1996 Wills World Cup - The only World Cup Sri Lanka has won

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I was not surprised to see most of the Sri Lankan cricket fans comparing the 2014 World T20 title with the 1996 World Cup. In the last 7 years, Sri Lankan cricket team under the captaincy of the two senior members, Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene reached 4 finals, but was unable to win any of them. It's also important to note that 9 ICC events have been held in the last 7 years. It was about time that Sri Lanka won one. This victory should be dedicated one hundred percent to the die-hard fans of Sri Lanka cricket who have supported the team unconditionally, even when some players chose IPL and Big Bash over the country.

What I intended to discuss in this article is the 'false belief' some Sri Lankan fans have that the 1996 victory has been repeated. Sri Lanka won the first and only World Cup in 1996 under the captaincy of (in my opinion the Father of Sri Lanka cricket), Arjuna Ranatunga. It was under his captaincy that the Sri Lanka team evolved from being 'nothing' to a leading force of World Cricket. It is not wrong to say that the World Cup victory was only a part of the illustrious career of Arjuna Ranatunga. It was him who broke the shackles for Sri Lanka cricket and stood as an exemplary hero, being a role model for future cricketers to excel their performances in the international stage.

Comparing such a historic victory with a WorldT20 tournament is an unfair comparison.

Firstly, one needs to differentiate a World Cup and a WorldT20 tournament. The 1975 Cricket World Cup (the Prudential Cup) was the first edition of the ICC's Cricket World Cup. So far only 5 countries have won the World Cup since it's inauguration 39 years ago in 1975. A World Cup is held every 4 years. West Indians won the first two World Cups in 1975 and 1979, who were followed by India in 1983, Australia in 1987 and Pakistan in 1992. Sri Lanka won the World Cup(Officially called Wills World Cup) in 1996 and Australia won the World Cup thrice in a row in 1999, 2003 and 2007. India won the last world cup in 2011 and are current holders of the ICC World Cup.

There are 3 World events held by the ICC.
1. ICC World Cup
2. ICC Champions Trophy
3. ICC WorldT20

ICC introduced the WorldT20 in 2007(Held every 2 years). 5 countries have won the event even before the tournament elapsed 7 years. Namely, India, Pakistan, England, West Indies and Sri Lanka won 2007, 2009, 2010, 2012, and 2014 WorldT20s respectively.

Secondly, one needs to differentiate the situations leading to the two ICC events. 1996 World Cup is known as the game-changing point for Sri Lanka cricket. Pre'96 and Post'96 eras have been completely different. Before '96, our team was merely a cricket team that rarely won matches against leading sides and the main ambition of playing a test match was to try and draw it. It was after the 1996 victory, the team as a whole and players individually excelled into a greater level that the team together could bring great victories like the off test at the Oval against England. Sri Lanka were called the 'Undisputed One Day Champions' during the 1996-1998 era.

In contrast, Sri Lanka Cricket team under the captaincy of Lasith Malinga won the WorldT20 tournament after disappointing losses in 4 ICC finals in the last 7 years. It was almost as if it was a 'must win' or 'no way out' for Sri Lanka.

Sri Lanka participated in 9 ICC World Events in the last 7 years. Namely,

1. ICC World Cup 2007
2. ICC WorldT20 2007
3. ICC WorldT20 2009
4. ICC Champions Trophy 2009
5. ICC WorldT20 2010
6. ICC World Cup 2011
7. ICC WorldT20 2012
8. ICC Champions Trophy 2013
9. ICC WorldT20 2014

In contrast, the only ICC event between 1992 World Cup and 1999 World Cup(7 years) was the 1996 World Cup, which Sri Lanka won, surprising cricketing pandits and changing the history of the game. One would also think that if there were World Tournaments frequently, like today, during the 1996-2000 period, Sri Lanka could have won a whole bunch of them with the game-changing batting of Sanath Jayasuriya and Romesh Kaluwitharana, followed by Aravinda De Silva's heroics and match-winning defence of Arjuna Ranatunga.

All credit should go to the Sri Lanka cricket team led by Lasith Malinga for bringing home an ICC World Title after 18 years. But, one should also not downgrade the 1996 World Cup victory which is the ultimate glory that a cricket team has brought to our motherland.

