No. 26 July 10, 2010

The first World Cup

Four years after the birth of ODIs, the format was given validation by what was perhaps the boldest and most ambitious innovation since the legislation of overarm bowling

1975

There is no cricket like Test cricket, it is true; yet it was left to the packaged formulation of one-dayers to provide to the game its most anticipated event. The idea was first believed to be conceived by Ben Brocklehurst, chairman of the Cricketer, in 1969, and the MCC put together the first World Cup in 1975.

Tony Cozier wrote at the time that it was "perhaps the boldest and most ambitious innovation the game has known since the legislation of overarm bowling" - words he now considers hyperbole, but which nevertheless make a point. Limited-overs internationals were, after all, only 18 matches old, all of which had been played in bilateral series only.

The first Cup, held in England over two weeks between eight teams and eventually won by West Indies in a classic final against Australia, aroused vast interest. The profits, though small, were encouraging: essentially it was validation of the new paradigm, the one-day paradigm.

Even so, recalls historian David Frith, the tournament was by no means assured of perpetuation in the cricket calendar. That it did establish itself, with every Cup becoming much larger than the previous in virtually every respect, reflects the way the game itself has grown.

Rahul Bhattacharya is the author of the cricket tour book Pundits from Pakistan. This article was first published in Wisden Asia Cricket magazine in 2003

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