The Cricket World Cup has provided us with some wonderful memories.
Hosted all over the world, it has provided us with a taste of different conditions, pitting the world’s best against each other from the sapping humidity of Kolkata to drizzly days in London and scorching Melbourne temperatures.
Every four years, we are treated to a festival of white-ball cricket. The format has altered, the regulations have changed drastically, but one thing stays the same: only one team goes home celebrating.
Cricket World Cup finals have produced drama, and a fair few iconic performances over the last 44 years. Here are some of the greatest individual performances in World Cup final history…
Derek Pringle (1992)
It seems a little odd to start with a performance in a losing effort, but Derek Pringle’s 3/22 in Melbourne in 1992 is deserving of a place on this list. The 6’4” right-armer only played in 44 One-Day Internationals for England, and his numbers are hardly impressive.
A batting average of 23.61 and a bowling average just over 38 sum up a less than stellar ODI career, but in 1992 he bowled a spell that threw Pakistan onto the back foot in the World Cup final.
Aamer Sohail and Ramiz Raja were removed early on by Pringle, leaving Pakistan teetering at 24/2. He later dismissed Inzamam-ul-Haq, finishing just 22 runs off his 10 overs.
It wasn’t enough, however, as England’s batting crumbled against Wasim Akram and Mushtaq Ahmed.
Aravinda De Silva (1996)
Sri Lanka’s win against Australia in 1996 is the most famous Cricket World Cup final of all and the magnificent Aravinda de Silva was the star of the show.
Bowling his right-arm offies, de Silva played a crucial role with the ball, dismissing a well-set Mark Taylor, bowling Ricky Ponting just before he reached 50 and getting Ian Healy as Australia tried to accelerate.
Add to that the catches to get out Steve Waugh and Stuart Law, and de Silva was having a special day even before he came to the wicket in Sri Lanka’s chase.
As Sri Lanka stuttered after losing two early wickets, de Silva played perhaps the greatest innings in World Cup final history, scoring 107 off 124 balls. He dealt with Shane Warne beautifully as he guided Sri Lanka to the most improbable of World Cup victories.
Shane Warne (1999)
Australia faced Pakistan at Lord’s in the 1999 World Cup final. Paired with one of the best bowlers in Cricket World Cup history in Glenn McGrath, Australia demolished their opponents, cruising to an eight-wicket victory as they won the first of a three World Cups in a row.
McGrath and Damien Fleming set the table for Warne to work his magic, dismissing the openers and keeping Pakistan’s scoring rate in check.
Warne was introduced with the score at 69/3. Pakistan were rebuilding after a shaky start and were still in with a chance of putting up a competitive total.
It took just 10 balls for Warne to strike, removing set batsman Ijaz Ahmed. He dismissed Moin Khan soon after and then got the destructive Shahid Afridi to put Pakistan seven down.
A sturdy partnership from all-rounders Wasim Akram and Azhar Mahmood followed. Warne eventually dismissed Akram, and Pakistan were bowled out for 132.
It was vintage Warne, and a standout World Cup moment from one of the sport’s all-time greats.
Ricky Ponting (2003)
In the second of Australia’s three consecutive World Cup wins, Ricky Ponting was the star of the show as the Aussies set India a mammoth 360 to win at The Wanderers in 2003.
Facing a bowling attack led by Zaheer Khan and Harbhajan Singh, Ponting came to the crease with Australia pretty at 105-1. What followed was a special knock from one of the game’s greatest ever players.
A majestic 140 not out, Ponting was relatively watchful on his way to 50 before accelerating rapidly. He finished the innings with a strike rate over 115 after crushing eight sixes off an India attack that was battered to all parts of the ground.
Damien Martyn played a gorgeous knock alongside Ponting too, as Australia finished on 359/2. India, thanks to Ponting’s mammoth innings, were forced to take risks from the off. It didn’t work out – they were bowled out for 234.
Mitchell Johnson (2015)
Jumping forward to the most recent World Cup final, when yep, you guessed it, Australia were victorious once again. Betting sites favoured the Aussies as they matched up with their rival New Zealanders, but few expected the seven-wicket drubbing that followed.
Started off by tight bowling from Mitchell Starc – who dismissed Brendon McCullum early on – and Josh Hazlewood, Johnson consolidated Australia’s advantage.
Johnson got the prized wicket of Kane Williamson caught and bowled, and despite a knack to be wild, kept things tight.
After a rebuild between Ross Taylor and Grant Elliott, Johnson ended any hopes of New Zealand posting a competitive score by dismissing Daniel Vettori and Matt Henry as the Kiwis were bowled out for 183.
An Australian Ashes hero, Johnson’s retirement makes it much more likely that England will win the 2019 Ashes.