Down Memory Lane: Cricket World Cup Controversial Moments

Cricket is often called the Gentleman’s game, but like any other sport, cricket has seen its fair share of controversy. With the 2019 ICC World Cup well on its way, let’s take a stroll down memory lane and recall some rather strange moments in the history of the biggest competition in cricket

Australia and West Indies Forfeit Games (1996 World Cup)
Sri Lanka was co-hosting the 1996 World with neighbours India and Pakistan. On 31st January 1996, the Central Bank in Colombo was bombed by the LTTE. It was among the most devastating terrorist attacks in the country’s history, killing 91 and injuring a whopping 1400. Despite the Sri Lankan government insistence of being given maximum security and the ICC determining it to be safe to travel to the island nation, Australia and West Indies refused to send their teams. After much deliberation, the ICC decided to reward Sri Lanka points for both games, which were to be played against the aforementioned sides. Consequently, the Asian team qualified for quarter-finals and went on the beat the Aussies in the final.

Aussie Spinner Slapped with Ban (2003 World Cup)
Legendary Australian bowler Shane Warne was handed a 12-month ban just a day before the commencement of the 2003 ICC World Cup for testing positive for a prescription drug called Moduretic, which could be used as a masking agent for steroids. Warne had previously dished out a Man-of-the-Match performance in the 1999 ICC World Cup final against Pakistan, and was an integral member of the Australian line-up that was looking to retain their title. The then 33-year-old denied using the banned substance, and flew back home to undergo further tests. The Sample B that he provided also tested positive for the banned substance, thus cutting short his dream of playing in the tournament held in South Africa. Despite his absence, Australia went on to win the competition.

Mysterious Death of Pakistan Coach (2007 World Cup)
On 18 March 2007, just a day after Pakistan’s elimination from the 2007 ICC World Cup at the hands of Ireland, coach Bob Woolmer was found dead on the 12th floor of the Pegasus Hotel. The 58-year-old’s death was surrounded by mystery and the Jamaican Police launched a murder investigation based on a report by the pathologist indicating that Woolmer died from asphyxiation due to manual strangulation. The players and the supporting staff were severely questioned, and a few conspiracy theories even emerged. Later, an official statement was released stating the cause of death was natural.

DRS Saves Bell (2011 World Cup)
Hosts India took on England at M Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bengaluru in what turned out to be an edge-of-the-seat thriller. Master Blaster Sachin Tendulkar’s 120 powered the Men in Blue to a massive 338. England got off to a strong start before controversy struck. Yuvraj Singh trapped Ian Bell in front but umpire Billy Bowden deemed Bell not-out. India reviewed the decision. The DRS review showed the ball was in line and hitting the stumps. Seeing this on the big screen, Bell walked off but was stopped by fourth umpire Aleem Dar, perplexing the Indians. The Englishman returned to the crease. The umpires explained that Bell was more than 2.5 metres down the track when the ball made impact. With that amount of distance, Hawkeye was considered less accurate. In such a event, the umpire has the choice to either stick to his original decision or side with technology. Bowden didn’t change his decision and Bell stayed put (He was batting at 16 at the time and went on to score 69 runs). England went on to reach India’s total, but couldn’t get over the line. Thrillingly, the match ended in a tie.

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