The World Cup starts this week and, as usual, the naysayers have been moaning about the presence of the associates in the competition. Michael Holding's comments have been well publicised and his Sky Sports colleague Mike Atherton said that the associates will be playing "rubbish cricket". Other less well known journalists have also been complaining.
They've no chance they say. They give them the slightly derogatory term of minnows. They'll get hammered when they come up against a Test nation. But will they? It certainly hasn't been the case in the past, and this article we will look at the previous World Cup matches where a "minnow" has turned the tables and become a shark, beating a Test playing nation.
Sri Lanka, then an associate member of the ICC, had qualified for the World Cup by reaching the final of the ICC Trophy, played right before the World Cup itself. India were playing poorly in the World Cup, and were comprehensively beaten in their first two matches against New Zealand and the West Indies, and were thus already out of the competition. Hoping to gain an easy consolation win against the qualifiers, they got nothing of the sort.
Batting first in the 60 over match, Sunil Wettimuny got Sri Lanka of to a great start with 67, sharing a near-100 2nd wicket-partnership with Roy Dias, who went on to score 50. Duleep Mendis made the second highest score of their innings with 64. Rain meant that the game was expanded into two days, and Sri Lanka finished their innings just before the close of play with 238/5 from their 60 overs.
Needing to score at four an over to win the match on the second day (after a rest-day), India got off to a decent start with a 60 run opening partnership, but that would prove to be the highest partnership of the innings. Only two Indian batsmen reached 30 as Tony Opatha and Somachandra de Silva took three wickets each to bowl the Indians out for 191, winning by 47 runs.
Sri Lanka gained Test status not long after this tournament, playing their maiden Test against England in 1982. 24 years later, they were to lose to an associate in the World Cup, but we'll get to that later.
India lost to Sri Lanka by 47 runs
Old Trafford, 16-18 June 1979
Sri Lanka: 238/5 (60 overs, S Wettimuny 67, D Mendis 64, R Dias 50, M Amarnath 3/40)
India: 191 (54.1 overs, D Vengsarkar 36, DS de Silva 3/29, ARM Opatha 3/31)
Zimbabwe had gained membership of the ICC in 1981, and played in the following years ICC Trophy, winning it without losing a game. This qualified them for the 1983 World Cup, and they were the only associate in this and the following two World Cups. Australia had won the Ashes in their home season, and were one of the favourites to lift the trophy.
The Zimbabwe team for what was their first ODI featured former South African Test player John Tracios, and current England coach Duncan Fletcher. Fletcher was to prove the key man in this match. A notable name in the squad missing out on this, and all matches in the World CUp, was a 17 year old batsman by the name of Graeme Hick, who had played in the warm-up games. Whatever happened to him?
In the match at Trent Bridge, Australia won the toss and chose to field, perhaps hoping that the feared fast bowling of Dennis Lillee and Jeff Thomson were going to give them an early finish to the match. Zimbabwe started well, putting on an opening partnership of 55, but both openers were removed by Lillee in quick succession. Zimbabwe lost four more wickets in their 60 overs, but Duncan Fletcher stayed in, scoring an unbeaten 69.
Australia needed to score at four an over. They started well, with an innings of 76 from Kepler Wessels, but once he was out, the innings almost ground to a halt, with Duncan Fletcher taking 4/42. Rodney Marsh tried his best to turn things the way of the Aussies with an unbeaten 50 from 42 balls, but it wasn't enough, and Australia could only manage 226/7, Zimbabwe winning by 13 runs.
Australia lost to Zimbabwe by 13 runs
Trent Bridge, 9 June 1983
Zimbabwe: 239/6 (60 overs, D Fletcher 69)
Australia: 226/7 (60 overs, K Wessels 76, R Marsh 50*, D Fletcher 4/42)
Zimbabwe lost their remaining matches in this World Cup and didn't win a game in 1987 either. They next won an ODI in …
This World Cup had an unusual format, with all nine teams placed in one group before the semi-finals. Zimbabwe were once again the only associate, and they went through their first seven matches without a win, before coming up against England, who were already sure of a spot in the semi-finals.
The match was played at the Lavington Sports Oval in Albury, New South Wales, and remains that ground's only ODI. England won the toss and elected to field. Things looked to be going England's way when they bowled out the Zimbabweans for just 134, Ian Botham and Richard Illingworth taking three wickets each. But Zimbabwe had other ideas.
