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Team tactics at different ICC Cricket World Cups

by Sahir Usman May 28, 2019 • 11:35 AM

May 28 (CRICKETNMORE) - Over the 44 years since the first World Cup that has never been more obvious than in the tactical evolutions that have taken place in the white-ball game.

Mike Brearley’s Art of Captaincy is the definitive treatise on the challenges of leading an international side and it was one of his contemporaries, Clive Lloyd, who led the West Indies to the first two World Cup titles, playing one of the great captain’s innings in the first final.

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Of course, at that time, teams were still coming to terms with the shorter format, and the West Indies’ success reflected their dominance across all formats.

However, it is more recently that we have seen a greater divide between red and white ball, and some of the most revolutionary tactics that have changed the way the game is played forever.


Perhaps no team is more synonymous with a single tactical innovation than Sri Lanka in 1996, when the small island nation shocked the world on the way to a maiden global title.

That is not to say that Sri Lanka did not have talent. Muttiah Muralitharan is the most prolific bowler in the history of international cricket, Aravinda de Silva one of the greatest batsmen of the 1990s.

However, it was skipper Arjuna Ranatunga’s decision to give Sanath Jayasuriya and wicket-keeper Romesh Kaluwitharana free rein at the top of the order that completely changed the game.

Making the most of the fielding restrictions in the first 15 overs, the duo was able to give Sri Lanka starts that no opponents could match.

Where most sides would be satisfied with scoring at four an over, the Sri Lankans regularly went at more than a run a ball to set up totals few could challenge.

The advent of Twenty20 cricket may be the single biggest change the sport has undergone in the last three decades but Sri Lanka’s pinch-hitting openers set the template which all teams now follow.

Over the course of the first four 50-over World Cups (1987-1999), teams managed to top 300 runs against a fellow Test nation on just two occasions.

The four since have thrown up 39 such instances, an indication of just how much the game has changed in approach to batting.

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