On Sunday July 14, a set of cricketers will etch their names into cricket history by becoming the 12th side to win the World Cup. What does it mean to win this title? Three former winners tell us how it felt to be known as “champions of the world”.
Aaqib Javed, Pakistan bowler, 1992:
Aaqib took 2-27 from his 10 overs, and picked up a fine outfield catch to dismiss Graham Gooch as Pakistan beat England to claim the title in Australia.
"I was pretty young, and winning a World Cup is a huge thing. Especially as a Pakistani, because the amount of love and passion our people have for the game is out of this world.
Before winning the World Cup, of course you felt pride to represent your country and wear this shirt. But after we won it, everything was turned upside down.
Now people were looking at you as world champions. This was a big, big change.
West Indies were favourites in 1975, they were favourites in 1979. Australia were favourites in 1999, 2003, 2007, and 2015 as well. But sometimes the underdogs can just play their game, and thrive in a relaxed environment.
We were in no position in the middle of the tournament. Momentum has to start during the middle of the tournament. Sometimes sides can have momentum at the start of the tournament, but that doesn’t count for much.
If you compare this Pakistan team to the ’92 team, I think there is a huge difference in terms of match-winners. In that World Cup, we had a slightly weaker bowling side, after losing Waqar [Younis, who missed out due to injury], and losing Saeed Anwar was also a big setback.
But we still had six or seven match-winners in that team. In the shorter version of the game, you always need to have match-winners. In one-day games, one player can decide the fate of the game."
Madan Lal, India bowler, 1983:
Lal scored some important lower-order runs, then dismissed Desmond Haynes, Viv Richards and Larry Gomes, as “Kapil’s Devils” beat West Indies by 43 runs at Lord’s.
"I think 1983 was one of the biggest victories in the history of cricket. What happened after 1983, if you look at the whole world’s cricketing nations, they all started to believe they could win the World Cup as well. After that, Pakistan won, Sri Lanka won. Everything had changed.
Now look at Indian cricket. They are one of the best teams. Look at them from a commercial point of view, and in terms of how we have grown. In India, we will not be short of talent now, because we have organised our cricket very well. There are a lot of talented youngsters playing.
It changed the whole complexion of the game in India. Even now, people still recognise us. It is not that life has changed, but definitely cricket has grown. Once we came back from winning the World Cup, there were a lot of receptions to celebrate us, and that sort of thing.
But it was all about the respect we got. We are still given that respect. People always remember us, because they realise this was such an important victory in the history of Indian cricket, and cricket itself.
I don’t watch the highlights of the game. I don’t need to. I remember everything about it. At Lord’s, even the English people wanted us to win, because everyone loves an underdog. and we beat the best side in the world."
Vanburn Holder, West Indies bowler, 1975:
The Barbadian seamer bowled the last ball of the first World Cup final – twice. West Indies’ celebrations were initially premature when he took the last wicket off a no-ball. It merely delayed the party, as Australia’s 17-run loss was confirmed straight away after.
"It meant a lot, because we were successful of course. Back then, we were still playing in the usual flannels rather than pyjamas. It was how the World Cup began.
We were successful because most of our players were playing county cricket. We were playing in those conditions every week, so we knew what it was all about, and we enjoyed it. It was nice to be successful.
We had a few scares along the way. Against Pakistan at Edgbaston, myself, Andy Roberts and Deryck Murray had to get the runs [the last two wickets put on 101, as West Indies beat Pakistan by one wicket, with two balls to spare].
In fact, we shouldn’t have won that. They were captained badly, as they used the wrong bowlers. They had bowled all their best bowlers out early doors, and they were using people who weren’t regular bowlers. [Wasim Raja bowled the last over of the game, which was his first over of the match].
We played the game hard. We wouldn’t let up, even if we were playing against a side who couldn’t play. We played as though every game was going to be a hard one. There was no slackening. It wouldn’t have been allowed with the captain we had [Clive Lloyd].
We always wanted to win, that is why we won so many things. You had to want it badly, otherwise they wouldn’t have let you play. And it helped that we all played county cricket, because we had to be disciplined."