Press reactions to the 1996 World Cup

If you can meet with triumph and disaster...

Kenyans will not stop at anything in the sporting arena. That we are record breakers and history makers was repeated on Thursday when our national team caused the greatest upset in World Cup history in beating fancied West Indies...the cricket side, because really doing this nation proud, has proved that determination alongside proper organisation can move mountains, contrary to the age-old excuses of lack of facilities and funds reminiscent of our other sporting organisations.

Leader, East African Standard, Nairobi, March 2

The World Cup encounters have brought West Indies cricket to a new low, nothing unusual for Mr [Richie] Richardson. ... Can he not hear those thousands, perhaps millions, of voices screaming in agony at his disastrous leadership and pleading for his removal?

Editorial, Barbados Advocate, March 2

"Asante sana, Kenya." In Swahili that means Thank you, Kenya. ... For the past three or four years we have watched with horror, frustration and disbelief as the structure and ethos of West Indian cricket have crumbled before our eyes. ... But it took a team of part-time cricketers from a country where the majority still remains blissfully unaware that there is any such thing as a cricket World Cup to lead us out of the encircling darkness. Now, assuredly, even the blind who have been leading us will be able to see their way clear. It is the door marked "Out".

Oliver Jackman, Sunday Sun, Barbados, March 3


England walked to the gallows [against New Zealand] like criminals rather than martyrs. There must be surer heads in inter-school cricket than this bunch of Englishmen.

Indian Express, February 15

END OF THE WORLD FOR PATHETIC ENGLAND

Headline, Sunday Mirror, March 10

HAPLESS, HOPELESS, HUMILIATED

Headline, Independent on Sunday, March 10

WE MUST GET RID OF LORD'S LOSERS

Headline, News of the World, March 10

The England team and the system which produces it is a heavy lorry in the slow lane being passed by a succession of sports cars.

Christopher Martin-Jenkins, Daily Telegraph, March 11

There appears to be no spirit of adventure left in English cricket, either on or off the field.

Derek Pringle, The Independent, March 11

Annihilation by that mighty cricketing nation Sri Lanka - one of the most predictable results of the World Cup - brought the usual demands for mass sackings, promises of fresh starts and threats of revolution. We have heard them all before - and seen English cricket plod on, blind to the rest of the world, still running and playing the game for the benefit of the pensioners who take their Thermos flasks and Marmite sandwiches to our barren county grounds.

Peter Johnson, Daily Mail, March 11


A WAVE OF GRIEF HAS SWEPT THE COUNTRY - WE HAVE LOST OUR GLOBAL HONOUR

Headline, Al Akhbar, Islamabad, March 10

Pakistan cricket fans smashed television sets and one committed suicide amid national gloom over Pakistan's defeat by arch-rivals India in the World Cup quarter-finals. ... College student Jaffer Khan fired a burst of Kalashnikov bullets into a television screen in the town of Mardan in the North-West Frontier Province. ... A front-page cartoon in the English-language Frontier Post showed freshly dug graves with a sign reading "a plot for each player" - a reference to incentives of land and cash offered by Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto's husband, Asif Ali Zardari, to Pakistan players if they retained the cup. ... Several papers said teenaged girls had called their offices in tears. ... The Urdu-language Nawa-E-Waqt quoted a Muslim religious cleric, Maulana Naqahbandi, as blaming the débâcle on what he called Pakistan's "obscene imitation of Indian culture". He also said Pakistan could not expect to win as long as it was governed by women. "Any nation which made a woman its ruler never prospered," said Naqahbandi, apparently ignoring England's quarter-final humiliation by Sri Lanka, whose President and Prime Minister are both women.

The Hindu, Madras, March 11

The shocking defeat of the Pakistani team dominated the proceedings of the Senate in Islamabad yesterday. Senators cited different factors behind the defeat including gambling, political affiliations and the wrath of the Almighty Allah because of obscenity spread through cultural shows at Pakistan Television.

The Muslim, Islamabad, March 11

Pakistan lost the quarter-final in Bangalore because on that particular day India played better than Pakistan. It is as simple as that.

Mir Jamil-ur-Rahman, The News, Lahore, March 16


The usually appreciative Eden Gardens crowd disgraced the country when it went on a rampage as India plunged towards defeat in the World Cup semi-final against Sri Lanka.

The Telegraph, Calcutta, March 14

It is impossible today to be Indian and not be ashamed.

Shekhar Gupta, Indian Express, March 14

India has succeeded in establishing the point that it deserves to be excommunicated from the world of cricket. Cricket is civilisation. India, let us have the grace to admit, has yet to attain that level of civility. We are a primitive tribe incapable of accepting the harshness of the world.

Ashok Mitra, The Telegraph, Calcutta, March 14


Nearly 50 years after the British Empire has faded into history, people in the subcontinent still say "It's not cricket", meaning something is not fair ... but in the past month, all across the region, cricket's inherited culture has come under challenge ... cricket, enveloped in distinctly un-English passions on and off the field, and in playing techniques that resemble baseball more than the traditional cricket game, has changed in ways that the stalwarts of yore would scarcely have recognised - so much so that old-timers might say that cricket itself is "not cricket any more".

John F. Burns, New York Times, March 16

Sri Lanka, who were given a horror time in Australia during the World Series games, proved that they are the rightful champions and that given neutral umpires they could beat any team in the world.

Elmo Rodrigopulle, Daily News, Colombo, March 18

The lions roared in Lahore
And put the kangaroo to flight
This was to be expected
As the latter was always in fright

The fright was evident down under
When the ball tampering story began
And then the false claim for chucking
Against Muttiah Muralitharan...

... There is a little moral
As I come to the end of my lay
The lion is bold and honourable
Unlike the off-shoots of Botany Bay.

Poem "The Lion Roars" by Premnath Moraes, Daily News, Colombo, March 18

Make no mistake, the best team won cricket's World Cup. Beyond question Sri Lanka were the most outstanding team of this tournament. It dared to be different; it dared to be itself.

Greg Baum, The Age, Melbourne, March 19


© John Wisden & Co