Ball One – Because the Australians and West Indians refused to travel to Sri Lanka, the world had not seen much of the Teardrop Island’s side before the quarter-final against England. Michael Atherton’s men had posted 235, which felt about 25 below par, but defendable if England bowled well and took their catches. After 13 overs of mayhem in reply, Sanath Jayasuriya was walking back to the pavilion with the game as good as won. Watching at home, The Trumpet was dumbstruck, probably mumbling something like “It’s just not cricket” and meaning it both literally and metaphorically. It did seem unfair – it was Fords against Ferraris. Soon every country wanted a Jayasuriya to open (as they later wanted a Gilchrist to keep). That Australia’s Jayasuriya was actually Gilchrist goes some of the way to explaining their later dominance. But Jayasuriya was the first to hit the new ball very, very hard indeed – with all due respect to Mark Greatbatch – and opening has never been the same since.
Ball Two – Arjuna Ranatunga was the strategist who got the maximum from his fearless batting line-up. Like all innovators, he had the arrogance to believe that he was right and everyone else was wrong – like all great leaders, he had the power to make his team believe that too. Like Mike Brearley, he was worth his place as a captain alone, though he could bat a bit too.
Ball Three – Gary Kirsten, as stodgy as they come in Test cricket, blasted a record World Cup score against the UAE. His first hundred runs benefited from just seven boundaries (as you would expect) but he then morphed into Lance Klusener and biffed seven more fours and three more sixes from his next 54 balls, to finish 188 not out. Like all the SA cricketers since re-introduction, he must have been very fit indeed to play that knock at Rawalpindi.
Ball Four – I’m not sure that Tendulkar believed that SK Warne could bowl, occasionally treating him with contempt in a group game. It’s the footwork that stands out, making the ball his length and not Warne’s, Mark Waugh was often involved in dismissals, usually through his blindingly brilliant slip catching, but he didn’t take many wickets bowling and even fewer off wides, so he won’t forget snaring the Little Master on 90 as Sachin’s feet, for once, betrayed him .
Ball Five – But Australia and, crucially, the West Indies, believed Warne could bowl and that self-belief coursed through Australian veins as they won a match that they should have lost half a dozen times. We didn’t know it at the time, but that mental strength would see the Aussies to victory in the next three World Cups.
Ball Six – Not this time though. Arjuna’s pre-match comments had got the Australians playing the man and not the ball. He was more Australian than the Australians, and there’s little an Aussie hates more than that. Of course, all the mind games in the world count for nothing without the players to back them up. In Aravinda de Silva, Ranatunga had the talent he needed and the tiny maestro did not let his captain down. Aravinda was there at the end to savour his country’s finest sporting moment, but he didn’t score the winning runs. You can guess who did.
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.