You are often left feeling a cocktail of emotions when looking back on the 11 Cricket World Cups to have taken place, as they have each provided breath-taking moments that still impress, astound, or even horrify to this day.

 

Cricket World Cup 1983: Australia vs Zimbabwe

Back in 1983, cricket didn’t do upsets or surprises. Fledgling cricketing nations were swept aside with ease whenever they met one of the big boys and that was that. At least it was like that until Zimbabwe met Australia at the 1983 World Cup in Nottingham.

Duncan Fletcher had other ideas, but coming in at 94/5, it looked like the procession was in full swing.

The left-handed Fletcher took the attack to the Australians and ended up scoring 69 off 84 balls, which back in 1983 was considered breakneck speed for batting. In the end, Zim would post 239/6 in their allotted 60 overs.

Fletcher wasn’t finished yet and took the game by the scruff of the neck – this time with the ball. He struck four times to cripple Australia in their run chase as they could only muster 226/7 in 60 overs, which would see them lose by 13 runs.

History had been made thanks to Duncan Fletcher’s remarkable effort with bat and ball and because of that, the tournament's long history of upsets would begin.

By the time the 2020 T20 World Cup comes around, opposing teams would do well not to write Zimbabwe off, even if they are at 500/1 to win the event in the sports betting, as they are more than capable of repeating their 1983 heroics.

 

Cricket World Cup 1987: India vs Australia

The game between India and Australia in Madras during the 1987 World Cup had it all. However, it must be said that it is considered one of the greatest games ever because of an umpiring decision that undoubtedly would not have stood today.

Australia would set 268 to win in their 50 overs, but there was a moment of controversy after Australian batsman Dean Jones hit Mahinder Singh down the ground over Ravi Shastri’s head for what he thought was a six.

Shastri saw it differently and told umpire Dickie Bird that it was only a four. Incensed, Dean Jones protested and even went to speak to match referee Hanif Mohammad after he got out.  

Mohammad brought the issue to the attention of Dickie Bird during the innings break, which prompted the umpire to walk into India’s change room to ask Shastri once more, if it was indeed a six or four.

This time around, Shastri changed his tune and said it was actually a six. Australia’s score would change to 270, which proved to be decisive as India could only manage 269 in their reply; losing by one run.

It is unclear today whether or not Ravi Shastri still subscribes to the notion of honesty being the best policy. It may not rank as the most controversial cricket moment of all-time, but it could well be the weirdest.

 

Cricket World Cup 1996: Sri Lanka vs Australia

The final of the 1996 World Cup was the cherry on the cake for Sri Lanka and just reward for their innovative efforts during the lead-up to the final.

It did, however, look a bridge too far to beat an Australian team that comprised of the Waugh brothers, Shane Warne and Glenn McGrath, to name just a few.

Arjuna Ranatunga asked Australia to bat first and despite a sensational start, the Baggy Green limped home to score 241/7 in their 50 overs. The Sri Lankan spinners weaved their magic and turned the final on its head as they reduced Australia to 150/5 after being 137/1.

Both Sri Lankan openers perished before the score got to 20, but that wouldn’t stop them reaching the Australian total inside 45 overs to lift their maiden World Cup trophy – in large part thanks to Aravinda De Silva’s 107 not out.

Times have changed somewhat these days, with the Sri Lankans a shadow of their former selves – as their odds of 100/1 in the cricket bet markets will show – but they certainly revolutionised ODI cricket.

 

Cricket World Cup 2011: England vs Ireland

For Ireland, the group stage game against England in Bengaluru was their cup final.

Sadly for the Irish, England selected to bat and proceeded to smash the men in light green all over the park, eventually amassing an incredible 327/8. The contest looked over before it began.

Things didn’t improve for Ireland with the bat, either, when an early collapse left them at 111/5 and only one punch away from hitting the canvas. A burly Kevin O'Brien walked to the wicket and the world, quite rightly, thought absolutely nothing of it.

What followed was arguably the most sensational World Cup knock the world has seen. The 27-year-old launched the England attack high into the Bengaluru sky as he hit half a dozen sixes and thirteen fours to score the fastest century in World Cup history.

Ireland had stunned England - and live betting users - by reaching their target of 328 in the 50th and final over.

 

Cricket World Cup 1999: Australia vs South Africa

This was an agonising semi-final contest that toyed with the emotions of both sets of supporters, with neither team able to get away.

At one stage, you would have put the house on Australia winning, but then an hour later it looked like South Africa couldn’t lose; it was was simply the most exhilarating game of World Cup cricket to be played and one dubbed the greatest ODI of them all.

Chasing Australia’s modest target of 213, the Proteas started off well, getting up to 48 without loss until Steve Waugh tossed the ball to Shane Warne. In the blink of an eye, the score changed to 53/3, and the odds at betting sites were turned.

This cat and mouse carried on all the way through the South African chase. Eventually, it came down to the last over, with the Proteas needing nine off six balls.

Lance Klusener took strike and sent the first two balls of the over crashing into the fence for four. The scores were tied and all South Africa needed was one run off the next four balls.

Damien Fleming managed to bowl a dot ball next up, but his fourth ball of the over was hit down the ground and off Klusener set to complete the winning run.

However, his partner at the other end, Allan Donald, was ball watching, and given the noise of the raucous crowd, he couldn't hear Klusener’s shout of "run!".

In one of the worst mix-ups the game has ever seen, both Proteas batsmen ended up at the same end as Gilchrist whipped the bails off to send South Africa out the tournament.

There can be no greater World Cup game than this, purely because of the sheer drama it dished up. Indeed, most of those watching that day are still in a state of disbelief at how it all played on an overcast day in Birmingham.

 

*Odds subject to change - correct at time of writing*

About the Author
By
888sport

The 888sport blog, based at 888 Towers in the heart of London, employs an army of betting and tipping experts for your daily punting pleasure, as well as an irreverent, and occasionally opinionated, look at the absolute madness that is the world of sport.