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It seems like only yesterday...

Submitted by rickeyre on April 25, 2007 - 4:15am

This Cricket World Cup has been too short. Blink, and you find it's almost over...

It seems like only yesterday when the World Cup was officially opened by the British West Indies' finest cricketer to date, Lebrun Constantine, in a ceremony transmitted live via morse code to a worldwide audience of hundreds.

Lebrun read out a goodwill message by Dr W.G.Grace, despatched from his zeppelin-proof bunker in London, while his son Learie terrorised the spectators with a devastating display of beach cricket, smashing sixes from the sandpit behind the dressing sheds off the bowling of his new English friend, Little Harry Larwood.

Australia started the World Cup as favourites, with key players such as Trumper and Armstrong returning to the side having missed the debacle of the 1912 tri-series. India was so confident of victory that it sent three teams, Raj West, Raj East and Raj Central. The Ireland management were so worried about internal friction between Protestant and Catholic players that they stacked their side with New South Wales Second XI rejects.

The Indian triple each-way cup-winning solution collapsed when Raj East unexpectedly beat Raj Central, and Raj West succumbed to The Troubles. Raj East went from strength to strength, changing its name along the way to East Bengal, then East Pakistan and finally Bangladesh, and toppling the mighty USA (Union of South Africa) along the way.

As the rest of the Raj returned home, a rival communications empire was putting together plans for a domestic made-for-telegram tournament called the Pentangular Series, using the time-honoured concept of splitting players into teams on the basis of religion and race.

Rhodesia's World Cup campaign fell to pieces even before they split with Zambia and changed their name to Zimbabwe. The last straw came when they couldn't afford to buy their own tap water during the first drinks break of the match against the British West Indies, despite hiring accountants from the Weimar Republic to manage the team's budget.

Australia's domination was never in doubt, helped in no small part when the Imperial Cricket Conference Technical Committee approved the late inclusion of a young upstart called Li'l Donny Bradman.

The Don, as the match-fixing underworld came to call him, dominated the middle stages of the World Cup, scoring more than 50,000 runs before old age brought his tournament to a premature end. He played 200 matches for Australia in the Super 8 round alone, despite the World Cup pausing for six years to avoid a clash with a previously-scheduled world war.

But as the Super 8's began their Diamond Jubilee celebrations, it was sentimental favourites Ceylon who looked set to steal the show. Slinger Malinga had taken his unbroken streak to 6996 wickets in 6996 balls as the semi-finals beckoned. Remarkably, all of these dismissals had occurred since the team started calling itself Sri Lanka.