Throughout the rich history of the tournament, we have seen teams raising the bars of their performances, and we’ve seen them facing the towering highs and the heartbreaking lows.
However, even as the teams continued to perform (and underperform), one thing which has remained consistent throughout the all the World Cup tournaments has been the controversies. Every edition of the World Cup has had a fair share of drama, and we take a look at some of the significant incidents which stirred controversy in the history of the World Cup.
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England vs South Africa – Semifinal, 1992
Old or young, every cricket fan is familiar with the infamous World Cup semifinal of 1992. The image of the scoreboard after the rain delay continues to haunt the South African fans to this date, and rightly so.
In the country’s first-ever World Cup appearance, South Africa made their way into the semifinal, where they faced England. The Proteas were in a strong position, needing 22 off the final 13 balls, when rain struck and shattered the South African hopes.
When the thunder finally stopped, the equation for South Africa was an improbable 22 off a single delivery. Brian McMillan patted the ball away for a single and furiously walked off the field. Well, you couldn’t blame him.
Javed Miandad vs Kiran More – 1992
The same edition of the World Cup also saw arch-rivals India and Pakistan taking each other on for the first time in the tournament’s history. While India registered a convincing victory, the game is best remembered for Javed Miandad’s theatrics.
Pakistan didn’t start their chase particularly well in the game, as opener Inzamam-ul-Haq and Zahid Fazal fell in quick succession. Aamer Sohail and Javed Miandad steered the sinking ship, but the run-rate was towering and Pakistan needed quick runs.
Miandad, who was going jittery, didn’t find it amusing when Kiran More made an extravagant appeal on Sachin Tendulkar’s delivery. The duo exchanged heated words, but umpire David Shepherd told them to get along with the game. On the next delivery, Miandad took a quick double, but with the batsman way inside the line, More needlessly struck off the bails.
This infuriated Miandad, and it was then, when Miandad’s giant leaps became a hallmark memory among the most controversial moments in the World Cup. With both arms raised and bat clutched with the hands, Miandad jumped in protest. However, More had the last laugh as he stumped Miandad out a few overs later.
Bob Woolmer’s death – 2007
The 2007 World Cup was a painful experience for Pakistan – both on and off-the-pitch. The side suffered a stunning defeat to tournament’s debutants Ireland, but the loss was dwarfed with a tragedy – the side’s coach, Bob Woolmer was found dead in the team hotel.
The investigations overshadowed the cricket, and it was later declared that Woolmer died of natural causes. However, conspiracy theories surrounding his death continue to persist.
Shane Warne fails drug test – 2003
Australia lifted the World Cup in 2003, even as they received a huge blow at the beginning of the tournament. Shane Warne, who was at his absolute prime at the time, received a ban after he was tested positive for a banned diuretic drug.
The spinner was eventually handed a one-year ban.
Forfeited games – 1996
Australia and West Indies forfeited their group games against Sri Lanka in the 1996 World Cup after unconvincing safety measures. Earlier in the year, the LTTE (Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam) bombed the Central Bank, which has significantly raised concerns over player-safety ahead of the tournament.
Sri Lanka were awarded the points for both the games. The side also went on to lift the World Cup.
India vs Sri Lanka – 1996
India met Sri Lanka in the semifinal of the World Cup at Eden Gardens in 1996. The host made a good start in their chase of 252, but the fall of Sachin Tendulkar triggered an embarrassing collapse for India.
At the time of Tendulkar’s wicket, India were 98-2. However, six wickets well within 22 runs – and it didn’t go well with the crowd in Kolkata. Violence erupted as the fans started throwing water-bottles on the ground, and even lit fire inside the stadium.
The match was eventually called-off, and the image of Vinod Kambli drenched in tears as he walked towards the dressing room is still remembered with a helpless thought of what could’ve been.