Controversies have always been a part of cricket and World Cup, like any other tournament, has had its share of untoward incidents that have threatened to overshadow the on-field events. From South Africa’s controversial loss via the rain rules method in the 1992 World Cup to the tragic and suspicious death of Pakistan coach Bob Woolmer during the 2007 edition, the list of controversies is a long and an infamous one.
Zeecric.com recalls a few of the most forgettable events in the history of the cricket World Cup:
Playing their first ever World Cup after being reinstated into the game, South Africa had a most unmemorable tournament as rain gods played havoc with their dream of winning the coveted trophy. The Proteas were knocked out in their semi-final game against England as rain took away the sheen off what had been a keenly fought contest until then. With SA requiring a difficult yet attainable 22 runs to win off 13 balls and four wickets in hand, rain struck, leaving both players and spectators with some anxious moments. When the rain finally stopped, the hapless South African’s were at the receiving end of the dubious rain rules method, which revised the target to an impossible 22 runs off 1 ball. The hue and cry raised by various quarters over the controversial decision led to the ICC contemplating a new, more transparent method of calculating the target in a rain curtailed game and finally led to the implementation of the Duckworth-Lewis system a few years later.
Security concerns, which were accentuated after the deadly attacks by the LTTE in the Island nation of Sri Lanka, led to West Indies and Australia opting to forfeit their games, which resulted in the Lankans getting the points from both the games. Both the countries had to face a lot of criticism for their action despite being given assurances about foolproof security.
India were one of the favourites to win the 1996 edition of the World Cup and were on a high after their thrashing of Pakistan in the quarter-final. However, their campaign came to an abrupt end as they were knocked out by a Rampaging Sri Lankan team. Chasing 252 to win on a turning Eden Gardens wicket, the Indians were cruising at 98/1 until the Lankan spinners wreaked havoc to reduce them to 120/8. With India almost out of the game, the crowd became restless and after a couple of disruptions, match referee Clive Lloyd decided to award the game to Sri Lanka.
Australian spinner Shane Warne’s off-field antics threatened to take the luster off his playing career yet again after he failed a drug test just before the beginning of the tournament and had to return home. Although he pleaded innocence suggesting that it may have been a weight reduction pill that had led to the failed drug test, Warne was banned from playing cricket for an entire year.
Long before the start of the 2003 World Cup, there was uncertainty over the matches scheduled to be played in Zimbabwe amidst great political instability in the African nation. In the end, England, who had registered the strongest protest, decided to boycott their game in Zimbabwe. Andy Flower and Henry Olonga, who had sported black armbands in Zimbabwe’s home game against Namibia to ‘mourn the death of democracy’, had to retire at the end of the tourney.
The World Cup in West Indies was supposed to be a carnival but turned out to be a disaster with numerous failings such as mismanagement, high ticket prices as well as India and Pakistan’s early exit contributing to it. However, the most tragic of all events was the mysterious death of Pakistan coach Bob Woolmer. Woolmer was found dead in his Jamaica hotel a day after Pakistan’s embarrassing loss at the hands of minnows Ireland. While local police suspected foul play during initial search, a special investigation team later decided to shut the case citing insufficient evidence.