Ball One – Ten minutes into the programme, it is clear that ODI cricket has progressed further in the previous four years than in the 12 prior to that. The ball is white, the uniforms garishly coloured and tactics are no longer adapted from the longer form of the game, but designed from the ground up for the 50 overs format. New Zealand led the way with Mark Greatbatch hitting the new, hard ball over the top, followed by a middle-order of nurdlers and scramblers and, when the Kiwis got hold of the ball, dibbly-dobblers to strangle the opposition in the middle overs. Even as attacking a cricketer as Chris Cairns could only get a bat at 8 and four overs bowling in the opening match. Other strategies are available, as this tournament was to prove, but the legacy of Martin Crowe’s thinking lives on today.
Ball Two – The emphasis on athleticism and aggression in ground fielding is more evident in this tournament than in the past. Never was the third skill more foregrounded than in Pakistan’s early match against South Africa in which a youthful, but still somewhat lugubrious, Inzamam (scoring at well over a run a ball) takes half a dozen steps down the wicket and is sent back, only to be confronted with the sight of a horizontal, diving green blur smashing all three stumps out of the ground. And backward point, for me, was renamed “the Jonty Rhodes position” – a phrase I still use today – he deserves it.
Ball Three – A clash of philosophies in the semi-final as Imran’s cornered tigers face Martin Crowe’s grey men (grey uniforms, I mean – honest). Knowing that he had the old head of Javed Miandad at the other end, the young Inzamam gave the bowlers nowhere to bowl, as his brilliant eye saw him make 60 off just 37 balls, before the inevitable run out. Javed, of course, was still there at the end, in company with the almost equally wily Moin Khan – two alleycats (rather than tigers) saw Pakistan into the final.
Ball Four – In the other semi-final, no doubt being followed by an interested pair of academics called Duckworth and Lewis, rain swirled around Sydney as South Africa sought to chase down England’s handy 252. I recall watching the closing stages of their chase in a pub in Soho and being confident throughout that South Africa were never going to get up. Once the long-threatened downpour arrived, the rules at the time (known to both teams of course) kicked in and the SA target shifted from 22 off 13 to 21 off, er… 1. The weather spoiled what promised to be a close finish, but the team ahead (on any reckoning) when the rain came, progressed and South Africa, not for the last time, had only themselves to blame.
Ball Five – Even Imran concedes that England had a better team as a whole, but you look at some of the names in that XI and wonder. Have the likes of Chris Lewis, Derek Pringle, Richard Illingworth and Dermott Reeve the stuff of World Champions? But they nearly were!
Ball Six – Imran was right in his demand that his bowlers took wickets – England had only one partnership above 39 runs in the final. In their long careers in county cricket, Wasim Akram and Mushtaq Ahmed showed that Englishmen could not deal with their lateral movement – both ways – conjured at will regardless of pitch or conditions.In retrospect, the better team won.
If you have any thoughts on or memories of the 1992 World Cup, please comment below.
The Tooting Trumpet, whom you can often find at Testmatchsofa.com and on Twitter at @garynaylor999 and @Fakeadil.