Tuesday, 3 February 2015

1983 Cricket World Cup: Best performances

There were a number of memorable displays at the 1983 World Cup, during a tournament in England and Wales that saw the West Indian champions finally toppled. This week I am looking back at some of the key performances during the tournament, covering the story of an inspired Zimbabwean, an unlikely West Indian hero, struggles for Sri Lanka, an inspired Indian skipper breathing life into his team, and the subsequent successes of India's seamers who took their team all the way to the ultimate prize.

Duncan Fletcher: ZIMBABWE v Australia, June 9, Trent Bridge

What was it with Duncan Fletcher annoying Australians at Trent Bridge? In 2005 the mere sight of the England coach sitting smugly on the balcony was the final straw that seemingly broke Ricky Ponting's back. Twenty-two years before, the actions of the Zimbabwean on the field embarrassed Australia, and did little to help the position of an Australian skipper struggling to keep his ship in order.

Zimbabwe were hardly expected to cause any sleepness nights to Group B rivals Australia, India and the West Indies, even if the World Cup debutants had defeated Pakistan in a warm-up match. Reduced to 94/5 at lunch - Andy Pycroft twice faced hat trick deliveries in the morning session - Zimbabwe's first World Cup match appeared to be going as expected, until Fletcher played a captain's innings to keep his side afloat.

Putting on 70 with Kevin Curran and 75 with Iain Butchart, Fletcher's undefeated 69 from 84 balls saw Zimbabwe post 239/8 from their 60 overs, meaning Australia needed to score at exactly four an over to open their campaign with a simple victory. But Fletcher wasn't finished. Taking 4/42 with his medium pacers, the Zimbabwean captain reduced Australia to 133/4, and aided by an economical spell of off-spin by John Traicos (12-2-27-0), steadily the run-rate required increased. Despite a late burst from Rod Marsh, amazingly Australia would end up 13 runs short of their target.

"It says something that a game in which you got a golden duck and didn't take a catch still rates as one of your favourite days of cricket. That's how special it was," said Zimbabwean wicketkeeper Dave Houghton in this Cricinfo article. Australia's tournament had started in the worst possible fashion, a team full of cliques and internal wranglings exposed by a united underdog. No prizes for guessing the man of the match.

Winston Davis: WEST INDIES v Australia, June 12, Headingley

The West Indies started their 1983 World Cup as they would end, a defeat against India indicating that the two-time World Champions were not quite as invincible as the pundits would have us believe. The 34 run defeat and fitness concerns over Malcolm Marshall and Joel Garner saw a 24-year-old Winward Islander called up for just his second match, a man in the squad mainly due to the fact that Colin Croft and Sylvester Clarke had decided to participate in the rebel tour to South Africa. Circumstances and a very friendly Headingley pitch combined to make this a memorable day for Winston Davis.

Bad weather forced the match into a reserve day, with the West Indies recovering from 154/5 to post a competitive 252/9. The target turned out to be plenty. On a pitch described as lively by The Times, Michael Holding poleaxed opener Graeme Wood before Davis began his history making spell. Despite removing skipper Hughes, Davis' opening five overs disappeared for 35 runs, hardly suggesting that the paceman was about to run through the Australian batting line-up. But after dismissing Graham Yallop and David Hookes with the first and last deliveries of his sixth over, Davis was off and running.

Davis reaped the rewards of bowling line and length, taking World Cup best bowling figures of 7/51 (including a spell of 6/14 in 38 balls) as Australia folded to a 101 run defeat. Conditions helped of course, with both captains and umpires reporting the pitch, the lethal and variable bounce less than ideal when facing the fearsome West Indian attack. But Davis took advantage of this, and in only his second ODI he looked to have cemented his place in the team for the rest of the tournament.

"Winston Davis, West Indies' latest fast bowling discovery, last night sent a shiver of fear through every team in the Prudential World Cup," wrote the Daily Express' Pat Gibson in his match report. Alas Davis would fail to live up to his Headingley exploits, taking just 1/155 in his next four matches, and after the last group game he was dropped in favour of Andy Roberts. Yet his World Cup record stayed intact until 2003 (Glenn McGrath taking 7/15 against Namibia) and although he may have only had a brief starring role for the West Indies, Davis chose the right stage to have his moment in the spotlight.

Bowlers v Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka didn't have the greatest of World Cups in 1983, although their win against New Zealand did go a long way to deciding which team would go through to the semi-finals as runners-up to England. However, before this highlight came a lot of trials and tribulations at the hands of bowling attacks up and down the country, as Sri Lanka struggled to cope not only with the seam friendly conditions they encountered but also against spin bowlers too.

First up was England's off spinner Vic Marks. Bowling on his home strip at Taunton, Marks spun his way to figures of 5/39, still a record for an English bowler in a World Cup, as he worked his way through a middle order using a variety of pace and flight (Graham Dilley also taking 4/45), although admittedly the Sri Lankans were going for their shots a little.

Things were looking slightly better against New Zealand in Sri Lanka's next match, with the team progressing to 144/3. That was until a certain Richard Hadlee turned the match upside down, with three wickets in as many overs, including Duleep Mendis and Arjuna Ranatunga in the space of four balls.

Hadlee's 5/25 saw Sri Lanka slump to 206 all out, setting up a five wicket victory and putting New Zealand above Pakistan in the group. Pakistan responded with their own win against the Sri Lankans, albeit in a much closer finish. Chasing 236 for a shock win, Sri Lanka reached 162/2 before leg spinner Abdul Qadir started to work his magic. Eight Sri Lankan wickets fell in 12 overs, Qadir's last four overs resulting in 4/16, his total of 5/44 helping to see Pakistan home by just 11 runs.

