Tuesday, 17 February 2015

1987 Cricket World Cup: Best performances

Following on from my recent piece on the top performances at the 1983 World Cup, this week I am looking back at the 1987 tournament. Featuring a typical one day innings from Allan Lamb, a superb knock in a losing cause by Dave Houghton, some explosive hitting from Viv Richards, top semi-final displays from Craig McDermott and Graham Gooch, and a contribution in the final that perhaps should get a bit more credit than it deserves.

Allan Lamb: ENGLAND v West Indies, October 9, Gujranwala

English cricket supporters were familiar with last over heroics from Allan Lamb, the 18 runs he plundered from Bruce Reid's last over at the SCG still burnt into our retinas, yet the chances of lightning striking twice seemed pretty remote as Courtney Walsh prepared to bowl the 100th over of the West Indies-England match. For most of the day England had been requiring snookers, and with 13 runs required from the final six deliveries they needed either inspiration or a helping hand. They got both.

The West Indian total of 243/7 from their 50 overs (this was the first World Cup contested over this distance) seemed competitive, 84 runs coming from the last eight overs with Derek Pringle's figures of 10-0-83-0 looking particularly ugly. When England slumped to 131/6 in reply and then needed 91 runs from the last ten overs with only four wickets in hand, you would have been a very brave person to back Mike Gatting's team. But aided by cameos from John Emburey (22 from 15 balls, including a six off of Patrick Patterson) and Phil Defreitas (23 from 21), Allan Lamb managed to get the equation down to 35 required from three overs.

So far Courtney Walsh had enjoyed a good day in the field, dismissing Chris Broad and going for a reasonable 33 runs from his eight overs. But things were about to get messy. England scored 16 from Walsh's next over (15 from Lamb's bat) and then just six from Patterson's final over, meaning that 13 runs were now needed as Walsh prepared to run in. A two and a four from Walsh's first two balls gave England a fine start to the over, but it would be Walsh's next two deliveries that would determine the outcome. His first went for four wides, his next was a no ball from which England ran a single. When Neil Foster hit Walsh's next delivery for a four, England had won by two wickets, with Walsh's three legal deliveries going for 16 runs, and his last nine yielding 32.

Walsh's struggles should take nothing away from a stunning Lamb innings, achieved in the searing temperature of 100 degrees of Gujranwala. "I don't think I could have lasted another over," Lamb admitted after the match, as physio Laurie Brown had to help him from the field and also had to support him when he collected his man of the match award. England's World Cup campaign had got off to a flying start, although if there were many more tight finishes like their opening match, I'm not sure I would have had any finger nails left by the end of the group stages.

Dave Houghton: ZIMBABWE v New Zealand, October 10, Hyderabad

It takes a special performance to earn the man of the match award if the recipient ends up on the losing side, but that is exactly what Dave Houghton achieved during Zimbabwe's painful three run defeat to New Zealand. Having kept wicket during New Zealand's 242/7, Houghton was soon back out in the humid conditions in the middle, and despite moving past 60 it looked as if his efforts would be in vain. Zimbabwe collapsed to 104/7 and looked dead and buried.

At first Houghton and his partner Iain Butchart attempted to avoid complete embarrassment, building gradually before unleashing some more expansive shots, as bit by bit Zimbabwean confidence grew and worry began to spread to the New Zealanders. A 117-run partnership for the eighth wicket brought Zimbabwe right back into the match, yet by this stage Houghton had begun to suffer badly.

"I was losing water all the time, to the extent that I couldn't drink - it wouldn't go in any more - and I was dehydrated," Houghton confesses in this Cricinfo article. Houghton reached his century - receiving a kiss from a spectator in the process - by sweeping New Zealand's three spinners relentlessly, even using the much maligned reverse sweep on a number of occasions. But once dehydration and fatigue set, he decided that boundaries were the way forward, Houghton simply unable to drag his body from one end of the pitch to the other.

When Houghton fell to a great Martin Crowe catch close to the long-on boundary, Zimbabwe were 221/8 and within 22 runs of a famous victory. Sadly Eddo Brandes departed for a duck, and although Butchart and John Traicos took the game to the final over, the pair were involved in a run out mix-up, leaving the 250/1 tournament outsiders just four runs shy of their target. So near and yet so far.

