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England at WORLD CUP 1992

by Daniel Wood

These days Cricket World Cups are two a penny, a T20 one here, a 50 over one there, the World Test Championship. It seems that at any given time you’re never more than a tired, overused strip of grass 22 yards long away from being part of a coronation for the latest “world champions” in whatever format makes the most money at the time.

Don’t think me too highfalutin not to be looking forward to the latest imminent instalment of World Cup magic however with Jos and the boys preparing to do battle Down Under. It’s just not like the old days though is it….

Winter 1991, Sir Ian Botham is appearing at the Bournemouth Pavilion Theatre playing the King in Jack and the Beanstalk, England are busy touring New Zealand and everyone in the country, barring a few Barmy Army OGs have no idea that the Benson & Hedges World Cup is about to begin.

England, runners up in the previous tournament in India and Pakistan certainly had the makings of a decent side. The classic mix of youth (Fairbrother, Stewart) and experience (Botham, Gooch) sprinkled with quality all-rounders (Pringle, Lewis, Reeve, DeFreitas) and a decent run of limited-over form in the run up to the event meant we were dreaming of cricketing success on a global scale.

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“Beefy” seemed ready for his swan song. As had been the case for a decade and a half he intimidated the Australians and in his team’s opening 6 matches with him opening the batting and still providing a threat with the ball England defeated their old enemy as well as India, West Indies, Sri Lanka and South Africa and were robbed of a perfect 6 out of 6 only by the rain as they skittled out eventual winners Pakistan for 74. Indeed, if the weather hadn’t intervened then England would have faced a different route to glory and Imran and Javed Miandad would not have had their success.

Unfortunately, as England ran out of steam so did their hopes of lifting their first ever limited over trophy. The idea in any tournament is to peak at the end but England stumbled out of the group stages losing their final two matches to New Zealand and embarrassingly, Zimbabwe.

This was before controversially defeating South Africa in a semi-final which became the mother of the Duckworth-Lewis method. The Proteas went from requiring 22 from 13 before a rain break to needing a revised 22 from 1 after using the ‘Most productive overs method’.

This needs to be tempered by the other farcical rule in force at this World Cup though. If the side batting first couldn’t get through their 50 overs within the allotted time, then the game would be reduced to a 45 over ‘slog’ – the obvious drawback with this is that the side batting first wouldn’t know how many overs they would be facing until late on, giving the chasing team a clear advantage. South Africa had gained this advantage.

The final was a game too far. Controversial umpiring decisions and dropped catches meant that Pakistan gained more than a measure of revenge for their group stage humbling. Wasim Akram, the tournament’s highest wicket taker was man of the match after bludgeoning a quick fire 33 to set England a competitive 250 before dismissing Botham, Lamb and Lewis to rip the heart out of England’s chase.

It was the end of the road for many of the team and the next few World Cups were unmitigated disaster. A T20 success aside we had to wait a further 27 years for cricket to finally come home, not sure that game will stick in the memory for long though…………

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