The first international cricket match was played between Canada and the United States, on 24 and 25 September 1844. However, the first credited Test match was played in 1877 between Australia and England, and the two teams competed regularly for The Ashes in subsequent years. South Africa was admitted to Test status in 1889. Representative cricket teams were selected to tour each other, resulting in bilateral competition. Cricket was also included as an Olympic sport at the 1900 Paris Games, where Great Britain defeated France to win the gold medal. This was the only appearance of cricket at the Summer Olympics.
The first multilateral competition at international level was the 1912 Triangular Tournament, a Test cricket tournament played in England between all three Test-playing nations at the time: England, Australia and South Africa. The event was not a success: the summer was exceptionally wet, making play difficult on damp uncovered pitches, and attendances were poor, attributed to a "surfeit of cricket". Since then, international Test cricket has generally been organised as bilateral series: a multilateral Test tournament was not organised again until the triangular Asian Test Championship in 1999.
The number of nations playing Test cricket increased gradually over time, with the addition of West Indies in 1928, New Zealand in 1930, India in 1932, and Pakistan in 1952. However, international cricket continued to be played as bilateral Test matches over three, four or five days.
In the early 1960s, English county cricket teams began playing a shortened version of cricket which only lasted for one day. Starting in 1962 with a four-team knockout competition known as the Midlands Knock-Out Cup, and continuing with the inaugural Gillette Cup in 1963, one-day cricket grew in popularity in England. A national Sunday League was formed in 1969. The first One-Day International match was played on the fifth day of a rain-aborted Test match between England and Australia at Melbourne in 1971, to fill the time available and as compensation for the frustrated crowd. It was a forty over game with eight balls per over.
In the late 1970s, Kerry Packer established the rival World Series Cricket (WSC) competition. It introduced many of the now commonplace features of One Day International cricket, including coloured uniforms, matches played at night under floodlights with a white ball and dark sight screens, and, for television broadcasts, multiple camera angles, effects microphones to capture sounds from the players on the pitch, and on-screen graphics. The first of the matches with coloured uniforms was the WSC Australians in wattle gold versus WSC West Indians in coral pink, played at VFL Park in Melbourne on 17 January 1979. The success and popularity of the domestic one-day competitions in England and other parts of the world, as well as the early One-Day Internationals, prompted the ICC to consider organising a Cricket World Cup.
The inaugural Cricket World Cup was hosted in 1975 by England, the only nation able to put forward the resources to stage an event of such magnitude at the time. The 1975 tournament started on 7 June. The first three events were held in England and officially known as the Prudential Cup after the sponsors Prudential plc. The matches consisted of 60 six-ball overs per team, played during the daytime in traditional form, with the players wearing cricket whites and using red cricket balls.
Eight teams participated in the first tournament: Australia, England, India, New Zealand, Pakistan, and the West Indies (the six Test nations at the time), together with Sri Lanka and a composite team from East Africa. One notable omission was South Africa, who were banned from international cricket due to apartheid. The tournament was won by the West Indies, who defeated Australia by 17 runs in the final at Lord's.
The 1979 World Cup saw the introduction of the ICC Trophy competition to select non-Test playing teams for the World Cup, with Sri Lanka and Canada qualifying. The West Indies won a second consecutive World Cup tournament, defeating the hosts England by 92 runs in the final. At a meeting which followed the World Cup, the International Cricket Conference agreed to make the competition a quadrennial event.
The 1983 event was hosted by England for a third consecutive time. By this stage, Sri Lanka had become a Test-playing nation, and Zimbabwe qualified through the ICC Trophy. A fielding circle was introduced, 30 yards (27 m) away from the stumps. Four fieldsmen needed to be inside it at all times. The teams faced each other twice, before moving into the knock-outs. India, an outsider, quoted at 66–1 to win by bookmakers before the competition began, were crowned champions after upsetting the West Indies by 43 runs in the final.
India and Pakistan jointly hosted the 1987 tournament, the first time that the competition was held outside England. The games were reduced from 60 to 50 overs per innings, the current standard, because of the shorter daylight hours in the Indian subcontinent compared with England's summer. Australia won the championship by defeating England by 7 runs in the final, the closest margin in World Cup final history.
