The 1990s.

It was the time when most of the national teams really blossomed. The gap between them was minimal when compared to now or before the 90s. It led to a lot of close contests, and one-sided contests were very rare.

Teams like AustraliaEnglandIndiaNew ZealandPakistan and West Indies were already quite good. But it was also the era when a few other teams also upped their playing standards.

South Africa made their official comeback to international cricket in the 1991-92 season. They already had a good side. They proved it by winning the 1998 ICC Champions Trophy, and since then have maintained their top notch quality. They had players like Keppler Wessels, Dave Richardson, Daryll Cullinan, Nicky Boje, Jacques Kallis, Mark Boucher, Neil McKenzie, Boeta Dipenaar, Lance Klusener, Gary Kirsten, Shaun Pollock, Jonty Rhodes, Allan Donald, Makhaya Ntini, Hansie Cronje and Herschelle Gibbs in the 90s.

Sri Lanka were granted Test status in 1982. It took them only 17 years to go from “minnows” in the 1979 World Cup to win the 1996 World Cup. They had players like Arjuna Ranatunga, Chaminda Vaas, Marvan Atapattu, Aravinda de Silva, Roshan Mahanama, Hashan Tilikaratne, Sanath Jayasuriya, Romesh Kaluwitharana, Upul Chandana and Muttiah Muralitharan.

Bangladesh showed steady improvement throughout the decade, which culminated in them being granted Test status in 2000. Players like Mohammad Ashraful, Khaled Mashud, Mashrafe Mortaza, Khaled Mahmud, Alok Kapali, Shahriar Nafees and Mushfiqur Rahim shined.

Zimbabwe were granted Test status in 1992. We saw their golden era between 1997-2002, when players like Andy Flower, Grant Flower, Andy Blignaut, Heath Streak, Murray Goodwin, Alistair Campbell, Paul Strang, Bryan Strang, Neil Johnson, Andy Whittal, Guy Whittal, Mpumelelo Mbangwa and Henry Olonga set the international stage on fire.

Kenya was another team that shined in the 90s. From being a part of East Africa that played in the 1979 World Cup to hosting the 2000 ICC Champions Trophy and eventually making it to the World Cup Semifinals in 2003, they were one of the exciting teams from Africa. Thomas Odoyo, Steve Tikolo, Hitesh Modi, Maurice Odumbe, Martin Suji, Tony Suji, Ravindu Shah, Kennedy Otieno, Peter Ongondo, Collins Obuya, David Obuya and Joseph Angara were some of their best ODI cricketers.

CanadaIrelandNamibiaNetherlandsScotland and UAE were some of the other sides that also caught the cricketing world’s attention in the 90s.

In fact, if you take a look at all the ICC World Cups, the 1999 edition held in England remains one of the most closely contested World Cups in cricket history. There were no pushovers, no easy victories. Nearly all the games were exciting contests.

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