balls, and it looked like this would be South Africa's day as Klusener smashed the first two through the off side for fours to level the scores.
Donald showed his nerves on the next ball as Klusener hit the ball straight to Darren Lehmann at mid-on. With 'White Flash' backing up too far, a direct hit would have run him out but Lehmann's throw just missed. Three balls to go and the tension at the end of a breathtaking match was palpable.
Klusener toe-ended the next ball past the bowler and called for a single. But Donald was ball-watching and remained rooted to the spot with his partner already three-quarters of the way down the pitch. As he finally set off, without his bat, the ball was already at the wicketkeeper's end with Adam Gilchrist gleefully whipping off the bails. The match was a tie, but Australia's win at Headingley saw them through to the final.
Australia went on to trounce Pakistan at Lord's to secure their second World Cup triumph. South Africa would co-host the 2003 tournament where more calamity would befall them.
3 - Pollock Gets His Sums Wrong – Durban, 2003
The weather had proved costly to South Africa's hopes in the past. In their first World Cup in 1992, following their return to international sport after Apartheid, they needed 22 off 13 balls to beat England in Sydney and reach the final. But the old rain rule left them requiring an impossible 22 off just one ball.
That fiasco led to the introduction of the Duckworth-Lewis method, a mathematical formula which uses the number of overs and wickets remaining to calculate a target in rain-shortened matches.
In 2003, the Proteas needed to beat Sri Lanka at Kingsmead to reach the Super Sixes. Opener Marvan Atapattu's 124 led Sri Lanka to 268-9 off their 50 overs. And the home team looked in trouble after Herschelle Gibbs fell for 73 to Muttiah Muralitharan.
Enter Mark Boucher and captain Shaun Pollock who put on 63 for the sixth wicket with the rain approaching. Pollock was run out but Boucher continued to carry the fight and give the Durban crowd hope. After Boucher and Lance Klusener had taken just one run off the 44th over, South Africa needed 13 runs off the next to draw level on Duckworth-Lewis and 14 to go ahead.
As the rain started to lash down, Boucher took a single off Murali before two dot balls. All looked lost before the spinner bowled five wides with a Klusener single leaving six to tie on Duckworth-Lewis. Then came a big six from Boucher to take them to 229-6 and level with one ball of the over remaining.
Unfortunately, the message came down from the dressing room that 229 was enough. Boucher tapped the next ball to midwicket and stayed in his crease. The players went off and Pollock soon realised there had been an almighty miscalculation. With the rain refusing to abate, the match was tied and South Africa were out as Sri Lanka progressed with New Zealand and Kenya.
4 - Gatting's Reverse-Sweep Nightmare – Kolkata, 1987
England have never come closer to winning the World Cup than in 1987 when they were thwarted by the old enemy Australia - although they are 2/1 favourites this year with the top cricket betting sites. But, oh, what might have been.
India and Pakistan co-hosted the tournament – unthinkable these days – with both falling in the semi-finals. Craig McDermott's 5-44 saw Australia get the better of Pakistan in Lahore, while a Graham Gooch century and four wickets for Eddie Hemmings accounted for India in Mumbai.
With England favourites to clinch a first World Cup, Australia made 253-5 from their 50 overs at Eden Gardens. David Boon top-scored with a patient 75 but almost as important was a swashbuckling unbeaten 45 off 31 balls at the end from Mike Veletta.
England's reply could not have started much more badly as Tim Robinson was trapped in front first ball by McDermott. Gooch and Bill Athey steadied the ship before the former fell for 35. That brought captain Mike Gatting to the crease with the score on 66-2.
Gatting looked in sublime nick as he cruised to 41 off 44 balls. With Athey playing somewhat more circumspectly, they put on 69 for the third wicket. The Australian frontline bowlers were struggling, and skipper Allan Border brought himself into the attack to deliver his left-arm spinners.
His first ball was going harmlessly down the leg side, probably for a wide, but Gatting was already part-way through a pre-meditated reverse-sweep. The stroke was highly unusual back in 1987, and the results were catastrophic. The ball ballooned up off his bat and shoulder, and Greg Dyer completed the catch behind the stumps.
The manner of the dismissal knocked the stuffing out of England and, with Athey taking 103 balls to make his 58, they struggled to keep up with the required rate. Allan Lamb made 45 in good time and Phil DeFreitas 17 off 10 balls, but it was not enough as Australia won by seven runs.
As an England fan, I can honestly say that no incident in cricket has hurt more than this one. England lost in the final to Pakistan five years later, and the World Cup continues to elude them.
5 - Master Blaster Malfunction – Lord's, 1983
Viv Richards is an all-time great but if he could replay one moment from his career again, it would probably be his dismissal in the 1983 World Cup Final against India.
With the West Indies seeking a hat-trick of titles, Andy Roberts took 3-32 as they bowled out India for 183 at the home of cricket. With matches then 55 overs a side, they needed just 3.34 runs per over to retain their crown.
Richards came to the middle with the score on five after Gordon Greenidge had fallen for one. He and Desmond Haynes saw the men from the Caribbean to 50 with Richards playing some exquisite shots to race to 31 not out. Haynes was caught off Madan Lal but at 50-2, and with captain Clive Lloyd coming in, the target was still well within reach.
Haynes was soon back on as a runner as Lloyd pulled a groin muscle while taking a single. But Madan struck again moments later with the prize wicket of the Master Blaster from Antigua.
It was a very ordinary delivery - short of a length and down the leg side - which Richards would have pulled to the boundary nine times out of 10. The TV camera operator, not unwisely, panned to the crowd gathered behind the rope. But Richards had miscued it and India captain Kapil Dev took a stunning catch to dismiss him for 33.
That prompted a collapse with only Jeff Dujon and Malcolm Marshall offering sustained resistance. The West Indies were all out for 140 as India won by 43 runs to clinch their first World Cup. Kapil admitted in 2010, “When Viv is around, we don't normally talk about that catch.”
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