It wasn't all one way traffic though. Sri Lanka bounced back from their latest disappointment by surprising New Zealand at Derby, Ashantha de Mel doing his best Hadlee impression in taking 5/32 in a three-wicket triumph that would have disastrous consequences for the New Zealanders World Cup campaign.

Kapil Dev: INDIA v Zimbabwe, June 18, Tunbridge Wells

Now to the very definition of a match winning innings. Determined to prove that their success over Australia was no fluke, Zimbabwe reduced India to 17/5 at Tunbridge Wells, Peter Rawson and Kevin Curran slicing through the top order. Whilst all was crashing down around him, Indian skipper Kapil Dev stood in the middle contemplating a potentially damaging defeat for both his future and India's World Cup hopes.

Dev initially found an ally in Roger Binny, the pair adding 60 for the sixth wicket, but at 140/8 India were still firmly in the mire. Fortunately for India, Zimbabwe's change bowlers were not quite so daunting, allowing Dev and Syed Kirmani to put on a record 126 for the ninth wicket. Kirmani may have been overshadowed by the greatness taking place at the other end, but his unbeaten 24 was vital in providing Dev with the support he so desperately needed.

Dev's innings of 175 not out from just 138 balls may have sounded like a slog but it was anything but. Playing classical shots throughout, Dev reached three figures in the 49th over before he unleashed his full repertoire of attacking shots - 75 runs coming in the last eleven overs - with India reaching a barely believable 266/8. His strike rate of 126.81 belonged to a future era, as 16 fours and 6 sixes flowed from Dev's bat.

Crucially, Dev's blitz had given India hope. Zimbabwe put up a brave fight, finishing 31 runs short of their target, with Dev fittingly taking the last wicket of the match. Unsurprisingly Dev was awarded the man of the match, his innings proving not only a match changer, but possibly also the point from which the Indians believed that anything was possible.

India's bowlers

India clinched a place in the semi-finals by defeating a dispirited Australia at Chelmsford, their 118 run victory highlighting the growing importance of their seam attack as the tournament reached the business end. Australia had no answer to Roger Binny's medium pace, his opening spell of 3/6 in three overs leaving the innings in tatters at 52/4. Not to be outdone, Madan Lal took 4/20, although Binny's 4/29 and his demolition of the top order rightfully saw him given the man of the match award.

England were still expected to reach the final (certainly in the English press at least) yet momentum was building behind India as the semi-final at Old Trafford approached. Binny removed openers Graeme Fowler and Chris Tavare, but at 141/3 England were in a useful position, until a fine run out by Yashpal Sharma precipitated an England collapse 1980s style.

The innings stagnated, England tied in knots by the nagging medium pace of Mohinder Amarnath and clever off spin of Kirti Azad, with just three fours scored in the last 29 overs. England's final total of 213 (Dev 3/35, Binny 2/43) was woefully inadequate, Amarnath scoring 46 to go with his 2/27, as the Indian bandwagon rolled on.

The 66/1 pre-tournament outsiders (with the Tote) were now just one game away from becoming World Champions, but surely the adventure would come to an end in the final against the dominant West Indians? When India could only post 183, the writing appeared to be on the wall, even more so when the West Indians eased to 50/1 off eleven overs. And then the mayhem begun.

Whether it was misplaced arrogance on behalf of the defending champions or not, the subsequent collapse at the hands of India's seamers was one of those periods in sport where the force is truly with a team. Lal got the ball rolling, dismissing Desmond Haynes, Viv Richards (to a well judged Dev catch) and Larry Gomes, with the West Indies going to tea in a shocked state at 66/4.

Shortly afterwards, Binny removed Clive Lloyd and when Balwinder Sandhu dismissed Faoud Bacchus (earlier the same bowler had clean bowled Gordon Greenidge with a superb inswinger), the West Indies were 76/6 and the unthinkable started to become a reality. Jeff Dujon and Malcolm Marshall tried their best to stop the rot, but by the time Amarnath trapped Holding in front, the greatest upset had happened and the celebrations could begin.

India's 43 run win "captured the hearts of the cricket world" in the words of John Woodcock, their underdog tale a stirring occasion, with the first seeds of the Indian love affair regarding the one day game planted on that famous Saturday at Lord's. Amarnath's 3/12 saw him named man of the match, yet Lal's 3/31 and the calibre of the batsmen he dismissed would perhaps have been a better choice. But that is nit picking. India's under rated bowlers had delivered when it mattered, and the names of Binny, Amarnath and Lal will forever be remembered relating to the glory of 1983.

Honourable mentions

Yashpal Sharma's 89 against the West Indies in India's opening match; Ken MacLeay's 6/39 for Australia in their 162 run win over India; Hadlee excelling once more, taking 3/32 and contributing with a vital 31 from 45 balls as New Zealand inflicted England's first defeat of the tournament; a master blaster display from Viv Richards at Lord's, his 95 from 117 balls against Australia including 9 fours and 3 sixes; Zaheer Abbas' 103 not out for Pakistan in their eleven run win over New Zealand; Richards again in the semi-final against Pakistan.

There might not have been coloured clothing and white balls, with matches still contested over the relatively long 60 overs per innings, but I'm sure you will agree that there was enough star quality to keep cricket fans entertained during the 1983 World Cup.

No comments:

Post a Comment