The butterfly effect is the theory that one small incident can ultimately cause a massive event elsewhere. For example, a butterfly flapping its wings in the Amazon rainforest could end up causing a hurricane thousands of miles away. The concept that a seemingly minor happening can actually change everything is also applicable to sport.Sport is very fickle in its nature. When dissecting a contest, wins or losses can generally be pinpointed on one or two moments. In cricket, we often look back at that wicket or a stunning assault from a red-hot batsman. The impacts of such events are usually restricted to the matches they occurred in, however, on occasions, they can have lasting effects on the sport as a whole.Certain plays over the years - such as an outrageous innings or dropped catch - have helped to sculpt the future. Without them cricket’s history, or even the game today, may not be as we know it. Here are five incidents which changed cricket forever.
#1 Sreesanth catching Misbah-ul-Haq to give India 2007 World T20 victory
In its early years, Twenty20 matches had much in common with Sunny Leone’s Bollywood movies – most people watched them, but not many would admit to it. T20 was a three-hour entertainment show; few considered it to be real cricket. A lot has changed in the past decade and, while the game is still a hit and a giggle, T20 is now the sport’s most lucrative format.
However, had it not been for India’s victory in the inaugural World T20 in 2007 - that could so easily not have happened - the cricketing calendar may not look as it does today. Misbah-ul-Haq threatened to take Pakistan to the triumph in the final, bringing the target required down to six runs from the final four deliveries. His attempted scoop off Joginder Sharma would have brought them even closer had it cleared Sreesanth at fine leg – but as we know, it did not clear Sreesanth.
India became world champions, and T20 fever gripped the nation. Seven months later, the Indian Premier League was born and cricket was transformed forever. The megabucks tournament set the trend and T20 leagues have sprung up across the globe. But suppose Misbah carried his side to glory instead - would India still have pioneered franchise cricket like they have? Who knows?
#2 Kerry Packer and World Series Cricket
Rumours often circle about a major split in cricket, and breakaways have happened. The rebel Indian Cricket League enjoyed a brief moment in the spotlight in the 2000s, and what will emerge from Essel Group’s shady plans is currently anyone’s guess. However, in the 1970s, a real risk of a permanent split arose when Australian media mogul Kerry Packer founded World Series Cricket (WSC).
Disgruntled with poor salaries, many of cricket’s best decided to sign up for the rebellion, including Tony Greig and Clive Lloyd – the captains of England and West Indies. The competition ran for two seasons between 1977 and 1979 and featured three teams: WSC Australia XI, WSC West Indies XI and WSC World XI. As WSC was unofficial, instead of Tests the five-day matches were dubbed “Supertests”, but it was one-day cricket which the competition set out to change.
In came coloured clothing, day-night matches and, indeed, the chant: “C’mon Aussie C’mon.” After a slow start, WSC increased crowd numbers in its second season, but were unable to sustain them. Both the Australian Cricket Board and WSC slipped into financial strife, and the sport was reunified in May 1979. However, Packer’s brainchild firmly flung cricket into the entertainment business, and his ideas are still very much present today.
#3 Rahat Ali dropping Shane Watson in the 2015 World Cup
Pakistan has acquired a long-standing reputation for being the most mercurial team in world cricket. They have the potential to thrill and dominate, but just as easily they can frustrate and wither away. Their 2015 World Cup campaign began horribly with defeats to India and West Indies, however, they managed to recover and impress as the tournament went on. A stirring win over highly-fancied South Africa helped to set up a blockbuster quarter-final with hosts Australia.
Mirroring their performances throughout the competition, Pakistan failed with the bat in Adelaide; leaving their bowlers with a Herculean task. “Want a semi-final? Put it on my back,“ said Wahab Riaz, who bowled one of the most fearsome fast-bowling spells in years as they roared back into contention. David Warner and Michael Clarke quickly departed, leaving Australia teetering at 59-3 and still over 150 runs from victory.
Then came the turning point which quelled all Pakistani momentum. A fidgety Shane Watson succumbed to Wahab’s short-pitched missiles with the score on 75. A nervy pull shot travelled straight to Rahat Ali at fine leg, only for him to bobble the simplest of opportunities. Australia’s middle-order was not exposed, Watson’s 64 not out shepherded them to the semis and two weeks later they lifted the World Cup. It could have been so different.
#4 Kapil Dev\'s 175 in the 1983 World Cup
Few predicted India to mount a serious challenge at the 1983 World Cup; however, ultimately, it turned out to be the event where they really announced themselves as a cricketing powerhouse. In the final, they shocked the world by defending 183 to dethrone West Indies, who had won the first two editions of the competitions. Yet it was the actions of Kapil Dev in the group stage that really kick-started his country’s bid.
Locked in a battle with Australia to progress through Group B in second place, India’s hopes were in danger of fading rapidly as they collapsed to 17-5 against Zimbabwe at Tunbridge Wells. Openers Sunil Gavaskar and Kris Srikkanth both fell without scoring, and the failure of the entire top-order meant it was Kapil’s job to get the team to a fighting 60-over score.
He did much more than that. In a spellbinding attack, he smashed 175 from 138 balls – the world record ODI innings at the time – to haul India to 266-8, with 16 fours and six maximums. Syed Kirmani was the next highest scorer with 24. The Zimbabweans were bowled out for 235 as India pinched a 31-run win, and the latter cemented their place in the semi-finals by hammering Australia in the final group game. And we all know what happened next.
#5 Shane Warne dropping Kevin Pietersen in the 2005 Ashes
The 2005 Ashes series is fondly remembered as one of the best Test series ever, and one that left an entire country on tenterhooks for nearly two months. After four gripping matches, everything came down to the Oval. A win or a draw for England, and the urn would be returned to them for the first time in 18 years; however, if Australia prevailed, they would draw the series and therefore retain sport’s smallest trophy.
A finely balanced contest in south London came down to one pivotal moment. On the fifth day Australia were on the rampage, needing to bowl out England quickly and then hunt down a target. England soon found themselves three wickets down with their lead just 99, and things seemed like they were about to get even more perilous when Kevin Pietersen edged Brett Lee to Shane Warne at slip.
But the spin maestro couldn’t snaffle an easy chance, and Pietersen blazed to 158 with his second life. England grew their lead and sapped time out of the Test, and, as the Oval darkened on a gloomy September day, put the final touches on a magical summer. The underdogs had prevailed on home territory, ending almost 20 years of torment.
Cricket may never see a better series.