Bengaluru, Feb 7: England are the only side to have lost in three finals in the cricket World Cup in three decades and Graham Gooch is the only player to have featured in each of those sides. So can we say that Gooch, a batsman of repute, is the most unfortunate player in the 40-year history of the quadrennial tournament?
1979 final: Lost to West Indies by 92 runs
England first made the finals in the 1979 in their home ground to take on the mighty Caribbeans led by Clive Lloyd who hadn't lost a game in the two World Cups played so far.
The hosts, captained by Mike Brearly, won the toss and put the defending champions to bat. The Caribbeans scored 286 for the loss of 9 wickets in 60 overs with Vivian Richards hammering an unbeaten 138.
In reply, England had an impressive start with 129 for no loss. They lost openers Brearly and Geoff Boycott in quick succession but Gooch and Derek Randall held it together. They added 48 runs for the third wicket and once Gooch was castled by Joel Garner on 32, the English side collapsed like a pack of cards. From 183 for 2, England were all out for 194, losing the final by 92 runs.
Gooch's scores in this World Cup were 53 (vs Australia), 21* (vs Canada), 33 (vs Pakistan), 71 (vs New Zealand), 32 (vs West Indies)
1987 final: Lost to Australia by 7 runs
England again made the finals in 1987 when the World Cup was played in the Indian sub-continent for the first time. Their opponents Australia, led by Allan Border, won the toss and elected to bat at the Eden Gardens in Kolkata.
Powered by David Boon's 75, Australia posted 253 for the loss of 5 wickets in 50 overs. Both teams were chasing the unfulfilled dream of lifting the World Cup (Australia lost to the West Indies in the final of the 1975 edition) but Australia did it more successfully.
The fateful reverse sweep by English skipper Mike Gatting at a crucial moment of the match saw his team losing the way after a good start and England fell short of Australia's score by just 7 runs. Gooch scored 35 off 57 balls as an opener in that match.
However, although England lost in the final, Gooch's magnificent century that swept away (literally since Gooch kept on sweeping the spinners) defenders India in the semifinals remains a high point of that edition.
Gooch scored 47 (vs West Indies), 21 (vs Pakistan), 84 (vs Sri Lanka), 16 (vs Pakistan), 92 (vs West Indies), 61 (vs Sri Lanka), 115 (vs India), vs 35 (vs Australia) to finish as the highest scorer (471 runs) in the 1987 World Cup.
1992 final: Lost to Pakistan by 22 runs
England's third final came in the next World Cup held in Australia and New Zealand in 1992. This time led by Gooch, the English side, not the youngest, played quite well throughout the tournament and made the semifinals as the second best team after New Zealand. They won five matches, losing to favourites New Zealand who won almost all their matches and minnows Zimbabwe in a shocke of a game.
In the semifinal, luck favoured Gooch's side as the bizarre rain-rule of that tournament forced debutants South Africa face an impossible situation. In the final, England faced Pakistan who after an ordinary start, forced their way to the final with sheer determination.
Pakistan were shot out by England for a paltry score of 74 in the round-robin stage but yet the points were shared after rain disrupted the match.
In the final, Pakistani skipper Imran Khan won the toss and scored a 72 to propel his team to a formidable 249 for 6 wickets in 50 overs. Chasing the target to win the world title for the third time but first time under the lights, England made a shaky start and lost 4 wickets for 69 before Neil Fairbrother and Allan Lamb steadied the ship.
Gooch was the highest scorer in the 1987 World Cup with 471 runs
But two deadly back-to-back deliveries from Wasim Akram that got rid off Lamb and Chris Lewis saw England falling short of the target yet again. The side was all-out for 227, giving Pakistan their first World Cup title. Gooch had an ordinary outing this time, scoring 29 off 66 balls with just one boundary.
Gooch's scores in this World Cup were 51 (vs India), 65 (vs West Indies), 3 (vs Pakistan), 58 (vs Australia), 8 (vs Sri Lanka), 0 (vs Zimbabwe), 2 (vs South Africa), 29 (vs Pakistan).
Gooch has played 21 matches in four World Cups (between 1979 and 1992) and scored 897 runs in as many innings with an average of 44.85 and strike rate of 63.25. He has scored one century and eight fifties with the highest score of 115 registered against India in Mumbai in 1987.
Among the current generation of players, Sri Lanka's Mahela Jayawardena and Kumar Sangakkara and some others are close to Gooch with two losses in the World Cup final (2007 and 2011). But will they like to match the former England captain's unhappy record?