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Saturday, February 24, 2007

Recipe for World Cup Success

What is going to be the crucial strategy for the winning team in this World Cup?

There have been differing strategies for each of the World Cup, followed by the winning teams in the earlier versions. These have enabled their side to defeat the other teams and grab the Cup. A look at the history will reveal the secrets.

The 1975 and 1979 World Cup were won by the West Indies team, which was strong in all departments - batting, bowling and fielding. The wins coincided with the team's dominance in test cricket as well. Clive Lloyd, armed with his battery of fast bowlers, sharp fielders and attacking batsmen had no team able to answer the questions that they posed. While Viv Richards impressed with his fielding skills in the 1975 version, it was his batting skills that shone in the next edition.

Even though the 1983 West Indies team also had a similar set of players, it was felt that they were a bit over-confident in the finals against the Indians, that led to the downfall. The Indians, on the other hand, had a team that had the bits-and-pieces players like Mohinder Amarnath, Roger Binny, Madan Lal, Kirti Azad, Sandeep Patil who could contribute in more than one area. Sharp fielders like Srikkanth, Yashpal Sharma added to the team's strength. One can see that we have come around a circle in terms of the demands of personnel in a playing eleven. Greg Chappell's stance that he wanted players who could contribute in multiple areas (like fielding and batting/bowling) only emphasizes the reasons why India won the 1983 World Cup. This contributed to the Indian team's winning exploits for the next 2 years, where they won the World Championship in Australia.

In 1987, the Australians had a good allround team - David Boon and Geoff Marsh providing the team with solid starts, Dean Jones and Allan Border at the middle-order who could consolidate, Craig Mcdermott and Bruce Reid to do the bowling honors. The side also had Steve Waugh and Simon O'Donnell, who could turn their arm over in crucial spells while also adding precious runs to the team total. In fact, the 1987 World Cup was famous for Steve Waugh's exploits in the final overs of the match.

In 1992, the Pakistan team again had a strong team that came into their best form by the finals. The team was boosted by strong individual performances that boosted the team's hopes.Javed Miandad, Inzamam-ul-Haq, Imran Khan provided the batting strength while the bowling department was taken care by Wasim Akram and Mushtaq Ahmed mainly.

The 1996 version was won by the Sri Lankans, who by their clever planning had a similar team as the 1983 Indians. The bits-and-pieces players in this time included Jayasuriya, Aravinda de Silva, Gurusinha, Arjuna Ranatunga - who could contribute with their batting and useful bowling at crucial junctures.

Australia won the 1999 and 2003 versions of the World Cup on strength of their all-round skills. The team's victories, just like the West Indies teams of 1975 and 1979, was a reflection of the team's dominance in test cricket. Glen Mcgrath, Ricky Ponting were some of the players who have played in both the versions of the tournament. No team has come even close to the Australian team, in breaking their stranglehold on World Cricket. No wonder the 2 teams who won 2 World Cups in a row are ranked by cricket pundits all round the world as the 2 Best Cricket teams ever to have played.

The West Indies couldnt repeat their wins third time in a row in 1983. Will the Aussies be able to break the jinx this time?
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