Most of us are aware of the simple ripple-effect theory- a concept that explains to us how altering the flow of one tiny event/action can change the lives of millions, and change the path towards the future. It could also be called parallel reality, and we’ve watched many films about the same- about how characters need to time travel in order to change the past, and in turn the present and the future.
‘1999 World Cup Semifinal- SA vs Aus’
What if a rat distracted the gunman from his position when he was ready to shoot John Lennon that fateful morning? What if the dust generated by a playing kid near Godse made him sneeze while aiming at Mahatma Gandhi? The repercussions are entirely hypothetical, but infinite. The possibilities are endless, and one can only theorize and imagine the aftereffects (or lack of it).
Similarly, the area of sport throws up some of the most interesting situations. The hit-and-miss nature of a sport makes it susceptible to several ‘what if’ moments over the years. The repercussions would not only be limited to the sport, but to the lives of thousands after that, affected by that single historical moment.
Let us take, for example, in World Cricket- the most famous instance:
What if Adam Gilchrist had fumbled to collect the ball while trying to run out Alan Donald in the ’99 World Cup semifinal? Or what if Gibbs had held onto that catch? World Cricket, as we know it, would have been eons away from what it is right now. To list some of the changes-
1. South Africa, in all probability, would have gone on to win the World Cup, beating Pakistan in the final.
2. The Choker tag would have never been invented, which in turn wouldn’t have resulted in the ’03 World Cup mathematical error for South Africa. They’d have been defending World Champions, at Home.
3. Graeme Smith wouldn’t have been thrown into the deep so early, and logically, never have been the force he is now.
4. Steve Waugh would have retired much earlier than he did, and not be the gritty legend that he is known as now. Ponting would have taken over earlier than normal, a move that could have altered his entire career if he had failed early.
‘The infamous drop in the previous match, which Australia needed to win to qualify’
5. The Australian Cricket team would not have been the Invincibles for a decade after that. A ’99 Semi-final loss would have destroyed their comeback to the top, and they could still be searching for their first WC victory since ’87.
6. VVS Laxman would never be the great name that he is now, without a strong Australian team.
7. The match-fixing scandal may not have broken, with SA as Champions, and Hansie Cronje and Azhar would have had full careers. Cronje, today, would have been alive. Fixing may never have been detected altogether. In turn, Ganguly may never have come into power, and the 2003 World Cup run may not have happened. If Pakistan had won ’99, the fixing scandal may have happened earlier than usual.
8. Lance Klusener would have been South Africa’s greatest ODI player.
9. South Africa could have won atleast one more World Cup after that, not going down to Australia in ’07, or NZ in ’11.
10. With Ganguly coming in later as captain, or maybe never, Dhoni may never have broken into the squad in ’05. In turn, the ’07 T20 World Cup win wouldn’t happen. And IPL wouldn’t exist. Suresh Raina would never exist, either. Dravid would still be playing ODI cricket. Amol Muzumdar could have broken into the Test team, finally.
11. Ten fans would not have killed themselves, or failed their board exams after the ’03 World Cup loss, because India would never have reached the final. In turn, they’d have affected thousands of lives.
12. Australia would not have raised the standards and skills of International Cricket, but South Africa could have. In turn, India would be a better fielding team, with better bowlers blooded to tour.
13. Eden Gardens ’01 may not have happened, with VVS still struggling to break into the test team under Azhar. Australia wouldn’t have entered the series on a record test winning streak either.
14. The management would choose Kumble as captain before Ganguly. And 2003 would never have happened, under Kumble. Nobody would know the amount of chest hair on Ganguly either, without the Lords win in 2002.
15. Greg Chappell may never have happened. 2007 could have been a successful campaign with Ganguly as captain. Or better, with Dhoni as debutant captain. Yuvraj Singh wouldn’t be the great limited-overs player he is today, without Ganguly to back him.
16. Michael Clarke would still be with Lara Bingle.
17. The golden quartet of Australian cricket may never have existed without a ’99 Win. Shane Warne could have been next Captain. Ponting would have to wait his turn, as would Clarke.
18. Darren Lehmann would never play another international game.
19. Gary Kirsten would never have coached Team India. He’d still be playing domestic cricket.
20. Sri Lanka could have actually won the ’07 World Cup. Which, in turn, would mean the end of Test Cricket as we know it.
21. Gibbs wouldn’t have had drinking problems after ’99, and Cronje would have torn apart Muralitharan for years to come. Murali would have been called for throwing twice over in Australia again, ending his career prematurely.
‘The shirtless Lord may never have ruled’
22. Bob Woolmer would have not been coach to Pakistan in ’07, and could still be alive. Chappell, meanwhile, would not be as lucky. 23. Jacques Kallis would have been regarded as the greatest cricketer of his generation, from a World Cup Winning team. As he should be, even today.
24. Lalit Modi would be running the ICL instead.
25. Sachin Tendulkar would still be playing.