Every cricket fan who has watched the game since at least the early 1990s will have the World Cup memory of Steve Waugh telling Herschelle Gibbs, "You just dropped the World Cup, mate!" after Gibbs dropped what would have been an easy catch for him on any other day.
As Waugh revealed later, he never actually said those words; they were the figment of someone's imagination. But the line stuck, and today it has become part of folklore.
That was not the only instance in which a fielder 'dropped a World Cup' for his country. Here is a detailed look at three players who could've possibly denied their country a World Cup, starting with Gibbs himself:
1) Gibbs drops the World Cup!
(Australia vs South Africa, Super Sixes Match, WC 1999 -- Birmingham)
Herschelle Gibbs could have been the hero for South Africa in their Super Sixes match against Australia in the 1999 World Cup through his 101*(134) in the first innings. But he ended up being one of the heroes for Australia, as he dropped Steve Waugh when the latter was on just 56, in the 31st over of the match.
Waugh pulverized the Proteas bowling that day, smashing his way to an unbeaten 120 off 110 balls. However, all of Waugh's antics with the bat would not have been possible if Gibbs had not got overexcited, and had he hung on neatly to the catch instead.
The moment Gibbs caught the ball, he tried to hurl it skywards in excitement, as a result of which the ball slipped from his fingertips.
2) When Behardien and Duminy booked New Zealand's tickets to the 2015 final
(1st Semi-Final, WC 2015 -- Auckland )
If you are reading a tragic article about the Cricket World Cup, you very well know which country is going to make the most appearances in that article. If Gibbs' drop catch of Waugh was due to a premature celebration, then Farhaan Behardien's dropped catch of Grant Elliot in the first semifinal of the 2015 WC was a clear case of desperation.
Elliot, who played a blinder in that match, was on 75 when he miscued a shot. Berhardien, a substitute fielder, seemed to be in great position to take the catch. But with JP Duminy furiously rushing in from fine-leg, and neither apparently calling for the catch, the two of them collided and made a mess of it.
The result was that Elliot was given a chance to finish the match himself.
Had the catch been taken, New Zealand's score would've read 284/7 at the end of the penultimate over, needing 14 off the final over. With just the tail remaining and Dale Steyn set to bowl the last over, South Africa would have fancied the idea of making it to their first ever World Cup final. That is, if the catch had been taken.
3) Nuwan Kulasekara misses a golden chance to dismiss Gautam Gambhir
(Final, WC 2011 -- Mumbai)
Gautam Gambhir was the highest run-getter in India's chase in the final of the 2011 World Cup; he registered a responsible and match-winning innings of 97 off 122 balls. However, he was dropped by Nuwan Kulasekara when he was on just 30.
Attempting an inside-out shot, Gambhir made the ball follow a trajectory that ended a few feet in front of Kulasekara's original fielding position. A diving Kulasekara, however, never managed to properly get his hands to the ball.
Gambhir then joined hands with MS Dhoni for a mammoth partnership, and set the stage for what was the first ever 250+ run chase in the final of a World Cup. Indian fans would've definitely shuddered to see a scorecard that read 68/3 with Sachin Tendulkar, Virender Sehwag and Gambhir back in the hut, had Kulasekara taken the catch.
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