The 1992 World Cup in Australia and New Zealand was remarkable for the number of innovations that were introduced in the game. While the organisers brought in coloured clothing, floodlights, white balls (one from each end) and black sight screens, the team think-tanks came up with brilliant strategies to take the game by storm.New Zealand skipper Martin Crowe led the experiments by sending in left-handed opener Mark Greatbatch as a pinch-hitter and giving the new ball to spinner Dipak Patel. As the World Cup travels back to Australia and New Zealand, former India coach and 1992 New Zealand World Cup team member, John Wright, tells Hindustan Times how the tournament caught the imagination of the cricketing world. Excerpts from a freewheeling conversation:
The World Cup is back in your country. People still talk about the experiments with Mark Greatbatch and Dipak Patel, how did it happen?
We beat Australia in the first match. We played very attacking cricket. Martin Crowe played magnificent cricket. I got my shoulder injured in the second match and had to sit out. Then Mark was included and he was sent out to open the batting. He was not part of the squad and also not an opener. He was just told to go and play aggressively. That strategy worked for us. Mark played with authority. Our batting combination was excellent.
So, the two openers, Greatbatch and Patel were the big difference in that World Cup?
I think so. Mark’s contribution was amazing. Sri Lanka had also started aggressively in their first match. But Mark made the difference. In most of matches, the first 15 overs were in his control and he set it up for the team. Now it is a trend.
Dipak was economical with new ball and got us early wickets. That was an exciting time.
What was the biggest motivation for New Zealand in that World Cup?
It was an advantage to play at home. That always helps and India proved it in 2011. It was the pleasure of playing in front of your own people. Everyone enjoyed that World Cup. I am hoping for another exciting experience this time also.
What did 1992 World Cup mean to New Zealand?
From New Zealand’s point of view everyone was very excited about it. You got to see so much quality cricket. Any World Cup at home makes you proud and excited no matter if you are winning or losing. This time also there is a similar atmosphere. We are looking forward to it.
What will be the key for a team to do well this time?
In any tournament, if you get some early wins, you get on a roll and you get a momentum. You can see any country which won the World Cup, began well.
Do you think India can defend their World Cup title this time ?
I think India will have a very good preparation going into the tournament. India are playing against Australia and England before that. Both these teams have played good cricket in World Cups.
But it will be interesting to see who comes out on top. India are there since long and playing in tough conditions. That would be helpful.