Cricket has witnessed tremendous transformations right from its in incision in 1844. Despite suffering setbacks from the two World Wars, the sport has progressed at a decent pace,especially in later half of the 20th century. Popularized by the English and the Australians, it spread wide and far across the globe. THE ASHES series between the two world-leaders still gathers most attention. Test cricket then paved way for ODI cricket which in turn set up the T20 format. Today, more than 100 registered countries play international cricket, while only 12 have been allocated a TEST status. ICC (Int. Cricket Council) initially found as Imperial Cricket Conference in 1909 by English, Australian and African representatives is now responsible for a smooth conduct. With time, the cricketing wave has fluctuated from one shore to the other.
England and Australia were largely regarded as global leaders till mid-20th century. West Indies, India, New Zealand, Sri Lanka, South (then East) Africa and Pakistan gradually cropped out their heads in the 1960s. For India, it took almost 2 decades to register their first win in 1952. While the subcontinental teams found it difficult to match the English and Aussie levels, the Windies cruised along producing probably world’s best swing bowling attack till date. The Aussie era that was largely initiated in 1940s post Bradman subsided to Clive Lloyd’s West Indies. They set a perfect example of how cricket can also be treated as a bowler’s game. Swinging yorkers, scary bouncers and unique batting strides are still a distinguished treasure in the cricketing records. Be it the tied Test match of 1961 against Australia, the supreme reigns at home or the world dominance in 1975-79 world cups, the team has blessed cricketing fraternity with bountiful memories. But, the purple patch was about to end. India’s famous 1983 World Cup final win saw the underdogs step up on a world stage. The reign however didn’t last long as Indians faded to an inspiring Australian side in 1987. Though Kapil Dev, Sunil Gavaskar, Graham Gooch,Sir Viv Richards gained a lot of accolades, the Australian team struck the right chords under the efficient Alan Border. Their dominance through the 1987 World Cup continued till the next one at home down under. Fate however awaited a different end. Playing in colored jerseys for the first time, an unexpected Pakistan stole all the flare and deserved its glory. Imran Khan along with Wasim Akram and Waqar Younis made the most of swinging conditions. Post the loss against India in group stages, the fightback from Pakistan gathered praise and admiration. The prowess of England and Australia that persisted throughout that period was hampered to a large extent in the World Cup.
This tale continued for almost the entire decade. India, South Africa and Sri Lanka raised the bar and often stumbled the balance of higher rated teams. This decade of underdogs also saw Sri Lanka lift the Champion title in 1996 before Australia pounced back on it in 1999. From the unfortunate South Africa who perished to rain in the 1992 semifinals to the frustrated Kolkata crowd that lead to a walkover to 1996 Sri Lanka, this decade of minnows witnessed world’s most productive cricketing juncture.
The dawn of 21st century was perhaps the most competitive of them all. All teams staged a well balanced and a settled squad mixed with an even of experience and skill. Not only that, but the associate nations also stepped up. Kenya, in what is supposed to be the surprise of the decade progressed to the World Cup semi-finals in 2003. An all around development engulfed cricket to the fullest. This was the time when Australia again came back into reigns to stay champions for as long as 12 years. Termed as “THE INVINCIBLES”, the Ricky Ponting led side successfully expanded its prowess to every corner of the world. The gutsy 22 tests unbeaten streak to go in hand with Ashes triumphs was one of the highlights of this period. Parallely when T20 cricket was included, the subcontinent nations and the West Indies had gradually gripped a strong hold.
The entire tale was destined to change when, India lifted the 2011 World Cup. Since then, owing to the retirement of a few legends cricket overall had to be reconstructed. And this time it was India, New Zealand and South Africa that transformed to the fullest. Though the later two still seek an ICC Title, their performance has been second to none. Despite Australia winning the 2015 World Cup, these 3 nations have been consistent right through the period. Bangladesh and Afghanistan add on to the list of impressions, as they have sported a spirited and fair existence in international cricket.
Cricket has moved rather quickly. Styles have changed, techniques have advanced, records have passed on and so has the cricketing baton. With ICC introducing Test Championship and ODI League from 2019, we are up for another cricketing joyride.