Therefore, it's important for us to understand the difference between a World Cup and a WorldT20. It is up to the intelligent viewers and true fans of Sri Lanka cricket to determine what victory is greater.

Written by a 'Die-hard Sri Lankan cricket fan since 1996'


ROAR OF LANKA's picture
Member since:
4 July 2011
Last activity:
6 weeks 3 days

Seriously dude you cannot say the 1996 World Cup is greater victory or this one is T20 so it is not great comparison is utter filth from your side, because do you know how hard, painful & emotionally hearbreaking to reach this pinncle we've been striving for the past 18 years in 2 50 over world cup final heartbreaking losses and to add 2 World T20 losses and having beaten dominant India who always were our game-killers and worst enemies to get over the line, beating them is most impossible but the team did it this time giving Mahela & Sanga what they cherished most a WORLD CUP VICTORY!!

Anonymous's picture

yah comapring 1996 world cup with t 20 world championship is unfair in many aspects,50 game is rather more complicated and needs more courage n dedication arjuna was a great leader and a marvelous personailty full credit to him on 1996 world cup.btw 1996 championship was the key for the present success of sri-lankan national n domestic cricket achivements.

Seshan's picture

THis is the WORLD CUP of shortest format of the game. Have a look at the official ICC web site of 2014 WT20, They also refer to it as the ICC T20 World Cup 2014.

UppercuT's picture
Member since:
19 October 2011
Last activity:
2 years 5 weeks

:D))))) funny blog.... it's been 3 days since the WT20 final.... i have NOT come across a single comparison of the 2 victories or someone saying one is better than the other...

mee tika sinhalen liyanne, IC eke inna aith rata wala inna un, meka dakala katin witharak nemei hamatanimma hina wena hinda...

ahala thiyanawada, apayata giya lankawe porawal wala katawa?? ara hama ratakama walak gawa guard kenek inna but lankawe wala langa guard kenek nati katawa???

e katawa matak wenawa meka kiyewwama :D)))))))

Stormy's picture
Member since:
15 January 2011
Last activity:
1 day 10 hours

Not sure where this read is taking us but my feelings are that both WC were won on master classes of tactics. The opponent was on both times the favorite but SL out thought them and won the final with superior tactics.

If had to make a call I would call the t20 against India the bigger achievement as battling India in those conditions were an unbelievable achievement as were the tactics SL employed.

spirit of criket's picture

well said, t20 world cup cannot be compared with the glory of 1996. withing many hardships n obstacles arjuna leaded the national team in 1996 to the victory full credit to him. after all those IPL n BPL true spirit of cricket has vanished now,

Sanjeev Bernard Fernando's picture
Member since:
25 January 2013
Last activity:
9 weeks 11 hours

I agree 100% with stormy! We now have 3 different formats within cricket, unlike in the 90's. One might argue that it takes that much more skill today, to adjust and perform at different level's of challenges. SL team of late has been brilliant in all formats (not their fault that test cricket has been compromised by the board and we've played so little of it).

Arjuna and his team had to overcome challenges associated with 'growing pains'. Being a small nation with little power and respect, Arjuna had to do it the hard way to prove our worth and earn that respect.

The current set of players are fighting very different battles. If Arjuna had to overcome Darrel Hair, then Mahela, Sanga and the team had to overcome their own bosses!

It is also hard to compare the level of challenge each team faced. It was not Arjuna's fault that we had an easier path to the semifinal! They still had to beat England, India and Australia, in India and Pakistan!.

The path to glory for the 2014 team was as hard if not harder. They had to beat a high-flying WI team and the favorites India, both who were playing in conditions perfectly suited to them as well.

The 96 win was made possible by experience, courage, lion-hearted leader and a brilliant batsman in Aravinda! The 2014 win was made possible by a group of leaders hungry for success and a team that executed to perfection!

Years from now, the record books will show that Sri Lanka won a world cup in 1996 and in 2014! They are equally prestigious and precious gifts and honor to Sri Lanka. This should never be about 96 or 2014, Arjuna or Mahela, 50/50 or T20, the simple fact is that Sri Lanka won a cricket world cup in 2014!!!! Let's leave our bias aside and celebrate this special win!

(Last edited by Sanjeev Bernard Fernando on April 10, 2014 - 11:50)

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