The game of cricket was, it’s fair to say, pretty slow on the uptake when it came to organising a World Cup. There aren’t many team sports – rugby the glaring exception – which hadn’t already staged a global jamboree by 1971, when the first-ever ODI took place. An ad hoc affair arranged in haste to entertain the Melbourne crowd after three days of the Ashes Test had been washed out it might have been, but it was undeniably the start of something big.
With that one-day genie out of the bottle, administrators could start to see how you could get all the key teams together (although, let’s remember, there were only six Test-playing nations for the entirety of the 1970s) and have a meaningful competition over an acceptably short time period.
In 1973, the women got in there first, with England coming out on top at their own party (in stark contrast to the men, they have won the World Cup on every one of the three occasions this country has hosted it). And then, in 1975, it started – the first of 11 tournaments to date (and 44 years of hurt for England), most of which are featured in this special celebratory issue of the Nightwatchman.
We’ve commissioned writers from all round the world to focus on the things that have caught their eye over the four-and-a-half decades of World Cup cricket, whether that be personal experience, exploring long-ago myths and legends, or analysing one element or another of the competition.
Rob Steen, Nicholas Brookes and Harry Pearson go all the way back to the first World Cup, with the latter telling the story of how two Sri Lankans were hospitalised by Jeff Thomson. Then from Africa, we have Luke Alfred on the 1983 Zimbabweans’ unusual fundraising tactics and Telford Vice broaching the subject of choking, while we have two appraisals of the 1983 final, from David Frith and Simon Barnes. Elsewhere World Cup finalist Derek Pringle tells us what 1992 was really like, Mike Selvey is awestruck at the advances in fielding, Andy Zaltzman comes up with more stats than you thought possible, and both Adam Collins and Jonathan Liew look at various World Cup formats. And, as ever, there’s plenty more besides.
And meanwhile, if you too would like to write for us or just let us know what you think about The Nightwatchman, good or bad, please get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org. We read every submission (but promise nothing) that fulfils our criteria: that articles should touch on cricket (however tangentially) and are original, well written and thought-provoking.
Matt Thacker, June 2019
Issue 26 of The Nightwatchman is out now and available to buy here.