The 2015 Cricket World Cup is over—but where do the new champions, Australia, rank on the all-time list of winners?
Comparing teams from different eras is never easy (so thanks to the editor who handed me this task). It must be remembered while reading that this is all a matter of opinion.
Australia has lifted the trophy five times since 1975, with India and West Indies triumphing twice and Sri Lanka and Pakistan registering one win apiece.
The talent level of each team has been taken into account, obviously.
However, so has the manner in which each side triumphed (for example, Australia in 1999 was full of great players, but they also needed a lot of luck to go their way, too).
Have your say on the power rankings—and who would top your list—by using the comments section.
It seemed West Indies would clinch a World Cup hat-trick when they bowled India out for 183 in the 1983 final at Lord’s.
However, the underdogs would bite back with the ball in the second innings.
While West Indies had hit their opponents with pace, India caused an upset by using a lack of it to their advantage.
The very medium-paced duo of Mohinder Amarnath and Madan Lal each picked up three wickets as the reigning champions were bowled out for 140.
The key wicket was that of Sir Viv Richards, with India skipper Kapil Dev taking an excellent running catch to dismiss the right-hander for 33.
It was all-rounder Dev who lifted the trophy on the Lord’s balcony; India had beaten England and then West Indies against the odds to take home the spoils.
As Rajdeep Sardesai recalled in his piece for ESPN Cricinfo about the 1983 final, success led to a increased spotlight—and income—for cricket in India.
In the first World Cup not to be staged in England, and with the matches now down to 100 overs in length, Australia came out on top for the first time.
India and Pakistan were co-hosts for the tournament, though neither home nation managed to make it beyond the semi-final stage.
Australia and England went head-to-head at a packed Eden Gardens, Kolkata, with the locals having expected India to have made it through to the final.
One shot during the match will always be remembered—Mike Gatting’s reverse-sweep against Allan Border.
With England seemingly on course to overhaul Australia’s total of 253 for five, Gatting opted to take a chance against Border’s gentle left-arm off-spin.
The risk proved costly, as he was caught at short third man for 41. The chase never got back on track after the wicket, with England failing to make 17 from the final over.
Australia’s triumph was built on the impressive 18 wickets picked up by pace bowler Craig McDermott, as well as the runs scored by David Boon and Geoff Marsh.
It will, though, always be known as the final England threw away.
The opening World Cup was a far cry from the tournament we are used to these days.
Only eight nations took part in the inaugural event in 1975 in England, while the games were 120 overs in length and with a red ball.
The most remarkable innings during the 15 fixtures came from India’s Sunil Gavaskar, as he contrived to make 36 not out from 174 balls in the opener against England.
West Indies were the favourites for the cup, and they duly came up trumps in the final, defeating Australia at Lord’s by 17 runs.
Captain Sir Clive Lloyd lifted the trophy having earlier hit 102 from just 85 deliveries in West Indies’ innings of 291 for six.
A young Sir Viv Richards made sure Australia fell short in reply, implementing three run outs.
Andy Roberts was also in the squad, though Bernard Julien and Keith Boyce were West Indies’ leading wicket-takers with 10 apiece.
It was a squad that had an excellent blend of youth and experience, and not too many of the older brigade were still around four years later.
8. Sri Lanka (1996)
Sri Lanka, hosting the event along with India and Pakistan, were a side who stuck to the plan to triumph in 1996.
They finished top of Group A after Australia and West Indies refused to travel to Sri Lanka for fixtures, though they did triumph over India in Delhi.
It would not be the last time they would upset the neighbours in their own back yard, either.
After demolishing England in the quarter-finals, Sri Lanka were on course to defeat India at Eden Gardens, Kolkata, when home fans began to throw bottles onto the field.
The game was unable to be finished, with Sri Lanka awarded the win to progress to the final.
Australia made 241 for seven in Lahore, Pakistan, but Aravinda de Silva hit a century to make sure his captain, Arjuna Ranatunga, got to lift the trophy.
De Silva was outstanding throughout the event, but Sri Lanka also benefited from using Sanath Jayasuriya and Romesh Kaluwitharana as an aggressive opening partnership.
Ranatunga was a steadying hand in the middle order, while the bowling attack centred around the mystery spin of Muttiah Muralitharan.
It was a team where everyone knew their role and played the conditions perfectly.
Australia’s triumph in 1999 showed that even the best teams need a little luck.
Steve Waugh’s side were fortunate to beat South Africa not once, but twice in the tournament, allowing them to go on and demolish Pakistan in a one-sided final.
After a slow start, Australia went into their final game in the Super Six stage knowing only a win would do.
Herschelle Gibbs’ hundred put the Proteas in a strong position, but the batsman blotted his copybook when he dropped Steve Waugh at mid-wicket when he had 56 to his name.
Australia’s skipper went on to make 120 not out in a five-wicket win, setting up a rematch in the semi-finals.
Chasing 214, Lance Klusener belted South Africa to the brink of success, only for a mix-up with Allan Donald to result in that run out.
With the match ending in a tie at Edgbaston, England, Australia went through to the final at Lord’s after finishing above their opponents in the Super Six table.
While they had several moments of good fortune, it should not be forgotten just how much talent was in that squad.
Mark Waugh and Adam Gilchrist were one of the best opening pairings in world cricket, while Shane Warne finished as leading wicket-taker with team-mate Glenn McGrath not far behind.
Add in the finishing skills of Michael Bevan and it’s not hard to see why they came out on top.
Pakistan’s success in 1992, when coloured clothing and white balls became the norm, was miraculous.
Imran Khan’s side triumphed in just one of their opening five matches in a round-robin stage that saw all nine teams play against each other.
They looked to be heading for another defeat when they were bowled out for just 74 by England, only for the Adelaide rain to spare them.
That no result ended up being crucial in the final reckoning—Pakistan ended up finishing fourth in the group to progress to the next round, just one point ahead of hosts Australia.
They made the most of the lucky break, going on to beat New Zealand in a thrilling semi-final in Auckland thanks to the efforts of a young Inzamam-ul-Haq.
Skipper Imran made 72 in the final against England, but the key to their success at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, Australia, was their bowling resources.
Under the floodlights, Wasim Akram got the ball to swing around. He dismissed Sir Ian Botham early on, then returned in the 35th over to remove Allan Lamb and Chris Lewis with successive deliveries.
Leg-spinner Mushtaq Ahmed also picked up three wickets, with Imran himself taking the last one to clinch victory.
His cornered tigers (as he had dubbed them during the competition) had roared when it mattered. Their attack would be a handful for any of the teams in this list.