Top 10 World Cup controversies, shockers and moments of aberration

Cricket World Cups have not been short of talking points and controversies, with teams refusing to travel to Sri Lanka for a few matches of the 1996 World Cup one among the many that stand out.

In the 2011 World Cup final, Kumar Sangakkara called 'heads' but M. S. Dhoni didn't hear him and the coin had to be tossed a second time.   -  Getty Images

From crowd trouble forcing the umpires to call off the 1996 World Cup semifinal and award Sri Lanka the win to Shane Warne being banned for a year just a day prior to the 2003 World Cup, Cricket World Cups have had their share of controversies.

Here, Sportstar revisits 10 controversies from the previous editions of the tournament.

ICC Cricket World Cup 1992: The rain rule which washed away South Africa’s charge

South Africa staged a strong comeback to international cricket after the deconstruction of apartheid in 1991 in the World Cup.

Cruising to the semifinals, South Africa seemed well-equipped to make the finals as well but the rain gods had other ideas.

Against England, which had put up 245 for six on the scoreboard, the Proteas had managed to bring it down to 22 runs required off 13 balls.

After the showers had subsided and the players were back on the field, it initially showed that 22 runs were still required off seven balls. Moments later, it was clarified that 22 runs had to be chased down in just one delivery in accordance with a rule which involved the reduction of the least productive overs of the team batting first to adjust the chasing team’s target.

After Brian McMillan ran a single off the last ball, he walked off the field furiously as South Africa missed out on yet another World Cup.

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ICC Cricket World Cup 1996: Eden no more!

The 1996 semifinal between India and Sri Lanka at the Eden Gardens in Kolkata was marred by a vociferous crowd which couldn’t bear to see India bow out of the World Cup just before the final.

Chasing 252 for victory, India sailed on, reaching 98/1, after losing Navjot Singh Sidhu early, courtesy a fine knock from Master Blaster Sachin Tendulkar. But all hell broke loose when Sanath Jayasuriya removed him for 65.

The Indian batting order collapsed as it lost the next six wickets for just 22 runs. The crowd went violent when a thumping defeat seemed imminent and threw bottles onto the ground. Some even set fire to their seats. As all attempts to calm the crowd down went futile, even after the intervention of match referee Clive Lloyd, the match was awarded to Sri Lanka, who eventually went on to lift the title.

ICC Cricket World Cup 1996: Sri Lanka’s walkover

The 1996 World Cup, which was being jointly hosted by India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka, had four matches scheduled to be played in the island nation.

Australia and West Indies, however, refrained from travelling to Sri Lanka to play the scheduled matches citing safety concerns. The action was taken following a bombing in Colombo by a militant and political outfit called Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).

ICC Cricket World Cup 1999: Coach on the line!

Controversies somehow managed to surround late South Africa skipper Hansie Cronje. Although a bigger blow was to come in April 2000, Cronje already found his actions questioned on the field during the 1999 World Cup when he wore an earpiece on the ground in his side’s opening match against India.

India opener Sourav Ganguly, who spotted it, immediately asked the on-field umpires Steve Bucknor and David Shepherd to intervene. Cronje, who was taking instructions regarding strategies from coach Bob Woolmer from the dressing room, was later asked to remove the earpiece after the umpires consulted the match referee.

ICC Cricket World Cup 2003: Shane Warne’s ban

One day before the World Cup, Shane Warne found himself in the news, albeit for all the wrong reasons.

He was tested positive for a prescription drug called Moduretic. The banned substance was known to mask the presence of steroids.

Although, Warne denied the intake of such drugs initially, his Sample B tested positive as well. The legendary leg-spinner later said that he had never fully acquainted himself with the Australian Cricket Board’s anti-doping code.

Australia, however, was quick to recover from the blow and went on to lift the title that year. Warne, however, was banned for a year.

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ICC Cricket World Cup 2003: Zimbabwe's protest

Shane Warne isn't the only one who got himself in the muck during the 2003 World Cup. Then-Zimbabwe skipper Andy Flower and pacer Henry Olonga in a statement released to the media confirmed that they would be wearing black armbands to protest against Robert Mugabe's presidency.

What was then termed as the 'death of democracy' in Zimbabwe, the protest by Flower and Olonga received a lot of support by all and sundry. However, the backlash back in their own nation was so severe that they had to discontinue their cricketing dreams after the World Cup.


Bob Woolmer was found dead in his hotel room the day after Pakistan was eliminated from the 2007 World Cup by Ireland.   -  AFP


ICC Cricket World Cup 2007: Death in the family

Pakistan had a difficult time at West Indies during the 2007 World Cup. The whole side was rattled further by the death of coach Bob Woolmer under mysterious circumstances the day after the side's defeat at the hands of Ireland. Woolmer was found dead in his hotel room and initially a heart-attack was suspected. However, the Jamaican police launched a murder investigation after a pathologist's report alleged death by asphyxiation.

The investigation which brought almost of all the players and other officials under the scanner, finally was laid to rest after an official statement said that the death was natural.

ICC Cricket World Cup 2007: Stripped of vice-captaincy

Andrew Flintoff had to let go of the vice-captaincy after he was found to be involved in a drunken mishap, which saw him falling off a boat in Saint Lucia. He also had to face a one-match ban following the incident.

ICC Cricket World Cup 2007: The darkest finale

The 2007 World Cup was perhaps the one which saw the most controversial happenings. Even the day of the final wasn't spared.

The title-decider between Australia and Sri Lanka was played at the Kensington Oval which didn't have floodlights.

As the skies darkened making play impossible due to the lack of light, the umpires asked the players to go for the reserve day to be fair to both the sides. However, as the minimum number of overs which are required to employ the Duckworth-Lewis-Stern (DLS) rule were done.

The Australian players who had already started celebrating a third consecutive title were called in by the umpires for a consultation again. After a lengthy discussion between skippers Ricky Ponting and Mahela Jaywardene it was finally decided that spinners would be bowling the final three overs.

Australia did celebrate a second time that evening and all the match officials and umpires were suspended from officiating in the T20 World Cup in the same year for the error they had made on the big day!

ICC Cricket World Cup 2011: Dhoni makes it double

Not only did India win its second World Cup that day, but the toss also was done a second time.

When Sri Lanka captain Kumar Sangakkara called 'heads' the first time, Mahendra Singh Dhoni misheard him due to the noisy Wankhede ground. Assuming he won the toss, Dhoni had elected to bat.

However, Sangakkara intervened and both the captains decided to go for another toss which went Sri Lanka's way.

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