The plaudits rightfully came the way of Houghton, who had scored 142 from 137 balls (13 fours and 6 sixes) in a losing cause. "Gallantry in defeat can be quickly forgotten, where romance comes a sad second to the clamour for success," wrote The Times' Alan Lee. "David Houghton's 142 for Zimbabwe on Saturday, however, deserves a longer memory. Unavailing though it was, this ranked as one of the greatest innings produced in the limited-overs games". Quite.

Viv Richards: WEST INDIES v Sri Lanka, October 13, Karachi

Sri Lanka would again struggle in the 1987 World Cup, and in their second group match would suffer at the free flowing hands of Viv Richards. Batting first, the West Indies amassed 360/4 from their 50 overs at a staggering 7.20 runs per over, with the Master Blaster the key man in inflicting a total that is still the seventh highest team innings in World Cup history.

Richards had actually arrived at the crease facing a hat trick, after Ravi Ratnayeke had removed Carlisle Best and Richie Richardson to reduce the West Indies to 45/2 in a match they could ill afford to slip up in due to their opening defeat to England. Steadily at first Richards and Desmond Haynes rebuilt the innings, Richards reaching his 50 off of 62 balls, but it would be when the great man passed his century that the fireworks began.

Richards and Haynes both reached hundreds, the pair sharing 182 runs in a third wicket partnership that blocked out any ray of hope the Sri Lankans possessed. Richard's century had come from 97 balls, not electric by today's standards but fairly rapid back in the 1980s. But his last 81 runs came from only 33 deliveries, as he truly opened his shoulders, scoring 16 fours and 7 sixes in total, with the West Indian skipper finally falling for 181, just eight runs short of his own ODI record scored against England in 1984.

The man who took the prized scalp of Richards certainly had to take a bit of punishment before his very brief moment of glory. Ashantha de Mel's figures of 10-0-97-1 highlighted the carnage going off out in the middle, with Ratnayeke also not escaping, his last two overs disappearing for 44. Sri Lanka limped to 169/4 in reply, probably too shell shocked to even contemplate chasing 361. It would be the last ever World Cup hundred for the legend of Richards, and his score has only be passed twice since in the history of the tournament (by Gary Kirsten in 1996 and Sourav Ganguly in 1999).

Craig McDermott: AUSTRALIA v Pakistan, November 4, Lahore

Australia were not fancied by many to win the 1987 World Cup - Allan Border's side a 12/1 shot with the bookies - but as the group stage progressed their momentum and confidence developed, especially after a couple of tight wins. A one run win over India in their opening match and a three run victory over New Zealand in a Thirty30 encounter were the type of narrow, squeaky bum time wins that make teams stronger, and this seemed to be the case with Australia as they made their way to the semi-finals.

The hero of their semi-final win over Pakistan was Craig McDermott, although Steve Waugh's contribution of 18 runs from the last over of Australia's innings proved important come the end of the match, his efforts helping his side reach 267/8. At 177/4 and with Javed Miandad and Wasim Akram taking the game away from Australia, McDermott struck a key blow, bowling Wasim to put the match back in the balance.

When Bruce Reid dismissed Miandad, the path was opened up for McDermott to polish things off, Saleem Yousuf, Saleem Jaffar and Tauseef Ahmed all caught behind by Greg Dyer as Australia won by 18 runs (Waugh's runs were crucial), to ruin the hopes of an all-Asian final. McDermott's 5/44 was the best bowling return of the 1987 World Cup, and would help him end the tournament as the leading wicket taker with 18 wickets.

Graham Gooch: ENGLAND v India, November 5, Mumbai

"In the nets the previous day a young lad who was bowling to me wondered why I used the sweep shot so much. Maybe he knows the answer now". So said Graham Gooch after his century had helped England set up an Anglo-Australian final, his innings dominated by the sweep shot, as he batted for all but 7.5 of the allocated overs. There may be a thin line between madness and genius, but if the young spinner had considered Gooch to be a little eccentric the day before then the importance of Gooch's knock would clarify the situation.

1987 had not been the greatest of years for the Essex man. After deciding to miss England's treble winning tour of Australia in 1986/87 due to family reasons, Gooch endured a horrible run at the start of the season, with six ducks in his first ten innings. During the season he would give up the Essex captaincy, would not play a Test for England, and only featured in one ODI during the English summer. "Last season was a bad time and I started to doubt myself," said Gooch. Fortunately by the time of the World Cup, Gooch had put any form concerns to one side.

