The guns had gone silent, empires in ruins, heroes laid to rest and legacies, left forever. The entire cricketing world now looks upside down, something new, something amiss even as to think that its finest warrior had called it quits. For many fool hardy fans like me, cricket is never just any other game its something bigger than that.
We had some of our finest moments of our childhood closely associated with it. Whether watching Sachin and Sourav taking the opposition apart or learning to hold the bat from our brothers or to play our first local league match , cricket is a part of our life. We had grown up watching our heroes battling out their greatest opponents, taking on the giants, to beat them in their own backyards.
They are a part of our memories and we will cherish them forever. All the teams battling out there for glory and mostly for the holy grail of cricket, the World Cup gives us immense pleasure to be a part of those battles. Taking a look back at the cricket my generation had witnessed and it gives me a great pleasure to relive those memories once again.
Taking the World Cup as the Iron Throne and all the teams as possible contenders for sitting upon it I had gone through the last 20 years, 5 World Cups, 7 teams , scores of players, and hundreds of favorite moments. Its just my view of those matches and persons.
Australia, The House of Lions :
Words- The Invincibles
Every story of cricket in its modern form begins with Australia for they had dominated the game throughout the 1990′s and 2000′s. Allan Border’s 1987 World Cup winning team had raised the bars for any future Australian team and under the leadership of Steve Waugh they became a force to reckon with. The Australian Cricket Team under Steve Waugh won the 1999 World Cup and defended it in 2003 ,2007 again under Ricky Ponting to become the first team to complete a hat-trick of World Cup wins.
The team was well served by players like Steve Waugh, Shane Warne, Glenn McGrath,Ricky Ponting, Mark Waugh who had proved time and again worth wearing those yellow jerseys. With the arrival of Adam Gilchrist and Micheal Bevan they all the fire power to take out any target and with Warne and McGrath ready to defend any target they became unstoppable. The Australian Cricket Team under Steve Waugh won the 1999 World Cup and that marked the beginning of Aussie domination in World Cricket.
The team was also well served with new inductions of Brett Lee, Gillespie, Mathew Hayden and Justin Langer. They found their perfect playing XI and they made winning a habit. They defended the 2003 World Cup with a few new faces including Brad Hogg, Andrew Symonds and Damien Martyn and the rookie Mr.Cricket. 2007 is just another chance to prove their class once again and to make history by becoming the first team to complete a hat-trick of World Cup wins.
Captain(current) : Michael Clarke, and his Deputy : George Bailey
Former Captains and key Players : Steve Waugh,Ricky Ponting, Shane Warne, Glenn McGrath, Mark Waugh,Adam Gilchrist, Micheal Bevan,Brett Lee, Gillespie, Mathew Hayden,Andrew Symonds ,Damien Martyn,M.Hussey,Brad Hogg
Famous Battles Won :
1) World Cup of 1999 , beat Pakistan by 8 wickets at Lord’s Cricket Ground in London under Steve Waugh.
2) World Cup of 2003, beat India in the final played in The Wanderers in Johannesburg under Ricky Ponting.
3) World Cup of 2007, beat Srilanka in Kensington Oval, Bridgetown, Barbados.
4) The unbeaten record in Ashes series from 1989-2003
No tale is perfect and there is always an untold story after every happy ending. One day suddenly the invincible fortress looked bleak as it’s shining knights did not report to their duties. One by one the old guard had called it quits and made way for the younger generation to take their place. The young team is not left astray as they too found some talented players. But it is no more invincible and never won over the opposition by sheer dominance and brutal force. They were unable to defend the 2011 World Cup or their Test status. Despite having really good players in Micheal Clarke, Shane Watson and many young players they still got a lot of ground to cover to catch up with their predecessor
ICC Test Championship - 5th
ICC ODI Championship- 2nd
India, The Land of Tigers :
Words- The ball is turning
When darkness surrounded the future of Indian cricket it needed a team of great players more than ever to win back everything it had lost. And it’s call had been answered by the finest men to serve under its banner only to be dubbed as the Golden era of the Indian cricket. Indian cricket was blessed with a bunch of players who remained clean from the scandals and who still dreamed for their nation.
Sachin, Ganguly, Dravid, VVS, Kumble and a few other senior players were with the team when it need them the most. They rose had been as beautiful as the flight of phoenix rising from the ashes as they won over visiting Austrialans, later the Natwest trophy and making it to the final of Word Cup of 2003. The team with the addition of few more youngster they later went on to win the inagural T20 world cup , World Cup in 2011 and the No.1 status in Test cricket. Its the tale of a team rising from depths backed by a bunch of dedicated players who took to it a new height.
Captain: M.S.Dhoni , Deputy : Virat Kohli
Former Captains and key Players: Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly, Rahul Dravid, Anil Kumble, VVS Laxman, Harbhajan Singh, Zaheer Khan, Virender Sehwag, Yuvraj Singh ,Virat Kohli, Suresh Raina.
Famous Battles won:
1)The battle of Eden Gardens,Kolkatta, March 2001. Beat Australia to witness the third win in the history of Test cricket when a team won after forced to follow-on.
2) The final of Natwest trophy in 2002 at Lord’s , London. Beat England in a 300+ run chase to find its skipper defying all the rules of the Gentleman’s game to take off his shirt to wave at his winning team.
3)The battle of Centurion,2003 World Cup. Perhaps the most awaited match of the year in which sparks blew as Sachin went on a rampage mode as India beat its arch rivals Pakistan.
4)The final of 2007 T20 World Cup made way for the change of guard in Indian cricket team and paved the way for the younger lot.
5) Wankhede Stadium had witnessed the glory of Indian cricket as MSD lifted the World Cup for India after 28 years and more beautiful sight of Sachin kissing it filled every Indian fan with tears.
India is always the toughest part for the west to visit and conquer. It withstood many such invasions only to become much stronger and more resilient. The ball turns here and the batsmen hits them hard.The tale of a resurgent India began by taking the Goliath by its horns. When Steve Waugh’s team had set foot in India, they were on a winning streak and this series was supposed to be the parting gift to their legendary skipper.
The match in Mumbai proved to be too simple and the number of consecutive wins stood at 16 and the next match in Eden Gardens, Kolkatta looked very much same after the 1st innings. But two young men, VVS and Rahul Dravid had different plans and the match ended up as only the third win in the history of Test cricket when a team won after forced to follow-on. The team had found its leader in Sourav Ganguly and the rest answered the skippers call to take the world on. Sachin, Sourav, Dravid, VVS, and Kumble served their team with all their might and left it in a better state than they have found.
The team was blessed to have these masters at work along with a few youngsters who had learnt a great deal by rubbing shoulders with them. In MSD the team found its new Ganguly who went to become a master of the craft and won everything a captain could win.
ICC Test Championship - 3rd
ICC ODI Championship- 1st