Melbourne, July 31: While the fixture announcement of the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015 has started the countdown to the 11th edition of ICC's flagship event, some of the captains who led their countries when Australia and New Zealand last staged the event in 1992 took a walk down memory lane and spoken candidly about their highs, lows and regrets from that tournament.
The event was won by Pakistan when Imran Khan's side defeated Graham Gooch's England in front of approximately 88,000 spectators at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG). In the semi-finals, Pakistan had defeated New Zealand while England had the better of first-timers South Africa.
ICC World Cup. Photo: ICC/Getty
The other sides to participate in the nine-team tournament that was staged on a single league basis with the top four sides progressing to the semi-finals were Australia, India, Sri Lanka, West Indies and Zimbabwe.
Imran, remembering the ICC Cricket World Cup 1992, said: "Winning the ICC Cricket World Cup 1992 was one of the biggest achievements of my cricketing career.
"We had a difficult start to the World Cup as we were without our biggest match-winners, Waqar Younis and Saeed Anwar. In addition to this Javed Miandad and I were injured, and carried these injuries throughout the tournament.
"Despite early setbacks, we knew we needed one good win in the ICC Cricket World Cup 1992 and we would be back in contention. The win over Australia (in Perth by 48 runs) provided us that momentum and then there was no looking back for us."
Pakistan lost three of its first five matches against West Indies (by 10 wickets), India (by 43 runs) and South Africa (by 20 runs) before it won five straight matches to lift the cup.
"We had a side which was confident and had self-belief, something we had been carrying for the last three years since our victory over the West Indies in the Nehru Cup final in Kolkata in 1989.
"I rate the moments after the World Cup victory as the most pleasing and satisfying of my career as I had never seen the people of Pakistan so happy."
Graham Gooch, reflecting on the ICC Cricket World Cup 1992, said that his side was the most consistent throughout the tournament before losing to the side that England should have put out much earlier from the competition.
"It was the last World Cup I played in and I captained the side. Looking back I'm proud of our performances throughout the competition, we were probably the form side during the tournament and played good cricket until the final when we didn't have our best day.
"We were beaten by Pakistan who played very well and certainly developed as a side throughout the competition. We had an opportunity to knock them out of the World Cup earlier in the tournament when we bowled them out for 74, but the match was rained off," Gooch said.
Remembering the final, Gooch said: "Wasim Akram was one of the stand-out players of the tournament and is probably up there in the top three bowlers I've ever played against.
"In the final when he removed Allan Lamb and Chris Lewis in consecutive balls it pretty much ended our title hopes. You need wicket takers in World Cups, bowlers who can change the game for you and he managed to do that time and again," recalled Gooch.
"Overall I've got good memories of 1992 but one of the biggest regrets of my career is that we reached three finals but didn't get over the line in any of them," added Gooch.
Martin Crowe, who skippered New Zealand and won the player of the tournament award, believed it was New Zealand's best chance of winning the World Cup, but a tactical decision cost his side the tournament.
"I think it was the best opportunity in our history to win the World Cup. We scored 262 on a slow pitch (against Pakistan in semi-final), which we thought was a winning score. However, it was decided that I should not take the field so that I could be fit for the final that was to be played four days later. In hindsight if I had stayed on the field, we could have defended that total.
"We had planned a successful campaign for over 18 months. Unity, innovation, surprise, and courage were the main priorities in planning. We set the goal of being the best defensive bowling and fielding team by mixing economy and attack. We got on a roll and with an ounce of luck could've won the World Cup the way we were playing.
"My injury killed it for us."
Talking about some of the teams and players that impressed him in that event, Crowe said: "There were some outstanding teams and players in that tournament. From our side, Mark Greatbatch, Dipak Patel and Gavin Larsen stood out, while Brian Lara shone for the West Indies, South Africa prospered on faster wickets and Graham Gooch had an experienced all-round side.
"But for me, the stand-out player was Wasim Akram. And then it was Imran Khan's captaincy and Javed Miandad's solid batting that held Pakistan together."
For Kepler Wessels, who led South Africa, the ICC Cricket World Cup 1992 was an "incredible experience", as the side played its first major tournament after its return from isolation.
"Captaining South Africa during the World Cup in 1992 was an incredible experience. It was an emotional time in South Africa cricket and the way the whole country embraced the team and the tournament will remain with me forever.
Recalling the event, Wessels said: "We had entered the event as complete underdogs, but surprised the cricketing world by reaching the semi-final through some gutsy and professional performances.
"The semi-final itself was a real heart-stopper and I still believe we had a chance of progressing to the final had rain not intervened. In fact, if the current Duckworth/Lewis Method existed then, then we would have got through."
For Wessels, it was an emotional return to Sydney after having earlier represented Australia at the same venue. And the icing on the cake was a telephone call from the President that followed South Africa's victory over Australia by nine wickets.
"The most satisfying win was the very first match against Australia in front of a capacity crowd in Sydney. I was apprehensive going into the match because the Aussies were on a real high. However, our victory was comprehensive. There were many emotional scenes after the match in Sydney and a call from President himself at the time completed a very satisfying day."
Allan Border, who led Australia as it defended its title, reflecting on the tournament said: "Overall I think that the ICC Cricket World Cup 1992 was a very successful event, very well received and supported in both Australia and New Zealand.
"Having won the ICC Cricket World Cup 1987 as outsiders, we found ourselves as one of the favoured sides in 1992, especially as it was being staged on home soil. We really struggled to find our best form in the early stages and played our best cricket far too late.
"No real excuses but in hindsight we didn't prepare as well as we could have. We basically went from a Test series against India straight in to the first game against New Zealand in Auckland and struggled to play the cricket we knew we were capable of. Mind you, New Zealand was quite brilliant with their tactics and thoroughly deserved their victory."
For Aravinda de Silva, who led Sri Lanka in ICC's marquee event 21 years ago, the highlights of the event were his side's victories over African nations Zimbabwe and South Africa. "We were still minnows in 1992 but two matches that stood out for us were against Zimbabwe and South Africa.
"We chased down a 313-run target to win by three wickets against Zimbabwe and then defeated South Africa by three wickets when we achieved a 196-run target on the penultimate delivery. It was not easy coming up against South Africa quick bowlers in conditions that suited their style of bowling," recalled de Silva.
Dave Houghton said Zimbabwe saw its best and worst in this tournament. "It was a fantastically organised tournament in which we, for the last time, played as a qualifier.
"We posted our highest total in the first match against Sri Lanka and lost in the final over, then got one of our lowest totals in the last game against England and won by nine runs," said Houghton who scored 165 runs in eight matches.
Houghton added: "It's the only event with a clear cut winner in the end. There is nowadays the ICC World Twenty20 and the ICC Champions Trophy, but in those days it was the only global event and you had to wait four years to get into it."
Houghton also voted Wasim Akram as the best player of the tournament. "The tournament was massive for Wasim Akram, particularly that over in the final against England (in which he dismissed Lamb and Lewis off success deliveries) and the young Inzamam-ul-Haq who would go on to be a great player for many years."