That cricket had finally emerged from its cocoon of conservatism was in stark evidence as the players pranced around at night in colourful outfits under the dazzling lights of Perth, Sydney and Melbourne. A sparkling globe of Waterford crystal costing $15,000, and mounted on a base embellished with nine medals displaying the coat of arms of the competing teams, replaced the traditional silver (or gold) cup. It was Pakistan’s turn to claim the coveted prize.
A shrewd marketing blitz was launched, and there was a slew of official sponsors including Tyrell's wine. Kookaburra supplied the white balls and the largest assortment of coloured pads ever to be on show. Put on sale was a special collection of coins priced at over 1.71 million Australian dollars ($1.13 million), in sterling silver and 18-carat gold, with the World Cup engraved on them. These were similar to the nine medals mounted on the base of the trophy. There were 5,000 such sterling silver and 19 gold World Cup coin sets issued for souvenir hunters. The silver sets cost Aus $365 each, while the gold ones were priced at Aus $4510.
The prize money increased to Aus $290,000 ($191,000). The winners received Aus $50,000, the runners-up Aus $25,000, and the losing semi-finalists Aus $12,500 each. This time there was a prize awarded to the man-of-the-tournament, called world champion, worth Aus $5,000 plus a Nissan 300 car. It was won by New Zealand skipper Martin Crowe. The guarantee money paid to the nine teams was Aus $200,000 each.
The South Africans were welcomed back into the fold. With Zimbabwe - who lifted the ICC Trophy yet again in 1990 - too gaining full membership, this was the only occasion when the World Cup was contested by the Test-playing countries only. All the nine teams played each other in a round-robin league. It was in many ways a tournament of upsets. None of the three past champions – West Indies, India and Australia - made it to the semi-finals. Instead it was New Zealand who had a dream run of seven consecutive wins, before they crashed in the last two matches, including the semi-final. South Africa too surprised by quickly finding their feet on their return to international cricket after 21 years. They too made it to the semi-finals.
There was, however, some controversy over the rule for re-calculation of the target in rain-interrupted matches, whereby the highest-scoring overs of the team batting first were taken into consideration. As a result, there were instances when the target scores were not reduced by much, even as the number of balls to be faced were curtailed by a large number. The South Africans were victims of this in their semi-final against England.
The two finalists were England and Pakistan. For England it was the third final. Pakistan made their maiden entry, and they lifted the trophy in this new-look tournament. The traditional game had at last bridged the schism with the modern world.
MCG, Melbourne, 25 March 1992
Pakistan won by 22 runs
Pakistan: 249 for 6 wickets in 50 overs (Imran Khan 72, Javed Miandad 58, Inzamam-ul-Haq 42, Wasim Akram 33, Derek Pringle 3 for 22)
England: 227 all out in 49.2 overs (Neil Fairbrother 62, Allan Lamb 31, Wasim Akram 3 for 49, Mushtaq Ahmed 3 for 41)
Man of the Match: Wasim Akram
Player of the Tournament (World Champion): Martin Crowe
(Author Indra Vikram Singh can be contacted on email email@example.com).
The Big Book of World Cup Cricket 1975-2011
Distributed in India by Variety Book Depot, Connaught Place, New Delhi, Phones + 91 11 23417175, 23412567
Available in leading bookshops, and online on several websites.