Calum Henderson looks back at the 1992 World Cup through the garish lens of Sky’s incessant memorialising and finds the coverage was as fine as the cricket.
Was the 1992 Cricket World Cup really as good as everyone remembers it? Is it wrong to hold a flame for the golden summers of One World of Sport? Thanks to some benevolent genius at Sky Sport deciding to screen round-the-clock highlights in the lead-up to this year’s tournament, we had a rare opportunity to return to the glorious era and find out.
Cricket nostalgia is one of the most powerful strains of nostalgia, and I prepared for the inevitability that my rose-tinted memories would be shattered in the harsh digital light of 2015. But the short verdict is that ‘92 actually was as good as everyone remembers it. If anything it was even better than 23 years of cricket nostalgia had built it up to be. The perfect uniforms! The beautiful, idiosyncratic bowling actions! Rod Latham!
Was it better to watch than the 2015 edition? In most ways, certainly not. But in some ways, emphatically yes. Here are some things the 1992 Benson & Hedges Cricket World Cup did better.
Who’ll Rule the World is just the best sporting event theme song that’s ever been produced. If you don’t feel so pumped up that you could vomit when the “it’s a once in a lifetime cha-ance” line hits then I guess you just don’t like cricket or sport or being alive.
When this year’s World Cup began the first thing everyone did was pile onto Twitter and moan about the graphics, tweeting things like “Grr, mad as hell about these bloody graphics.” While the graphics this year are actually fine, Twitter did have a point insofar as cricket graphic perfection was achieved as long ago as 1992.
Nobody knew what UNiSYS Computers were in 1992 and nobody knows now. Just a cool thing to have randomly at the bottom of the scorecard.
Imagine a crowd where every third person could conceivably be the infamous flag-waving, tracksuit-wearing pest Sonny Shaw in his youth. Add in the possibility of all the young Sonny Shaws being allowed to run onto the pitch every time anything remotely momentous happens (Ken Rutherford scores a fifty etc.). Just terrifying, and amazing to watch.
PS all the Sonny Shaws are allowed to bring in a bed sheet painted with any deranged cricket-related nonsense they could think of. Brilliant innovation.
Cricket needs bizarre, otherworldly umpires. Piloo Reporter, whom the commentators delightfully refer to throughout as “Mister Reporter” (or “the Indian umpire” in the case of ‘the Australian racist’ Ian Chappell), had what stands as the most hypnotic and strange technique ever seen for signalling fours. This is exactly how Hergé would have drawn an umpire if Tintin had gone to the cricket.
The most striking thing about the commentators of ‘92, aside from reacting to the sight of the Indian umpire as if ALF himself was out on the pitch, is how positive and generous they are in comparison to their modern day counterparts. The rise of the ex-player as commentator has brought a more critical edge to the com-box and it’s become kind of a downbuzz. They don’t have to lower themselves to IPL-level cheerleading, but it’s nice to hear the skills we’ve come to take for granted receive the appreciation they deserve.
The ‘92 commentary team was stacked with legends, but while the comically genteel Henry ‘My Dear Old Thing’ Blofeld was [in David Brent voice] probably the humour, the true voice of the World Cup was undoubtedly the hearty Cantabrian accent of Peter Sharp.
Something about staging the post-match formalities in this claustrophobic studio environment makes the cricket god Martin Crowe seem way more relatable and human. The way he sits shoulder-to-shoulder with the National Sales Manager(!) of Benson & Hedges like he’s been cornered in the clubrooms by an intense old boy who wants to rattle on about the secrets to facing leg spin. The DB Draught tracksuit. Every part of this set-up is really cool and good.
If we can bring back only one thing from 1992, though, it’s got to be this lil Kiwi who popped up every time a batting milestone was reached.
This is how everyone watching the cricket should always react when one of the Black Caps scores a fifty.
The Spinoff Weekly compiles the best stories of the week – an essential guide to modern life in New Zealand, emailed out on Monday evenings.