The 1992 World Cup, held in Australia and New Zealand, introduced many changes to the game, such as coloured clothing, white balls, day/night matches, and a change to the fielding restriction rules. The South African cricket team participated in the event for the first time, following the fall of the apartheid regime and the end of the international sports boycott. Pakistan overcame a dismal start in the tournament to eventually defeat England by 22 runs in the final and emerge as winners.
The 1996 championship was held in the Indian subcontinent for a second time, with the inclusion of Sri Lanka as host for some of its group stage matches. In the semi-final, Sri Lanka, heading towards a crushing victory over India at Eden Gardens after the hosts lost eight wickets while scoring 120 runs in pursuit of 252, were awarded victory by default after crowd unrest broke out in protest against the Indian performance. Sri Lanka went on to win their maiden championship by defeating Australia by seven wickets in the final at Lahore.
In 1999 the event was hosted by England, with some matches also being held in Scotland, Ireland, Wales and the Netherlands. Twelve teams contested the World Cup. Australia qualified for the semi-finals after reaching their target in their Super 6 match against South Africa off the final over of the match. They then proceeded to the final with a tied match in the semi-final also against South Africa where a mix-up between South African batsmen Lance Klusener and Allan Donald saw Donald drop his bat and stranded mid-pitch to be run out. In the final, Australia dismissed Pakistan for 132 and then reached the target in less than 20 overs and with eight wickets in hand.
South Africa, Zimbabwe and Kenya hosted the 2003 World Cup. The number of teams participating in the event increased from twelve to fourteen. Kenya's victories over Sri Lanka and Zimbabwe, among others – and a forfeit by the New Zealand team, which refused to play in Kenya because of security concerns – enabled Kenya to reach the semi-finals, the best result by an associate. In the final, Australia made 359 runs for the loss of two wickets, the largest ever total in a final, defeating India by 125 runs.
In 2007 the tournament was hosted by the West Indies and expanded to sixteen teams. Following Pakistan's upset loss to World Cup debutants Ireland in the group stage, Pakistani coach Bob Woolmer was found dead in his hotel room. Jamaican police had initially launched a murder investigation into Woolmer's death but later confirmed that he died of heart failure. Australia defeated Sri Lanka in the final by 53 runs (D/L) in farcical light conditions, and extended their undefeated run in the World Cup to 29 matches and winning three straight championships.
India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh together hosted the 2011 Cricket World Cup. Pakistan were stripped of their hosting rights following the terrorist attack on the Sri Lankan cricket team, with the games originally scheduled for Pakistan redistributed to the other host countries. The number of teams participating in the World Cup dropped down to fourteen. Australia lost their final group stage match against Pakistan on 19 March 2011, ending an unbeaten streak of 35 World Cup matches, which had begun on 23 May 1999. India won their second World Cup title by beating Sri Lanka by 6 wickets in the final in Mumbai, and became the first country to win the final on home soil.
Australia and New Zealand jointly hosted the 2015 Cricket World Cup. The number of participants remained at fourteen. Ireland was the most successful Associate nation with a total of three wins in the tournament. New Zealand beat South Africa in a thrilling first semi-final to qualify for their maiden World Cup final. Australia defeated New Zealand by seven wickets in the final at Melbourne to lift the World Cup for the fifth time.
The Test-playing nations qualify automatically for the World Cup main event while the other teams have to qualify through a series of preliminary qualifying tournaments. A new qualifying format was introduced for the 2015 Cricket World Cup. The top two teams of the 2011–13 ICC World Cricket League Championship qualify directly. The remaining six teams join the third and fourth-placed teams of 2011 ICC World Cricket League Division Two and the top two teams of the 2013 ICC World Cricket League Division Three in the World Cup Qualifier to decide the remaining two places.
Qualifying tournaments were introduced for the second World Cup, where two of the eight places in the finals were awarded to the leading teams in the ICC Trophy. The number of teams selected through the ICC Trophy had varied throughout the years. The World Cricket League (administered by the International Cricket Council) is the qualification system provided to allow the Associate and Affiliate members of the ICC more opportunities to qualify. The name "ICC Trophy" has been changed to "ICC World Cup Qualifier".
