Lights, colour, action... all innovation

Lights, colour, action... all innovation

World Cup 2015: Here's a close look at experiments that have taken the event forward

Lights, colour, action... all innovation

World Cup, a stage where the best competes, is not exactly a place for experiments. It is a culmination of drills that would have begun months ago.

However, some don't like walking down the trodden path. They dare to be innovative in thinking. Cricket World Cups too have not been an exception. Let’s take a look at some of those innovations that captivated the fans around the world.

Dipak Patel opening the bowling in 1992

In Martin Crowe, New Zealand had a skipper who loved to think out of the box. The Kiwis didn’t have the firepower to outmuscle opposition, and Crowe knew they had to surprise them to make progress. Three days before their opening match against Australia, Crowe and team manager Warren Lees told Dipak Patel that he would open the bowling against their trans-Tasman rival.

Patel did well in that game bowling an economical spell of 10-1-36-1, and he also took the crucial wicket of Allan Border. Crowe decided to persist with that strategy, and it played a huge role in NZ reaching the semis.

Greatbatch as pinch-hitting opener in 1992

New Zealand started the tournament with the conventional opening pair of John Wright and Rod Latham. They were not an utter failure in the matches against Australia and Sri Lanka but Crowe thought his team needed more impetus at the top to utilise the fielding restrictions in the first 10 overs. He didn’t have to look beyond Mark Greatbatch, who had a good couple of seasons prior to the World Cup.  

Greatbatch opened in the third game against South Africa in place of Wright, and made an immediate impact. He scored a 60-ball 68. The left-hander made 313 runs from seven matches at a shade over 44. 

Sanath Jayasuriya & Romesh Kaluwitharana

When Arjuna Ranatunga, a master tactician, made Sanath Jayasuriya and Romesh Kaluwitharana open the innings in the 1996 World Cup, his immediate aim was to rattle the opposition by exploiting the fielding restrictions in the first 15 overs. But he would not have envisaged then that it was the first step in rewriting the way cricket was played.

Jayasuriya and Kaluwitharana, essentially two lower-order batsmen till then, were promoted as openers and they took on the bowlers in a hitherto unknown manner. ‘Little Kalu’ also doubled up as stumper, and he was the prototype of wicketkeepers who also played a big role as batsman in ODIs.

The 1992 World Cup

The tournament itself was an innovation. The fifth edition of the tournament held in Australia and New Zealand infused colour into cricket officially. The pundits of the cricketing world had seen Kerry Packer’s World Series tournament in the 70s, and contemptuously termed it as ‘Pajama cricket.’ But two decades later, the authorities realised that it was the way forward to keep the sport relevant.

In addition to the coloured clothes with names of the players on the back, the 1992 event also witnessed some radical changes. The white ball, one each from two ends, and floodlights were pressed into service. Then there was the controversial rain-rule, charted by a panel of experts headed by Richie Benaud, that robbed South Africa a potential berth in the final.

Squash it like Adam

By the time he played in the 2007 World Cup in the Caribbean, Adam Gilchrist was nearing the end of an illustrious career in which he bruised bowlers’ egos quite mercilessly. The southpaw wasn’t exactly in great touch during that tournament. Before the final against Sri Lanka, ‘Gilly’ asked his long-time friend and former first-class cricketer Bob Meuleman to help him strengthen his unusually high grip.
Meuleman told him to insert a squash ball inside his glove, and the result was stunning a 104-ball 149 with 13 fours and eight sixes that ensured Australia the third straight World Cup triumph.

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