Winners: India

Benson and Hedges World Championship of cricket, 1984-85

J.W.

To mark the 150th anniversary of the founding of the state of Victoria, the Victorian Cricket Association promoted what they called a World Championship of Cricket. The seven Test-playing countries entered representative sides, England and India arriving straight from their meeting in India, New Zealand and Pakistan from theirs in New Zealand, and Sri Lanka and West Indies already being in Australia. At a cost of over £3 million, lights were installed on the Melbourne Cricket Ground: to see them switched on for the first time, during the opening match between England and Australia, there was a crowd of 82,494. Of the thirteen matches, nine were in Melbourne and four in Sydney.

The tournament was won by India, who played excellent cricket throughout, winning all their five matches comfortably. This was in sharp contrast to their poor showing against England in their recent one-day series in India. Gavaskar, who led them astutely, attributed his side's remarkable improvement to their being removed from the keen, at times impatient expectations of the Indian public. Gavaskar stood by his previously declared intention to give up the captaincy of India at the end of the tournament.

Shastri and Srikkanth made an outstanding pair of opening batsman for India, whose bowling was accurate and well-balanced and fielding reliable. As India were the current holders of the World Cup, which they had won in England in 1983, their victory completed a notable double. They were well suited by the Melbourne and Sydney pitches, which were both slow and took turn, and also by the slow outfields, which called for no great turn of foot. Azharuddin and Sivaramakrishnan, their young newcomers, also created a fine impression, Siva's leg-breaks providing a welcome change at the end of an Australian season that had been monopolised by the West Indian fast bowlers.

Though losing twice to India, Pakistan had the satisfaction of beating West Indies in the second of the semi-finals. This was Clive Lloyd's last match as captain of West Indies. Although the tournament was inevitably denuded by England's failure to make an impact and Australia's early elimination, the VCA had the satisfaction of knowing that, but for their efforts and the sponsorship which these attracted, they would have had a longer wait for a set of lights to match Sydney's. By the time of the final, the programme of one-day international matches in Australia had lasted, with scarcely a lull, for no less than ten weeks. This was another factor in keeping down the overall attendance for the tournament to 245,302, which was some way below the anticipated figure.

Match reports for

1st Match: Australia v England at Melbourne, Feb 17, 1985
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2nd Match: New Zealand v West Indies at Sydney, Feb 19-21, 1985
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3rd Match: India v Pakistan at Melbourne, Feb 20, 1985
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4th Match: New Zealand v Sri Lanka at Melbourne, Feb 23, 1985
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5th Match: Australia v Pakistan at Melbourne, Feb 24, 1985
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6th Match: England v India at Sydney, Feb 26, 1985
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7th Match: Sri Lanka v West Indies at Melbourne, Feb 27, 1985
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8th Match: England v Pakistan at Melbourne, Mar 2, 1985
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9th Match: Australia v India at Melbourne, Mar 3, 1985
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1st SF: India v New Zealand at Sydney, Mar 5, 1985
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2nd SF: Pakistan v West Indies at Melbourne, Mar 6, 1985
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Cons: New Zealand v West Indies at Sydney, Mar 9, 1985
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Final: India v Pakistan at Melbourne, Mar 10, 1985
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© John Wisden & Co