A Complete History of World Cup Cricket

Published: 2014
Pages: 549
Author: Browning, M and Grapsas, J
Publisher: New Holland
Rating: 4 stars

A Complete History of World Cup Cricket

I like to immerse myself in any major sporting event, whether it’s the Olympics, Commonwealth Games or the Football World Cup. Unfortunately some sports have been poorly treated by historians and books about their history can be of a hit and miss nature. This is rarely allowed to happen with the sport of cricket, and A Complete History of World Cup Cricket ensures the tradition of cricket as the best covered sport in print form is continued.

If this book was simply a statistical record of each World Cup (WC) tournament it would still have been a valuable reference resource, but perhaps a little dry to read. Fortunately however Browning and Grapsas have focused on the combatants and their deeds as well as the controversies and anecdotes from each tournament.

From the 1975 WC, which was held over two weeks with the winners claiming a modest GBP9,000 in prize money, to the 2011 tournament, held over six weeks with USD3,000,000 to the winning team, the changes have been immense.

It will surprise the younger readers that it was not until the fifth WC in 1992 that coloured clothing, night cricket and on ground replays were introduced. Before this all players wore ‘whites’. The fourth WC was the first to introduce 50 over matches, with the first three cups held in England featuring 60 over per innings matches. The other noticeable change has been the number of games and formats. The first WC featured just 15 games, whereas by 2011, 49 matches were played. The format has changed from the top four qualifying for the finals to the top eight (super 8). The latter has sometimes meant that the early games played are nothing more than a warm up for the top teams and an obvious exit for the weaker countries.

The ever changing formats could be confusing but the clarity of the writing by the authors of A Complete History of World Cup Cricket guide the reader through the many permutations of the rule and format changes, which helps to provide real insight into the tactics of the teams. This was particularly pertinent when Australia attempted a ‘go slow’ against the West Indies in 1999, to try and exclude New Zealand from the finals, which they ultimately failed to achieve.

That Aussie ‘go slow’ is just one of the many controversies dealt with in A Complete History of World Cup Cricket. Others include Shane Warne’s ban as a drug cheat before the start of the 2003 WC, which also featured the black armband protest by a couple of Zimbabwe players. Not just controversies are recorded; all the awe inspiring feats are also covered. Imran’s inspiring captaincy in 1992, Sachin’s swansong in 2011, Australia’s ‘three-peat’ and Simon O’Donnell’s unbelievable effort to play on after being diagnosed with cancer. All these great moments are lovingly chronicled and are what makes the WC the greatest prize in cricket.

This book probably deserves 4.5 stars but I, perhaps harshly, deducted half a star because although a scorecard is included for every match, balls faced are not included.

This book could have been a dry, factual account on an admittedly important cricketing subject but thankfully Mark Browning and James Grapsas have not only provided a comprehensive history of every WC match, they have produced a book that is also an enjoyable read. So immerse yourself in the 2015 World Cup and read this commendable canon of cricket’s most prestigious trophy. I for one will be attending WC matches in 2015, as the cup returns to Australia for the first time in over 20 years and just for thoroughness A Complete History of World Cup Cricket also provides a preview.

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