When I was a young lad, my dear maternal grandfather used to take me to watch my heroes play at the SCG.
Australia’s start their 12th Cricket World Cup campaign on Saturday against Afghanistan. Four of the previous eleven tournaments have been played in England.
It has been 20 years since the Cricket World Cup took place in England. I have looked back over previous tournaments to see how Australia has fared.
The findings may, or may not, bring some insight as to how the Australians will perform.
Either way, it will be a walk down memory lane to whet the appetite for six weeks of late-night cricket on television for Australian fans.
Australia opens its 2019 campaign against Afghanistan at Bristol.
The County Ground is a new venue for Australia in the Cricket World Cup. Opponents Afghanistan will already have fond memories of the ground due to their victory over Pakistan in a warmup game.
What the Afghans won’t have fond memories of is the only CWC match between the sides, at the WACA in 2015, when Australia won by a massive 275 runs.
This win is Australia’s largest margin of victory, and it eclipsed the 256-run win against Namibia in 2003.
The match also saw the highest individual score, Dave Warner’s 178 from 133 balls, and the highest partnership with Warner and Steve Smith adding 260 for the second wicket.
Looking at previous match-ups against the West Indies, Australia has beaten the West Indies once in CWCs in England.
Most of the games date back to times when the West Indies dominated ODIs. The solitary win came in 1999 when Glenn McGrath’s 5-14 and Shane Warne’s 3-11 from his ten overs skittled the West Indies for 110.
Needing to win the game well to qualify for the Super Six stage, Australia blitzed the match before going on to win the tournament.
The West Indies match, as well as the Bangladesh fixture, is held at Trent Bridge. Older fans will recall that 9th June 1983 was the day that an Australian team boasting Dennis Lillee, Jeff Thomson, Allan Border, David Hookes and Kepler Wessels to name a few were humbled by Zimbabwe.
Still an associate team at that point, Zimbabwe were led by Duncan Fletcher’s 69 not and 4-42 to a massive upset victory by 13 runs.
The game against India at The Oval is a repeat of the fixture in 1999.
Having lost the toss, Australia were asked to bat in the first game of the Super Six stage. Mark Waugh’s 83 inspired a challenging total of 282/6 which India failed to chase.
Despite Ajay Jadeja’s unbeaten century, India could only muster 205 in reply. If history is anything to go by in this fixture, the team batting first wins. For the record, Australia leads the series 2-1.
The Oval is also staging the match against Sri Lanka where the teams met in the first Cricket World Cup. Sri Lanka was an associate team at this point and Australia, unsurprisingly, ran out winners by 52 runs.
Sri Lanka gamely chased Australia’s formidable total of 328/5. Ian Chappell took two wickets while spinner Ashley Mallett was taken for 72 from his 12 overs.
For clashes with England as the host nation, there are just two matches to look at. The latest one was 1979 when England comfortably won, at Lord’s where the two teams meet on June 25th, by four wickets.
The first encounter took place in 1979 when a place in the final was up for grabs. The match was played at Headingley where England was routed for 93 by Gary Gilmour. Gilmour’s 6-14 remains the best bowling by an Australian in a Cricket World Cup in England.
Having slipped to 37/7, it could have been much worse for England. Australia did not have it all their way though. Chris Old and John Snow reduced the reply to 39/6 before Gilmour’s run a ball 28 not out saw his team to victory while leaving no doubt who was man-of-the-match.
There has been just one Trans-Tasman CWC clash in England with the Blackcaps winning by five wickets. The match saw Australia, having beaten Scotland in their first game, have New Zealand in trouble at 49/4 chasing 213/8.
In the Australian innings, it was Geoff Allott, who finished 1999 with the most wickets, took four while Gavin Larsen rolled back the years with a ‘dibbly-dobbly’ miserly masterclass.
With the game very much against New Zealand, Roger Twose and Chris Cairns added 148 runs to swing the game around.
To finish off, who else but South Africa? Arguably the finest game in any Cricket World Cup, the semi-final tie between the two sides is unforgettable.
In the Super Six stage, Australia had beaten South Africa by five wickets. The semi-final proved to be a far closer affair.
Ebbing and flowing, it was impossible to guess which way it would end. At the denouement, it looked as if Lance Klusener had done enough to win the game for his team.
However, panic set in with just one run needed with three balls left and an unnecessary run out ended South Africa’s innings and their chance to reach the final.
The tie meant that net run rate would decide the finalist. For Australia, they would win the final comfortably. For South Africa, the choker tag was well and truly earned.
New memories will be made in the 2019 Cricket World Cup by Australia. Looking at current scores, it would not be out of the ordinary to consider that some run based records could fall.
In the twenty years since the Cricket World Cup was last in England, many aspects of the game have changed.
As much as it’s fascinating to look back over previous tournaments, it’s unlikely that it will have too much bearing on how 2019’s iteration will run its course.
The only question to ask is whether Australia can defend their title and collect a sixth Cricket World Cup.