Updated: May 02, 2019
Author: Pete Best

Biggest Upsets in Cricket World Cup History

The format for the 2019 Cricket World Cup has seen associate ICC members disappear from the scene. With the likes of Scotland, Canada and the Netherlands pushed aside, there is less chance of big Cricket World Cup upsets occurring this year. Adding further to this forecast are all the top players at the 2019 World Cup.

That’s something of a shame because shock outcomes form part of World Cup folklore. So while we wait for the return of the ‘minnows’, let’s take a look at some of the biggest Cricket World Cup upsets since the tournament began in 1975.

5 Biggest Cricket World Cup Upsets in History

1996: Kenya beat West Indies by 73 runs

The West Indies World Cup side of 1996 was never going to compare with the great teams that had lifted the first two trophies in the 1970s. Assembling in Pune to face Kenya, the cricketing public were still expecting a one-sided affair. While that proved to be the case, few would have picked the winner in this Group A clash.

It all seemed to be going to plan when Courtney Walsh and Curtly Ambrose combined to dismiss the Kenyans for just 166. What happened next, however, ultimately resulted in one of those Cricket World Cup upsets that has stayed long in the memory.

The great Brian Lara was the crucial wicket and when he departed for just eight runs, the Windies collapsed. A scarcely believable total of just 93 provided one of those shocking cricket moments that is hard to fathom even now.

1983: Zimbabwe beat Australia by 13 runs

The Australians had yet to win a World Cup by the time the 1983 tournament came along. However, their loss to debutants Zimbabwe still ranks as one of the biggest Cricket World Cup upsets in history. Playing their first ever game at the tournament, the team led by Duncan Fletcher were given little hope of a winning start. Against the 1975 finalists, a first innings total of 239/6 subsequently did nothing to suggest a world cup upset.

Future England coach Fletcher made an impressive 69 in that total. The skipper would subsequently hold the key to an unlikely success. Bowling some innocuous military medium, Fletcher first broke the opening partnership between Graeme Wood and Kepler Wessels. The Aussies had 61 on the board at that point and were cruising. Nevertheless, Fletcher then tore through the top order, taking 4/42 in his 11 overs.

Rodney Marsh made a stubborn 50 at the back end. But on a difficult Trent Bridge surface, Australia could only make 226/7 from a full 60 overs, going down by 13 runs in the process.

1992: Zimbabwe beat England by nine runs

England have provided neutral fans with plenty of laughs over the years as they sink to lower opposition. In T20 world finals, they’ve managed to lose to the Netherlands. Still, this loss to Zimbabwe in the 50 over version would go down as one of the great Cricket World Cup upsets.

The 1992 England side would go on to reach the final but not before they went down to a modest Zimbabwe team containing renowned seamer and chicken farmer Eddo Brandes. Chasing just 135 for victory, England were undone by Brandes, who managed to produce seam and pronounced swing in what would be the spell of his life.

It all started with the very first ball of the reply; Brandes pinned traditional LBW candidate Graham Gooch right in front. Ian Botham and Allan Lamb made a recovery of sorts. However, Brandes returned to dismiss Lamb, Robin Smith and Graeme Hick in quick succession.

At 101-6, a recovery may have been on, but the tail fell away. England went down by nine runs in one of the most shocking Cricket World Cup upsets. Meanwhile, Eddo Brandes claimed the Man of the Match award with figures of 4-21.

2003: Canada beat Bangladesh by 60 runs

Bangladesh have yet to make a real impression at the World Cup. Nevertheless, they have been an established nation for some time and one that shouldn’t be losing to much weaker opposition. They’ve caused a few Cricket World Cup upsets themselves. Back in Durban in 2003, though, Bangladesh were on the wrong end of one of the biggest upsets in cricket.

Once again, we witnessed another case of the pre-match favourites failing to chase down a modest total. Canada made first use of the facilities and reached just 180 as wickets were shared around the Bangladeshi attack.

An opening stand of 33 in reply suggested that Bangladesh might be in control of the chase. But from there, wickets began to fall at regular intervals. In 28 overs, Canada added the insult of only using four bowlers in what would would later become known as one of those shocking cricket moments. Jamaican-born Austin Codrington was the hero with 5-27 on debut as Bangladesh fell a long way short of their sub-par target.

2011: Ireland beat England by three wickets

Everybody likes to beat the English but no team has greater desire to succeed than close neighbours, Ireland. The 2011 England World Cup side had already been involved in a dramatic tie with India. Still, few would have foreseen the shock that was in store at Bangalore.

Ireland have a dangerous side and have produced a few upsets in one day cricket in the past. But England still went into this as hot favourites. At the halfway point, that position in the betting markets would have strengthened as Andrew Strauss’ men made an above par 327/8 in the days before sides were targeting 350 on a regular basis.

At 111/5 in reply, Ireland were surely done, but we’d reckoned without Kevin O’Brien. The man who would later go on to score his country’s first test century tore into England’s attack, adding 162 for the sixth wicket with Alex Cusack. When Cusack departed, John Mooney stepped in with another useful contribution. However, it was O’Brien who dominated. The player smashed 113 from just 63 deliveries before Ireland eventually got home with five balls to spare.

Unlike the other games on this Cricket World Cup list, the main hero delivered with the bat rather than the ball. Ireland’s achievement was one of the biggest world cup shock result ever. It was also certainly one of the greatest matches in ICC Cricket World Cup history.