Playing an innings in the semi-final at Mumbai described by John Woodock as "unruffled, well judged and lordly", Gooch's 115 was the rock on which England's 254/6 was built (in fact when Gooch was dismissed he had made 115 out of England's 203/4). "At the start of my innings a ball turned and kept low. So I decided to sweep and India were so long in changing the field," Gooch admitted, after picking up his third man of the match award in a row. After such a good World Cup, it was of little surprise that he would finish top run scorer in the competition.

Even with Gooch's knock it looked as if England would not make the final at one point. India required 87 from 16 overs with six wickets left, Kapil Dev and Mohammad Azharuddin batting the hosts into a strong position, and although Eddie Hemmings removed the former, India still moved to the stage where they only needed 51 from 54 balls with five wickets intact.

Hemmings struck again though, Azharuddin trapped lbw, triggering a dramatic collapse that saw India dismissed for 219. England had reached their second World Cup final and were seen as favourites against a team that they had beaten in the Perth Challenge, World Series Cup and Sharjah Cup the winter before. What could possibly go wrong?

Mike Veletta: AUSTRALIA v England, November 8, Kolkata

There were a few notable contributions during the 1987 World Cup final. Some good - David Boon's 75, Steve Waugh's 2/37. Some bad - Mike Gatting's reverse sweep immediately springs to mind. But I have selected an innings that possibly does not get the praise it deserves, a knock that is probably forgotten amongst all the talk of Australian revivals and questionable shot selection by the English captain. Mike Veletta's 45 not out may not sound spectacular, yet in the context of a close final, it was an innings that made the difference.

Veletta had only played five ODIs before the World Cup final, his first three matches bringing two ducks (including being run out first ball on his World Cup debut against New Zealand), the 24-year-old hardly hinting at what was to follow. Luckily for his own future and that of his country, Veletta began to turn things around. A 39-ball unbeaten 43 against Zimbabwe was followed by a vital 48 from 50 balls in the semi-final triumph over Pakistan, Australia well and truly ramming Zaheer Abbas' words down his own throat - Abbas had called the Australians "a bunch of club cricketers" - and setting up a final against the old enemy.

Australia won the toss, with Border electing to stick to a winning formula and batting first. At 168/4 after 39 overs the innings was in the balance as Veletta walked to the crease, but in the next ten overs he and Border established a partnership that would prove decisive. The 73-run stand saw Border contribute 31 from 33 balls until he was run out by Tim Robinson, yet Veletta carried on relentlessly. Finishing the innings on 45 not out from 31 balls, Veletta's rapid scoring, primarily off the spinners of Emburey and Hemmings, saw the Australian innings close on a very competitive 253/5.

England would fall an agonising seven runs short, Gatting's dismissal often seen as the moment the tide turned, yet without the late impetus provided by Veletta, Australia might not have had enough runs to defend, with or without Gatting's transgression. It may be a slightly forgotten World Cup final moment, but if someone as renowned as Steve Waugh described it as a "gem of a cameo" then that is good enough for me. Veletta would only play 20 ODIs for Australia, yet the value of his World Cup final innings should be remembered as a very important part in the history of Australian cricket.

Honourable mentions

Javed Miandad's 103 in the tournament opener against Sri Lanka; Geoff Marsh's 110 in Australia's one-run victory over India in the group stages; Abdul Qadir tormenting England once more, his 4/31 inspiring a collapse from 206/4 to 221 all out; Simon O'Donnell's 4/39 against Zimbabwe; Kapil Dev's undefeated 72 from 58 balls, allowing India to recover from 170/7 to eventually beat New Zealand by 16 runs.

Courtney Walsh's sporting gesture when he opted to warn Saleem Jaffar rather than 'Mankad' him, an act that won praise and brought scorn alike, with the West Indies losing off the final ball of the match; Manoj Prabhakar claiming 4/19 against Zimbabwe; Rameez Raja anchoring Pakistan's innings with a fine 113 in their win over England.

Jeff Crowe staying calm whilst all around him were failing, his 88 not out seeing New Zealand home in a narrow win over Zimbabwe; Geoff Marsh again excelling, scoring 126 out of Australia's 251/8 in their 17 run win over New Zealand; Richie Richardson's 110 against Pakistan; Sunil Gavaskar's 88 ball 103 not out against New Zealand in his penultimate ODI; Chetan Sharma's hat-trick in the same match.

With all these superb performances amongst the drama and entertainment, it's hardly surprising that I still have a soft spot for my first ever World Cup tournament.

1 comment:

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