England's reply got off to the worst possible start when captain Graham Gooch was removed by Eddo Brandes from the first ball of the innings. Brandes, who is famously best known as a chicken farmer (and for a hilarious sledging exchange with Glen McGrath that is far too explicit to repeat here) went on to take 4/21 to help dismiss England for 125.
England would go on to finish as runners-up in this World Cup, whilst Zimbabwe would gain Test status later in the year.
England lost to Zimbabwe by 9 runs
Lavington Sports Oval, Albury, NSW, 18 March 1992
Zimbabwe: 134 (46.1 overs, I Botham 3/23, R Illingworth 3/33)
England: 125 (49.1 overs, E Brandes 4/21)
This World Cup saw a major expansion of the format as three associates joined the nine Test playing nations. All of them made their World Cup debut; Kenya, UAE and the Netherlands. In a group match, Kenya came up against a fearsome looking West Indies team. Curtly Ambrose and Courtney Walsh were at their peak, and the batting line up featured Brian Lara and Richie Richardson.
When the West Indies won the toss and chose to field, many would have been expecting a quick game with the West Indian pace bowlers walking all over the inexperienced Kenyans. And that seemed to be happening when Courtney Walsh removed the top three batsmen with 45 runs on the board. The Kenyan middle order fought back a little, helped by some wayward West Indian bowling, giving away 37 runs in extras (the top score of the Kenyan innings) and Kenya reached 166, and were just 3 balls short of batting out their 50 overs.
It was a poor total, and one the West Indian batting line-up should have had no problem chasing down. But the Kenyan bowlers had other ideas. They produced one of the most economical sets of bowling figures in ODI history. Rajab Ali took 3/17 and captain Maurice Odumbe took 3/15 from his ten overs as Kenya pulled off a remarkable 73 run win. Only two West Indian batsmen reached double figures, one of whom was current Kenyan coach Roger Harper. He will be hoping that his charges can repeat this performance and pick up a win against England or New Zealand in the forthcoming World Cup.
Kenya beat West Indies by 73 runs
Nehru Stadium, Pune, India, 29 February 1996
Kenya: 166 (49.3 overs, R Harper 3/15, C Walsh 3/46)
West Indies: 93 (35.2 overs, M Odumbe 3/15, R Ali 3/17)
Bangladesh were playing in their first ever World Cup, and in the last first round match of the tournament, they come up against a Pakistan side, already sure of their spot in the newly introduced Super Six stage.
At Northampton, Pakistan won the toss and chose to field. Bangladesh made a reasonable total of 223/9 from their 50 overs, Saqlain Mushtaq taking 5/35, but it was a total that Pakistan should have had no problems chasing down. But they did have problems. Khaled Mahmud ripped through the Pakistan top order with three wickets, and although the middle order recovered slightly, Pakistan were bowled out for 161, Bangladesh winning by 62 runs.
Rumours of match fixing have occasionally come up when this game is discussed, but nothing has ever been proven, and it was not investigated by any of the match-fixing inquiries. On the back of this win, Bangladesh were given Test status the following year. It proved to be too soon for that, but they have improved in recent years, recording their first win over Australia in 2005.
Bangladesh beat Pakistan by 62 runs
County Ground, Northampton, 31 May 1999
Bangladesh 223/9 (50 overs, Akram Khan 42, Shahriar Hossain 39, Saqlain Mushtaq 5/35)
Pakistan 161 (44.3 overs, Khaled Mahmud 3/31)
The 2003 World Cup saw what to date is the greatest World Cup performance by an associate as Kenya reached the semi-finals. More on that in a future article, but there was another upset as Canada beat Bangladesh, by this time a Test nation.
Canada, playing in their first world cup since 1979, and playing in their first Day/Night match were underdogs in this match, even though it was against the weakest of the Test nations. Batting first, they were bowled out for 180, Ian Billcliffe top scoring with 42. The batting first under lights advantage came into play in this game, as the dreadlocked plumber Austin Codrington took 5/27 to bowl out Bangladesh for 120.
Canada would have a rollercoaster World Cup, highlighted by John Davison scoring the fastest ever World Cup century against the West Indies, and lowlighted by a then record low score of 36 against Sri Lanka, but this was their only win. Indeed, it would be November 2006 before they recorded their next ODI win.
Canada beat Bangladesh by 60 runs
Kingsmead, Durban, 11 Feb 2003
Canada 180 (49.1 overs, I Billcliff 42)
Bangladesh 120 (28 overs, A Codrington 5/27)