Top 5 Controversies in ODI World Cup History

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Controversies in ODI World Cup history are not huge in terms of number, yet their impact was immense. The ODI World Cup 2023 is just on the horizon, and the fans are already on tenterhooks, for they know that some controversy or other might happen during the multi-nation tournament.

The ODI World Cup has been a hub for bitter fights and controversies. The pressure is always immense. This led to fights, unnatural deaths, riots, and whatnot!

What Are the Top Five Controversies in ODI World Cup History?

The tournament has been a trigger point for teams crying foul play, especially in the knockout stages like semi-finals and finals, where winning seems everything.

And there are multiple instances!

Time and again, these controversies have polarised the cricket world and the fans worldwide.

 Let’s take a look at top five controversies in ODI World Cup that created a ruckus among fans and fraternity:

Bizarre Rain Rule Robs South Africa off Historic Win (1992 ODI World Cup): 

The incident goes back to the 1992 semi-finals, where the rain was playing spoiler.

  • England had batted first and scored 252/6 in 45 overs. 
  • In reply, South Africa were struggling at 131/4 when Jonty Rhodes eased the situation with a 38-ball 43, bringing the equation down to 47 off 31.
  • Even then, the Proteas managed to score 25 from the next 18 balls, after which rain once again threatened a washout.
  • At this stage, South Africa needed 22 out of 13.
  • Nonetheless, when the match resumed again, South Africa needed 22 off 1, courtesy of a bizarre rain rule.
  • The Proteas were out of the match, and this bizarre instance paved the way for the new Duckworth-Lewis method.

Riots In Eden (1996 ODI World Cup):

Four years later, the iconic Eden Gardens saw the worst riots ever in the world of cricket. India were chasing a target of 252 in the World Cup semi-final.

  • The pitch had started to turn square, and the Indian batters failed to gauge the turn. The wickets started to tumble, with Sachin Tendulkar, who scored 65 off 88 balls, being the only exception.
  • But once he departed, the angry fans went berserk and started to throw stones and water bottles.
  • The match referee called off the game, and the stadium erupted in flames.
  • A distraught Vinod Kambli was seen crying as he was ushered off the pitch.
  • India had lost the match, and with it, their World Cup dreams were shattered.

Bob Woolmer’s Untimely Death (2007 ODI World Cup):

Meanwhile, off-field incidents have also kept the fans on tenterhooks. 

  • The Pakistan team, which was knocked out of the 2007 ODI World Cup in the first round, received the most shocking news when they heard that their coach, Bob Woolmer, had been found dead in a hotel room in Jamaica, just a few days after their loss to Ireland, knocking them out of the World Cup.
  • To this day, no one knows how he died, and as of writing this report, Jamaica Police had closed the case for lack of evidence.
  •  People still believe that it was a murder and not a death.

Australia vs Sri Lanka Farce Final (2007 ODI World Cup):

The inept umpiring in the World Cup final caused all the bad press.

Sri Lanka’s innings were interrupted, and Australia took full advantage of the break in momentum.

  • It all happened on April 2, 2007, in Barbados. Australia had batted first in the rain-truncated match, which was already reduced to 38 overs.
  • They had set a target of 282 for Sri Lanka, who maintained themselves in the chase, but rain interruptions ensured that the overs got reduced to 36.
  • With the light fading, the umpire called off the game, triggering celebrations among the Aussies.
  • Here, the umpire informed Ricky Ponting, then Australian captain, that the match wasn’t suspended and three overs would be bowled on the reserve day—the next day.
  • But a sudden change of mind followed, with Sri Lanka skipper Mahela Jayawardene and Ricky Ponting both agreeing there was no need to return tomorrow for the sake of just three overs. And the game resumed in utter darkness.
  • Sri Lanka, which needed 61 more, managed to score just nine runs, losing the match by 53 runs.
  • It was the most farcical final ever, and the umpire later said that the match should have been called off a lot earlier.

Overthrow Controversy in 2019 ODI World Cup Final:

England beat New Zealand in one of the most thrilling encounters in the history of world cricket.

  • England were chasing 242 for a win when a throw from Martin Guptill ricocheted off Ben Stokes’ bat and raced to a boundary.
  • At this point, umpire Kumar Dharmasena awarded England six runs. (two runs scored by the batters and four runs for the boundary)
  • This would be a bone of contention since the guardians of the game believed that England should have been awarded five and not six runs here.
  • Even the MCC rule states that the umpire must consider the runs only after the ball has left the fielder’s hand. At that particular instance, England had run just one and not two runs.
  • This one extra run played a huge role in England tying the game, which would go on to reach the super over, where England would beat New Zealand on boundary count.

Final Thoughts on Controversies in ODI World Cup:

These were some of the most controversial incidents in the history of the ODI World Cup.

Interestingly, these incidents were not only limited to on-field controversies but also off-field furors.

Like Bob Woolmer’s death would shock the world, which had nothing to do with the quality of cricket displayed by Pakistan.

We also had a farcical (one-of-a kind) match where Australia and Sri Lanka played a big match like the ODI World Cup final in the dead of night.

Furthermore, the bizarre rain rule proved to be the death knell for South Africa, but it paved the way for reforms that ultimately led to the Duckworth-Lewis method.

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FAQ about Controversies in ODI World Cup History

The 1996 semi-final at Eden Gardens saw riots, which resulted in India forfeiting the match. This was perhaps the biggest controversy in ODI World Cup history.

The fans were disappointed with India’s performance.

Australia won the final.