Floodlights, coloured clothing, field restrictions. World Series Cricket only lasted two seasons, but its impact was felt for generations. And once Kerry Packer's breakaway players came back into the official fold, the name went mainstream - the ODI triangular that Australia hosted every year was called the World Series Cup until the mid-90s. This week on What We're Watching, we look back at the World Series in all its avatars
First, some music
Packer's marketing mantra was to package cricket as entertainment. Like every TV show in the 1970s, World Series Cricket had an opening theme. In the second season, the promotional song, "C'mon Aussie C'mon", went on to top the Australian music charts. While this song accompanied broadcasts of subsequent WSC games and Test matches in coming years, the intro for Channel 9's cricket broadcasts, a tune originally known as "New Horizons", composed by Brian Bennett, went through several iterations.
If you're looking for the origins of World Series Cricket, go all the way back to December 2, 1977 when the revolution began with the first Supertest. Andy Roberts, Michael Holding and Wayne Daniel blew away the WSC Australians, and the West Indians won by three wickets inside three days. Here, meanwhile, you can watch some classic Barry Richards pulls and drives from the 1978-79 SuperTest final, a day-night game with coloured clothing and yellow balls.
The bad blood of the 1980s
Much of the world has watched Trevor Chappell rolling the ball underarm towards Brian McKechnie with New Zealand needing six to tie off the delivery, but check out the build-up and reactions. Greg Chappell shows him how to do it, Rod Marsh shakes his head in disbelief, McKechnie throws away his bat, and New Zealand captain Geoff Howarth confronts the umpires. Richie Benaud sums it up, calling it "one of the worst things" he has ever seen.
Dennis Lillee and Kim Hughes both played for Western Australia, but they never really got along. Here, the two of them get into an on-field disagreement during a WSC match against New Zealand. And as much as Lillee's bowling was about pace and swing and accuracy, it was also about theatre, which usually came to the fore when he bowled to Viv Richards: watch some of their confrontations here, including a little shoulder bump.
The decade ended as it began - with controversy. In an extraordinary presentation ceremony after a match with 50 wides on the scorecard, captains Imran Khan and Viv Richards both went after the umpires.
But there were great cricketing moments in those 1980s triangulars too. Rare batting feats such as Lance Cairns hitting six sixes against Australia, Allan Lamb winning a match for England when they needed 18 off the last over, and Viv Richards slamming an unbeaten 60 off 40 balls in the rain-shortened third final of the 1989-90 WSC.
Pakistan and West Indies played out one of the best games of the decade at the Gabba during the 1981-82 season, when the No. 11, Joel Garner, struck the winning runs in another rain-affected game. A couple of seasons later, Garner bowled a thrilling last over, this game ending in a tie after Jeff Dujon ran out the Australian non-striker off the last ball. And if the Australia-South Africa semi-final from the 1999 World Cup produced arguably the greatest finish in ODI history, how about this one, from the 1980-81 season, when Australia needed three off the last ball to beat New Zealand?
The edge-of-the-seat 1990s
From the sublime to the slapstick, there were so many different types of finishes in the World Series tournaments in the 1990s. The decade began with New Zealand's Chris Pringle keeping Bruce Reid on strike throughout the final over, defending two runs. He was lucky to get away with a leg-side delivery that could, and maybe should, have been called a wide, but Pringle forced several swings-and-misses before Reid was run out attempting a bye off the last ball.
India pulled off a tie against West Indies in a low-scoring game at the WACA in 1991, when Sachin Tendulkar picked up the final wicket with nine overs to spare. There was an even more improbable tie the following year, when Steve Waugh bowled a full toss with Pakistan needing seven to win off the last ball, with Asif Mujtaba on strike.
Then came the 1996 classic that became known as the "Michael Bevan Match" after he hit Roger Harper for an ice-cool straight four off the last ball to complete the first of his many chasing masterclasses.
In 1997-98 came another last-ball finish: Dion Nash on strike against Shaun Pollock with New Zealand needing three to win a high-scoring epic. What happened next? Well, watch it here.
And no account of triangular tournaments in Australia can be complete without the England-Sri Lanka game in Adelaide in January 1999. You'll remember Arjuna Ranatunga coming close to pulling his team out of the match after umpire Ross Emerson called Muttiah Muralitharan for chucking, but the match itself was a nail-biter, with Sri Lanka eventually winning by one wicket, thanks to a brilliant hundred from a young Mahela Jayawardene, who when he began the innings, had an ODI average of 15.21. During Sri Lanka's chase, the stump mic picked up Alec Stewart going after Ranatunga for his "behaviour" earlier in the game, but the commentators would have none of it. They backed the Sri Lanka captain fully, with Ian Chappell noting that he had "a touch of John McEnroe" about him.
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