Wednesday 31 July 2013 

Captains Remember 1992 World Cup

Curtly Ambrose (right) bowls during a 1992 World Cup match against England
© REUTERS / Action Images
 

As part of the launch of the 2015 World Cup, the captains of the teams that reached the semi-finals when the tournament was last hosted in Australia and New Zealand, look back.

Pakistan beat England in the final of a tournament that saw the eight teams play each other in a league system before the top four - South Africa and New Zealand joining the finalists - progressed to the semi-finals.

Imran Khan led Pakistan to victory in front of 88,000 spectators at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG), which will also host the final in 2015.

"Winning the ICC Cricket World Cup 1992 was one of the biggest achievements of my cricketing career," Khan says.

"We had a difficult start to the World Cup as we were without our biggest match-winners, Waqar Younis and Saeed Anwar. In addition to this Javed Miandad and I were injured, and carried these injuries throughout the tournament."

Pakistan three of their first five matches before rallying, winning five games in a row to lift the title.

"Despite early setbacks, we knew we needed one good win in the ICC Cricket World Cup 1992 and we would be back in contention. The win over Australia (in Perth by 48 runs) provided us that momentum and then there was no looking back for us.

“We had a side which was confident and had self-belief, something we had been carrying for the last three years since our victory over the West Indies in the Nehru Cup final in Kolkata in 1989.

"I rate the moments after the World Cup victory as the most pleasing and satisfying of my career as I had never seen the people of Pakistan so happy."

While Pakistan have been unable to repeat their World Cup success (the closest they came was reaching the final in 1999), England have yet to get that far again and are still searching a maiden World Cup win, as Gooch relates.

"It was the last World Cup I played in and I captained the side. Looking back I’m proud of our performances throughout the competition, we were probably the form side during the tournament and played good cricket until the final when we didn’t have our best day.

"We were beaten by Pakistan who played very well and certainly developed as a side throughout the competition. We had an opportunity to knock them out of the World Cup earlier in the tournament when we bowled them out for 74, but the match was rained off."

Remembering the final, Gooch added: “Wasim Akram was one of the stand-out players of the tournament and is probably up there in the top three bowlers I’ve ever played against.

"In the final when he removed Allan Lamb and Chris Lewis in consecutive balls it pretty much ended our title hopes. You need wicket takers in World Cups, bowlers who can change the game for you and he managed to do that time and again.

"Overall I’ve got good memories of 1992 but one of the biggest regrets of my career is that we reached three finals but didn’t get over the line in any of them."

Martin Crowe, who led New Zealand to the semi-finals, says that 1992 was possible New Zealand's best chance of winning a World Cup - although they have subsequently reached semi-finals in 2007 and 2011.

"I think it was the best opportunity in our history to win the World Cup. We scored 262 on a slow pitch (against Pakistan in semi-final), which we thought was a winning score. However, it was decided that I should not take the field so that I could be fit for the final that was to be played four days later. In hindsight if I had stayed on the field, we could have defended that total.
 
"We had planned a successful campaign for over 18 months. Unity, innovation, surprise, and courage were the main priorities in planning. We set the goal of being the best defensive bowling and fielding team by mixing economy and attack. We got on a roll and with an ounce of luck could've won the World Cup the way we were playing.

"My injury killed it for us."

Kepler Wessels talks of the 'incredible experience' that he enjoyed leading South Africa in their first World cup since readmission.

“Captaining South Africa during the World Cup in 1992 was an incredible experience. It was an emotional time in South Africa cricket and the way the whole country embraced the team and the tournament will remain with me forever.

“We had entered the event as complete underdogs, but surprised the cricketing world by reaching the semi-final through some gutsy and professional performances."

During the semi-final against England, in one of cricket's more farcical moments - of which the World Cup has, unfortunately, provided its fair share - South Africa left the field needing 22 runs to win off 13 balls but when play resumed they were left with the impossible target of 22 in one ball.
 
"The semi-final itself was a real heart-stopper and I still believe we had a chance of progressing to the final had rain not intervened. In fact, if the current Duckworth/Lewis Method existed then, then we would have got through."

© Cricket World 2013