Former Zimbabwe fast bowler Eddo Brandes still recalls the ICC Cricket World Cup in 1992, held in Australia and New Zealand, as a tournament where his side did not grasp the opportunities.
Brandes went down memory lane after the schedule for the 2015 edition, scheduled to return to Australia and New Zealand, was announced simultaneously in Melbourne and Wellington on 30 July.
“It was one of the better trips that I’d been on, especially at that stage. Everything was very well organised, and the cricket climate and culture was very similar to what we were used to – play, and then afterwards, go down to a restaurant,” said Brandes, who ended as Zimbabwe’s leading wicket-taker in the ICC Cricket World Cup 1992 with 14 wickets from eight matches.
Zimbabwe, which also included the likes of Dave Houghton (captain), Iain Butchart, Alistair Campbell, Andy Flower, Andy Pycroft, John Traicos and Andrew Waller among others, claimed just one victory from eight matches.
But the Zimbabwe side impressed a lot during the tournament and later that year in 1992 even gained Test status to become the ninth Test playing nation in the world.
Brandes’ best moment in the tournament was in that only victory, against England, when he walked away with the man of the match award for his match figures of 10-4-21-4 as the Africa side successfully defended a small total of 134, to win by nine runs.
“It was the end of the tournament, it was our last game. We only got 134 batting first. Geoffrey Boycott was there to say, ‘just watch our players noodle that around and show how to bat in these conditions’. Despite what happened, we didn’t get to see him after the game. It was a good day.
“I think we’d had a reasonable tournament with a couple of big situations and games going against us due to our inexperience as well as twice due to the weather. We’d had a really good tournament, and so, from that point of view, we were always there or thereabouts.
“We played our opening game against Sri Lanka and got a massive score but they chased down a 314-run target. We should have won that game. As I said earlier, we had our opportunities and we should have grasped them.
“But we were always learning and just trying to do our best, because we were the underdogs,” he said.
The 1992 edition featured the stars of the 1980s and also heralded the arrival of some of the upcoming talents of the 1990s. Brandes considers himself lucky to have featured in such an event.
“There was obviously Sachin Tendulkar, Wasim Akram, Inzamam- ul-Haq, Mark Waugh, Graeme Hick among others. It was also exciting with South Africa being there for their first World Cup. Allan Donald, Jonty Rhodes, and a couple of older players, who played a little bit and then retired after the event, were around. New Zealand had Martin Crowe,’’ recalled Brandes.
For the 2015 event, Zimbabwe is in Pool B and will begin its campaign against South Africa in a day-night game at Seddon Park, Hamilton on 15 February, before completing its Pool stage engagements with a match against India at Auckland’s Eden Park on 14 March.
So it will be a tough assignment for Zimbabwe as it rebuilds its cricketing future.
No one knows the pressures and joys of being part of the ICC Cricket World Cup as a Zimbabwe player, better than Brandes. He featured in four ICC Cricket World Cups from 1987 to 1999. In fact, Brandes made his ODI debut in the 1987 edition of the tournament at Hyderabad against New Zealand.
Brandes rates the experience of being part of the ICC Cricket World Cup as the most invaluable one in his cricketing career. “It’s the only tournament where everyone comes together, and plays on the same field, per se.
“Everyone strives to go to a World Cup, it’s still seen as the biggest tournament. It’s probably among the top five sports tournaments in the world. You’ve got soccer, rugby, golf (Ryder Cup is a big one). So it’s right up there, to be able to go there and to be on that stage is just a dream come true. When you travel the world to play in World Cups, with the different cultures, it’s just wonderful, and a privilege to be part of,’’ concluded Brandes.
Zimbabwe’s group stage matches in the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015:
Sun 15 Feb – v South Africa, Seddon Park, Hamilton (d/n)
Thurs 19 Feb – v Qualifier 4, Saxton Oval, Nelson (d)
Tues 24 Feb – v West Indies, Manuka Oval, Canberra (d/n)
Sun 1 Mar – v Pakistan, Gabba, Brisbane (d/n)
Sat 7 Mar – v Ireland, Bellerive Oval, Hobart (d/n)
Sat 14 Mar – v India, Eden Park, Auckland (d/n)