India has never had a tearaway fast bowler like Brett Lee or Shoaib Akhtar or a fast bowling attack even remotely as threatening as the West Indian one of yore. Till some years back we were one of the worst fielding sides in the world.
We never had the professionalism of England of the 1970s and 1980s or the balance and precision of South Africa and Australia. Our cricket has always been plagued by a tremendous amount of politics and corruption. Despite that if you take ICC tournaments as an indicator; we are clearly the overachievers of world cricket.
These include the ODI World Cup which was introduced in 1975, the ICC KnockOut Trophy which was introduced in 1998 and morphed into the ICC Champions Trophy and the T20 World Cup introduced in 2007.
1. Australia—The perennial favourite, 7 titles
ODI World Cups 1987, 1999, 2003, 2007and 2015, ICC Champions Trophy 2006 and 2009.
There is no doubt that Australia is the giant of the cricketing world. Nobody comes close. It is always the favourite or one of the favourites to each and every World Cup. If there is such a thing as world domination in any sport, then it’s Australia and cricket.
2. India—The overachiever, 5 titles
ODI World Cups 1983 and 2011, T20 World Cup 2007, ICC Champions Trophy 2002 and 2013.
Despite all our inconsistencies, we have many more titles than South Africa and Pakistan. We also have won 5 Asia Cups and the 5-nation Hero Cup. Apart from the 5 ICC titles we also won the Benson & Hedges World Championship of Cricket in 1985 which has also been called the mini World Cup.
3. West Indies—Once in a blue moon, 4 titles
ODI World Cups 1975 and 1979, T20 World Cup 2012, ICC Champions Trophy 2004.
West Indies is a real mystery. While it ruled the 1970s, its decline started in the 1980s and 1990s. After 2000 cricket is practically dead there but strangely it has come out with a performance much better than South Africa or England.
From 2004-12, it won two ICC titles!
4. Sri Lanka—The sub-continental tiger, 3 titles
ODI World Cup 1996, T20 World Cup 2014 and ICC Champions Trophy 2002.
Sri Lanka is a giant when it comes to the sub-continent, but a lamb when it comes to winning tournaments abroad. In the sub-continent it can win at will, but outside it totally collapses especially in the finals. In the 2015 World Cup in Australia, it crashed in the quarters itself.
5. Pakistan—The extremist, 2 titles
ODI World Cup 1992 and T20 World Cup 2009.
Pakistan is an extreme case. It was a favourite in 1987 edition but crashed out. In 1992 it was on the verge of being knocked out and it stormed back to win the World Cup. Even in the 2015 edition it seemed to be on its way out, but made a comeback. In the quarters a fiery spell by Wahab Riaz almost set off an Australian batting collapse but the fielders totally mess it up. Basically Pakistan can win from any situation and lose from any situation in any part of the world.
6. England—Once in a century, 1 title
T20 World Cup 2010. England won one FIFA World Cup in 1966, one Rugby World Cup in 2003 and one cricket World Cup in 2010.
How such a sports crazy nation which is a pioneer in sporting rules and tournaments and the cutting edge of sports technology has so few titles is one of the greatest mysteries of the sporting world.
It has been a runner up thrice in the ODI World Cups and twice in the ICC Champions Trophy and doesn’t look like it’s going to get anything much in the near future.
7. South Africa—The perennial choker, 1 title
ICC KnockOut Trophy 1998. South Africa is one of the queerest sporting teams ever. Even though it returned to international cricket in 1992, it should have won 4-5 ICC titles by now such has been its talent, professionalism and consistency.
But forget a World Cup; it is yet to even enter a WC final. Why it freezes in knockout matches is an answer that the Cricket South Africa would pay millions to know the answer and sort it out.
New Zealand: The home giant, 1 title
ICC KnockOut Trophy 2000
If Sri Lanka are the sub-continental giants, then New Zealand are home giants. They are a formidable force when they play at home as their ODI and Test record shows. If they ever play in a World Cup final on home soil, they will be the clear favourites.
But they did perform once outside home soil in their finest ODI moment when they won the ICC KnockOut in Kenya in 2000.
The author is a Bengaluru-based journalist and blogger.
He blogs at http://www.sunilrajguru.com/