Top Five ODI teams in mid to late 90s
In every global sport, there are streaks of dominance by teams who look to be a cut above their competitors. In cricket, the Mighty Windies boasting of a plethora of match winners ruled the roost in the 70s and 80s. The turn of the new millennium saw Australia emerging as the Numero Uno ODI side winning a hat-trick of World Cups. With traditional powerhouses like West Indies and England witnessing a decline in the mid-90s, South Africa rose as one of the formidable challengers to Australia in limited overs cricket. The Proteas were at loggerheads with the Aussies in the battle for ODI supremacy. Then we had Sri Lanka who shed their underdog tag to become World Champions in 1996.
Meanwhile, sub-continent giants, Pakistan and India were always strong playing at home. New Zealand could not be written off as they were giant killers in major tournaments. It indeed was a highly competitive era in the shorter format of the game.
So let us go back in time and analyze as to who were the five strongest teams in ODI cricket in the mid and late 90s. I have taken into account the period from 1st Jan 1995 to 31st Dec 1999 for evaluating the results of the teams. The two major parameters for judging the success of a side was their ability to win matches consistently and the record at major ICC tournaments.
#1 South Africa
Post their readmission to international cricket in 1992, South Africa established itself as a formidable team in the ODI arena. The Proteas were second to none when it came to winning ODI games on a consistent basis. The South Africans were brilliantly led by a master tactician in Hansie Cronje who got the best out his team.
They had the arsenal in both batting and bowling to beat the best team on their day. They were simply unbeatable at home and also were a potent force traveling overseas. The Green and Gold brigade comprised of a dependable opening pair of Gary Kristen and Herschelle Gibbs. The middle order looked compact with Jacques Kallis, Hansie Cronje, Daryll Cullinan and Jonty Rhodes. Quality all-rounders like Brian McMillan, Shaun Pollock, and Lance Klusener provided depth to their batting.
The Proteas pace attack was one of the most lethal with a battery of speed merchants led by ‘White Lightning’ Alan Donald. Donald formed a lethal pace attack with Shaun Pollock, Fanie De Villiers, and Jacques Kallis. The South Africans were an exceptional fielding unit boasting of world-class fielders in Jonty Rhodes, Herschelle Gibbs, Derek Crooks and Brian McMillan.
The South Africans who consistently made it to the knockouts of major choked at crucial moments.
South Africa's Top 15 ODI players (1995-2000) - Gary Kristen, Herschelle Gibbs, Jacques Kallis, Daryll Cullinan, Hansie Cronje, Jonty Rhodes, Mark Boucher, Lance Klusener, Shaun Pollock, Allan Donald, Fanie De Villiers, Pat Symcox, Brian McMillan and Dave Richardson
ODI RECORD (Jan 1995-Dec 1999)
Played - 109 Won - 82 Lost - 23 Win % - 77.35
ICC World Cup
1996 – Quarterfinals
1999 - Semifinals
ICC Champions Trophy
1998 - Winners