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How a radical idea became a World Cup

india Updated: Feb 18, 2007 18:56 IST
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The first recorded suggestion of a shorter version event was an eventually unsuccessful proposal for a two day (with regular double innings format) event when the Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) mooted something called the County Championship Cup to popularise the game among the masses. It was not at all a popular suggestion in arch-conservative 19th century England.


Following a recorded dwindling interest in the game in England, a suggestion to have a limited overs competition was made.


It finally materialised 7 years later (after being known as the Knockout Cup in its first year) as the Gillette Cup (named for the sponsors) and was essentially targetted at boosting the finances of the 17 counties involved. Before the Cup, a “trial event” was played in 1962 among 4 English counties in the Midlands. Gillette decided to invest only after that was a success.


Despite objections from the purists, public interest in this shortened format grew, and six years later came the John Player League, with matches played on Sundays and telecast live. A decade later, the Benson & Hedges Cup firmly established the popularity of one-day cricket. 1969-70 In the meantime, other countries began their own domestic one-day events, with Australia starting the Vehicle & General event in


Soon, New Zealand began the Motor Corporation Tournament. India’s first ODI tournament, the inter-zonal Deodhar Trophy, saw its first match on November 21, 1973, when South Zone took on East at Chepauk in what was then Madras.


But the big moment occured by chance. The first ever ODI between Australia and England (MCC) was on January 5, 1971, at the MCG, when the third Test was abandoned after three rainy days. A 40 over-a-side (8 ball over) match was held to compensate fans. A home crowd of 45,723 watched Australia win by 5 wickets.


The immense popularity of ODIs and the financial potential of a world clash took root in 1971 at a (then) International Cricket Conference meeting. This was formalised 2 years on and the first Cup, the Prudential World Cup, was born, a 60 over a side event that began on June 21 1975 in England. The world was never the same.

--Compiled by Manoj Kumar