Under the current qualifying process, the World Cricket League, all Associate and Affiliate members of the ICC are able to qualify for the World Cup. Associate and Affiliate members must play between two and five stages in the ICC World Cricket League to qualify for the World Cup finals, depending on the Division in which they start the qualifying process.
Process summary in chronological order (2011-2014):
- 2011 ICC World Cricket League Division Two: 6 Teams – Top 2 were promoted to the 2011–13 ICC World Cricket League Championship. The third and fourth-placed teams qualified for the 2014 Cricket World Cup Qualifier. The fifth and sixth-placed teams were relegated to the Division Three for 2013.
- 2011–13 ICC World Cricket League Championship: 8 Teams – Top 2 automatically qualified for the 2015 Cricket World Cup. The remaining six teams qualified for the 2014 Cricket World Cup Qualifier.
- 2013 ICC World Cricket League Division Three: 6 Teams – Top 2 were qualified for the 2014 Cricket World Cup Qualifier. The fifth and sixth-placed teams were relegated to the Division Four for 2014.
- 2014 Cricket World Cup Qualifier: 10 Teams – Top 2 qualified for the 2015 Cricket World Cup and the 2015–17 ICC World Cricket League Championship. The third and fourth-placed teams qualified for the 2015–17 ICC World Cricket League Championship. The fifth, sixth, seventh, and eighth-placed teams remained in the Division Two for 2015. The ninth and tenth-placed teams were relegated to the Division Three for 2014
The format of the Cricket World Cup has changed greatly over the course of its history. Each of the first four tournaments was played by eight teams, divided into two groups of four. The competition consisted of two stages, a group stage and a knock-out stage. The four teams in each group played each other in the round-robin group stage, with the top two teams in each group progressing to the semi-finals. The winners of the semi-finals played against each other in the final. With South Africa returning in the fifth tournament in 1992 as a result of the end of the apartheid boycott, nine teams played each other once in the group phase, and the top four teams progressed to the semi-finals. The tournament was further expanded in 1996, with two groups of six teams. The top four teams from each group progressed to quarter-finals and semi-finals.
A distinct format was used for the 1999 and 2003 World Cups. The teams were split into two pools, with the top three teams in each pool advancing to the Super 6. The Super 6 teams played the three other teams that advanced from the other group. As they advanced, the teams carried their points forward from previous matches against other teams advancing alongside them, giving them an incentive to perform well in the group stages. The top four teams from the Super 6 stage progressed to the semi-finals, with the winners playing in the final.
The format used in the 2007 World Cup involved 16 teams allocated into four groups of four. Within each group, the teams played each other in a round-robin format. Teams earned points for wins and half-points for ties. The top two teams from each group moved forward to the Super 8 round. The Super 8 teams played the other six teams that progressed from the different groups. Teams earned points in the same way as the group stage, but carried their points forward from previous matches against the other teams who qualified from the same group to the Super 8 stage. The top four teams from the Super 8 round advanced to the semi-finals, and the winners of the semi-finals played in the final.
The format used in the 2011 and 2015 World Cups featured two groups of seven teams, each playing in a round-robin format. The top four teams from each group proceeded to the knock out stage consisting of quarter-finals, semi-finals and ultimately the final.
It is proposed that in 2019 World Cup, the number of teams participating will go down to 10 and all the teams will play against each other once in round robin format, before entering the known-outs. this would be similar to the one used in 1992 World Cup.
The ICC Cricket World Cup Trophy is presented to the winners of the World Cup. The current trophy was created for the 1999 championships, and was the first permanent prize in the tournament's history. Prior to this, different trophies were made for each World Cup. The trophy was designed and produced in London by a team of craftsmen from Garrard & Co over a period of two months.
The current trophy is made from silver and gilt, and features a golden globe held up by three silver columns. The columns, shaped as stumps and bails, represent the three fundamental aspects of cricket: batting, bowling and fielding, while the globe characterises a cricket ball. The seam is tilted to symbolize the axial tilt of the Earth. It stands 60 centimetres high and weighs approximately 11 kilograms. The names of the previous winners are engraved on the base of the trophy, with space for a total of twenty inscriptions. The ICC keeps the original trophy. A replica differing only in the inscriptions is permanently awarded to the winning team.
