With the 2019 edition of the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup set to begin in May, we look back at the most memorable moments from the tournament’s four-decade-long history. You can read the entire series here.

Moment No 24

Days after this edition of the Indian Premier League began, “Mankading” was at the heart of a heated debate as Kings XI Punjab captain Ravichandran Ashwin ran out Rajasthan Royals’ Jos Buttler at the non-striker’s end mid-bowling without a warning.

The incident sparked strong opinions from all sides, with Ashwin being slammed for violating the fabled spirit of the game by many prominent personalities in the cricket community even as others insisted that he was well within the law. The MCC itself swung from acceptance to censure, unsure of the finer points of the law. The family of Vinoo Mankad, who this mode of dismissal is named after, even asked for it to be called something else.

The questions were plenty: What is the right spirit of the game? If this is a valid form of dismissal, why is the spirit above the law? Why is it seen only from the batsmen’s perspective? Isn’t backing up to shorten the run also wrong?

But perhaps one of the reasons why Ashwin’s actions were seen through a certain lens was because cricket used to be a sport spoiled for choice when it came to sporting spirit. The old school believed that upholding the stature of the “gentlemen’s game” was as important, or perhaps even more, than winning.

This spirit has perhaps best been embodied by a certain Courtney Walsh, whose name trended on social media when Ashwin ran out Buttler. The pacer was ready to lose a crucial match rather than run out the non-striker who had backed up too much. In the now iconic moment, the West Indies fast bowler refused to run out Pakistan’s last batsman Saleem Jaffer with only two runs needed to win in a 1987 World Cup match at Lahore. In fact, his refusal to run out the non-striker ended up costing the two-time champions a place in the semi-finals and final for the first time in the then brief history of the World Cup.

Forty years after the infamous Vinoo Mankad-Bill Brown incident that gave the dismissal its name, the practice still hadn’t found wide acceptance in cricket. It could be argued that it still hasn’t, given the furore over Ashwin and Buttler.

But regardless of which side of the debate you stand on, Walsh’s decision to stop the run-up and give a warning off the last ball at the cost of victory will always be one of the game’s greatest moments.

A last over to remember

Imagine the scenario:

The West Indies team, who have played in all three World Cup finals so far – winning in 1975 and 1979 and losing to India in 1983 – have lost to England already and need to beat Pakistan at home.

This was a team led by Viv Richards and featuring Desmond Hayes, Patrick Patterson and Richie Richardson. They are facing a strong Pakistan line-up boasting of Imran Khan, Javed Miandad, Ijaz Ahmed, Abdul Qadir and Wasim Akram.

One was a team that was supposed to make the final again. The other is a team playing at home. Both teams started strong with the bat before the other team’s bowlers pulled the match back.

It took a 52-ball 51 from Viv Richards to power West Indies after Saleem Jaffer – who else? – had taken three wickets at the top. They were 169/4 when Imran Khan got the all-important wicket of Richards. It was a procession after that as West Indies were bowled out for 216. In response, half of Pakistan’s team was back in the hut at 110. But Saleem Yousuf kept them in the hunt with a 49-ball 56 along with captain Imran.

And then came Courtney Walsh – who had already taken two wickets – and dismissed both, taking West Indies almost to the doorstep of a win.

Earlier in the World Cup, Walsh had bowled an infamous last over against England where Allan Lamb had snatched an improbable win scoring 29 off Walsh’s final nine deliveries. Yet, his captain gave him the final over again, with 14 needed to win and the last pair at the crease.

Jaffar was the last man standing with Qadir: both nervy, lower-order batsmen facing a ferocious West Indian fast bowler. But it turned out to be a nightmare of an over for the bowling side.

With 12 needed of three balls, a catch was dropped and the ball went for a boundary. Then Abdul Qadir smacked Walsh for a six.

Two runs needed off the last ball.

Walsh ran in… Qadir squared up and Jaffer was poised to run. But the bowler stopped abruptly. Looked at the non-striker and warned him about being out of his crease. And went back to his mark. He ran in again, and the Pakistan batsmen scampered for two to win by one wicket. The crowd was jubilant.

That match in Lahore could have gone either way but it ultimately came down to the split second of decision-making and Walsh’s sense of fair play.

Talking about that call, Walsh recently said it was a consequence of his upbringing. “People still recognise and appreciate it. That was something I could not do because that is how I was brought up... I just could not do it without a warning. As a youngster, the spirit of the game meant a lot to me and because of the gesture and the way it has been appreciated, I think the after effect is a memory that will always be with me,” he told ICC in a recent video interview.

“The old cricketers all had great character and played positive cricket with integrity. If I had been at the other end, I would have done the same. The Pakistan government gave him [Walsh] a medal for his sportsman’s spirit,” Jaffer was quoted as saying by ESPNCricinfo.

The West Indian bowler would never win a World Cup, which remains among his biggest regrets. But he won a place in history books nonetheless, with the moment that is recalled more than 30 years later.