England have played several opening games in the ICC Cricket World Cup, having lost just once. (Image credit: Twitter)
After four years, the ICC Cricket World Cup returns and it is back at the ‘home of cricket’. England and South Africa will start off the tournament in the opening game at The Oval. For England, this will not be the first time where they will feature in the opening game of the Cricket World Cup. For South Africa, this will only be their second time that they have featured in the opening game of this quadrennial event. How did England and South Africa fare in when they played on the very first day of the World Cup? The answer is contrasting, with South Africa, in particular, tasting a heartbreaking loss while England has dominated.
The first game of the World Cup involved England and India at Lord’s and the hosts made a great start with Dennis Amiss smashing 137. However, the match was remembered for Sunil Gavaskar’s 174-ball 36 and England won by a massive margin of 202 runs. In 1979, England was once involved on the opening day of the tournament and they registered a comfortable six-wicket win against Australia. The winning run continued in the 1983 World Cup when they took on New Zealand at The Oval, winning by 106 runs with Allan Lamb hitting a century.
England played the second match on the opening day of the 1992 World Cup when they took on India in Perth. Robin Smith’s 91 and Dermott Reeve’s 3/38 helped them beat India by nine runs. In the 1999 World Cup opener at Lord’s, England was boosted by a knock of 88 from Alec Stewart and Alan Mullally’s 4/37 to help them beat defending champions Sri Lanka by eight wickets. In the 2015 ICC Cricket World Cup, England took on Australia in Melbourne but they tasted defeat. Aaron Finch blasted 135 and Glenn Maxwell smashed 66 off 40 balls.
Steve Finn took a hat-trick and ended with 5/71 but Australia registered 342/9. In response, Mitchell Marsh took 5/33 and England lost by 111 runs, their first loss ever in the opening game of the tournament.
For South Africa, they featured in the opening game of the World Cup only once and it was when they hosted the tournament in 2003. South Africa took on West Indies in Newlands, Cape Town and chose to bowl. They had reduced the West Indies to 67/2 in 25 overs. Brian Lara, though, had other ideas and he blazed away to a brilliant century. Carl Hooper’s run-a-ball 40 and an 18-ball 40 from Ricardo Powell helped West Indies reach 278/5. South Africa was docked one over due to their slow over-rate but in response, Gary Kirsten smashed 69 and Mark Boucher put South Africa on course with 49.
However, it was Lance Klusener’s knock that stole the show. The left-hander regularly cleared the boundaries and his 57, which included five sixes helped South Africa near the target but West Indies held their nerve and won by three runs. The one over which was taken away proved to be costly for South Africa. How will both England and South Africa fare this time in the 2019 ICC Cricket World Cup?