The tournament is the world's third largest with only the FIFA World Cup and the Summer Olympics exceeding it. The 2011 Cricket World Cup final was televised in over 200 countries to over 2.2 billion television viewers. Television rights, mainly for the 2011 and 2015 World Cup, were sold for over US$1.1 billion, and sponsorship rights were sold for a further US$500 million. The 2003 Cricket World Cup matches were attended by 626,845 people, while the 2007 Cricket World Cup sold more than 672,000 tickets.
Successive World Cup tournaments have generated increasing media attention as One-Day International cricket has become more established. The 2003 World Cup in South Africa was the first to sport a mascot, Dazzler the zebra. An orange mongoose known as Mello was the mascot for the 2007 Cricket World Cup. Stumpy, a blue elephant was the mascot for the 2011 World Cup.
On 13 February, the opening of the 2015 tournament was celebrated with a Google Doodle.
The International Cricket Council's executive committee votes for the hosts of the tournament after examining the bids made by the nations keen to hold a Cricket World Cup.
England hosted the first three competitions. The ICC decided that England should host the first tournament because it was ready to devote the resources required to organising the inaugural event. India volunteered to host the third Cricket World Cup, but most ICC members preferred England as the longer period of daylight in England in June meant that a match could be completed in one day. The 1987 Cricket World Cup was held in India and Pakistan, the first hosted outside England.
Many of the tournaments have been jointly hosted by nations from the same geographical region, such as South Asia in 1987, 1996 and 2011, Australasia in 1992 and 2015, Southern Africa in 2003 and West Indies in 2007.Notes
Twenty nations have qualified for the Cricket World Cup at least once (excluding qualification tournaments). Seven teams have competed in every finals tournament, five of which have won the title. The West Indies won the first two tournaments, Australia has won five, India has won two, while Pakistan and Sri Lanka have each won once. The West Indies (1975 and 1979) and Australia (1999, 2003 and 2007) are the only nations to have won consecutive titles. Australia has played in seven of the eleven final matches (1975, 1987, 1996, 1999, 2003, 2007, 2015). England has yet to win the World Cup, but has been runners-up three times (1979, 1987, 1992). The best result by a non-Test playing nation is the semi-final appearance by Kenya in the 2003 tournament; while the best result by a non-Test playing team on their debut is the Super 8 (second round) by Ireland in 2007.
Sri Lanka as a co-host of the 1996 Cricket World Cup was the first host to win the tournament though the final was held in Pakistan. India won in 2011 as host and was the first team to win in a final played in their own country. Australia repeated the feat in 2015. England is the only other host to have made the final, in 1979. Other countries which have achieved or equalled their best World Cup results while co-hosting the tournament are New Zealand as finalists in 2015; Zimbabwe who reached the Super Six in 2003; and Kenya as semi-finalists in 2003. In 1987, co-hosts India and Pakistan both reached the semi-finals, but were eliminated by Australia and England respectively. Australia in 1992, England in 1999, South Africa in 2003, and Bangladesh in 2011 have been the host teams that were eliminated in the first round.
An overview of the teams' performances in every World Cup:
†No longer exists.
Before the 1992 World Cup, South Africa was banned due to apartheid.
The number of wins followed by Run-rate is the criteria for determining the rankings till the 1987 World Cup.
The number of points followed by, head to head performance and then net run-rate is the criteria for determining the rankings for the World Cups from 1992 onwards.
Legend1st – Winner
2nd – Runner up
SF – Semi-finals
S8 – Super Eight (2007)
S6 – Super Six (1999–2003)
QF – Quarter-finals (1996, 2011–2015)
GP – Group – First round
†No longer exists.
The table below provides an overview of the performances of teams over past World Cups, as of the end of group stage of the 2015 tournament. Teams are sorted by best performance, then by appearances, total number of wins, total number of games, and alphabetical order respectively.The Win percentage excludes no results and counts ties as half a win.
†No longer exists.
Since 1992, one player has been declared as "Man of the Tournament" at the end of the World Cup finals:
There were no Man of the Tournament awards before 1992 but Man of the Match awards have always been given for individual matches. Winning the Man of the Match in the final is logically noteworthy, as this indicates the player deemed to have played the biggest part in the World Cup final. To date the award has always gone to a member of the winning side. The Man of the Match award in the final of the competition has been awarded to: