Pick an abiding memory from each of the 11 World Cups so far, and the chances are it won’t feature a spinner. For 1975 and 1979, your mind might turn to Viv Richards’s run-outs of Australia’s batsmen and his destruction of England’s bowlers, while 1983 was all about India stunning West Indies, and Kapil Dev’s running catch to dismiss that man Richards.
In 1987, Mike Gatting’s fatal reverse sweep cost England the final against Australia, and in 1992 Imran Khan’s cornered tigers triumphed for Pakistan—again at the expense of England.
Four years later, the story was plucky Sri Lanka upsetting the odds on an emotional night against Australia. In 1999, the Australians, as if piqued by that experience, went on an unstoppable run, aided by Herschelle Gibbs’s catch-that-never-was to reprieve Steve Waugh, and the Lance Klusener-Allan Donald mix-up in the semi-final.
In 2003 and 2007, it was more Australian triumph, before M.S. Dhoni sent India into raptures in 2011 with the match-winning six into the Mumbai night...