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SK Flashback: The 1992 Cricket World Cup was a game-changer

ANALYST
Feature
488   //    09 May 2019, 18:30 IST

Pakistan Captain Imran Khan at the1992 Cricket World Cup Final
Pakistan Captain Imran Khan at the1992 Cricket World Cup Final

Post-Packer Australia was fast establishing itself as the modern abode of the game. After India’s 1983 triumph paved the way for staging the next World Cup tournament on their shores, Australia could not be denied the same right after their own day of glory at Calcutta in 1987.

New Zealand shared the honour of hosting the show along with Australia, and Benson and Hedges sponsored the tournament this time, paying $5 million.

That cricket had finally emerged from its cocoon of conservatism was in stark evidence as the players pranced around at night in colourful outfits under the dazzling lights of Perth, Sydney and Melbourne. A sparkling globe of Waterford crystal costing $15,000, and mounted on a base embellished with nine medals displaying the coat of arms of the competing teams, replaced the traditional silver (or gold) cup.

And it was Pakistan’s turn to claim the coveted prize this time.

A shrewd marketing blitz was launched, and there were a slew of official sponsors including Tyrell's wine. Kookaburra supplied the white balls and the largest assortment of coloured pads ever to be on show.

Put on sale was a special collection of coins priced at over 1.71 million Australian dollars ($1.13 million), in sterling silver and 18-carat gold, with the World Cup engraved on them. These were similar to the nine medals mounted on the base of the trophy.

There were 5,000 such sterling silver and 19 gold World Cup coin sets issued for souvenir hunters. The silver sets cost Aus $365 each, while the gold ones were priced at Aus $4510. 

The prize money increased to Aus $290,000 ($191,000). The winners received Aus $50,000, the runners-up Aus $25,000, and the losing semi-finalists Aus $12,500 each.

This time there was a prize awarded to the man-of-the-tournament, called world champion, worth Aus $5,000 plus a Nissan 300 car. It was won by New Zealand skipper Martin Crowe.

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The guarantee money paid to the nine teams was Aus $200,000 each. 

The South Africans were welcomed back into the fold. With Zimbabwe gaining full membership too, this was the first occasion when the World Cup was contested by the Test-playing countries only.

All the nine teams played each other in a round-robin league. And it was in many ways a tournament of upsets.

None of the three past champions - West Indies, India and Australia - made it to the semi-finals. Instead it was New Zealand who had a dream run of seven consecutive wins, before they crashed in the last two matches, including the semi-final.

South Africa too surprised everyone by quickly finding their feet on their return to international cricket after 21 years. They made it to the semi-finals as well. 

There was, however, some controversy over the rule for re-calculation of the target in rain-interrupted matches, whereby the highest-scoring overs of the team batting first were taken into consideration. As a result, there were instances when the target scores were not reduced by much, even as the number of balls to be faced were curtailed by a large number. The South Africans were victims of this in their semi-final against England. 

The two finalists were England and Pakistan. For England it was the third final and for Pakistan made their maiden entry. The newbies ended up lifting the trophy in this new-look tournament. The traditional game had at last bridged the schism with the modern world. 

The final

MCG, Melbourne, 25 March 1992

Pakistan won by 22 runs

Pakistan: 249 for 6 wickets in 50 overs (Imran Khan 72, Javed Miandad 58, Inzamam-ul-Haq 42, Wasim Akram 33, Derek Pringle 3 for 22)

England: 227 all out in 49.2 overs (Neil Fairbrother 62, Allan Lamb 31, Wasim Akram 3 for 49, Mushtaq Ahmed 3 for 41)

Man of the Match: Wasim Akram

Player of the Tournament (World Champion): Martin Crowe

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