Saturday, April 28, 2007

Cricket Tales- Memorable cricket matches

Here’s another set of (my) memorable cricket matches:

1. Jan 1983 World Series Cup - England v New Zealand- The Best run Chase of the time

It was still early days of flood light cricket and coloured clothing. The 1982-83 WSC – Aus, Eng and NZ- featured some big names and big matches. The one I liked best was the England New Zealand clash at the Adelaide Oval.

It was David Gower’s best one day tournament and he seemed to be in magical touch through the tournament. England had other big names as well - Ian Botham, Bob Willis, Derek Randall (batting beautifully) and a young Allan Lamb.

NZ had biggies in Hadlee, big hitting Cairns, Coney, economical Chatfield and solid openers in Wright and Edgar. Aus had Chappell, Hughes, Border and Hookes in batting and Rodney Hogg and Lawson leading the attack joined by Lillee in the later half of the series.

While the WSC of 1983 had several highlights, it had its low moments too…The one I still remember was Dennis Lillee’s open on field rift with Kim Hughes (who had displaced Greg Chappell as captain) on a field placing issue. Lillee was booed by the Aussie crowd as he came into bowl…quite a sight in Australian cricket.

(While we in India know the Bombay vs South politics in cricket, this one involving Lillee was particularly interesting...Lillee had formed a nice combination with Marsh and his first slipper and captain Greg Chappell and with Kim Hughes replacing Chappell as the captain, Lillee did not take it well.)

David Gower once again scored a century to take England close to 300 after Ian Botham, opening the innings, had made a better than run a ball half century. While these days chasing 300+ is a normal happening, this chase at the Adelaide Oval was one of the best big chases of that time and still remains one of my favourite one day matches.

The short square boundaries suited Richard Hadlee as he took NZ to victory(297/6) with a sparkling 79 (one of Hadlee’s best one day innings), after Lance Cairns (known for his big hitting) had taken apart the English attack with a rapid 49 off 20 odd balls.

Later that series, in fact in the 2nd final, Lance Cairns once again displayed his big hitting with a half century that included six sixers.

2. 1984 Port of Spain, Trinidad - Border’s brilliant double – 98 NO and 100NO


It was Australia’s first overseas trip after the retirement of GS, DK Lillee and Rodney Marsh ( all at one time). And what a difficult one at that. After drawing the first test, the Aussies went to POS with some hope and confidence.

Deano (Dean Jones) in his debut innings made 48 but it was AB’s(Allan Border) unbeaten 98 that took Australia past the 250 mark, after being 5 down for less than 100 at one stage. Windies took a 200 run lead with Jeffery Dujon once again dazzling against Australia with an elegant century (Remember Dujon had struck successive 40s in his debut series 3 years ago in Australia, playing as a batsman (not keeper))

Behind by over 200 runs, Aussie top order failed once again and it looked, on day 5, like WI would take 1-0 lead in the series . Australia had collapsed to 160/7 in the afternoon session. And when Terry Alderman( a close contender for permanent No. 11 with Walsh) joined AB at 9/240, it seemed like it would be a matter of time.

Just 15months ago, AB had been in some sort of a similar situation and lost. Border, in the company of Jeff Thomson, had battled against the English attack for over 2 hours, on 4th evening and 5th day morning, in a 10th wicket stand that almost won the Boxing Day Ashes Test Match of 1982 (till Miller via Tavera pulled off a spectacular catch at 2nd slip to secure England the win that day). But this time Border pulled off a draw….an unbeaten 100 with the last pair fighting it out for 2 hours on the last evening.

It was a memorable test match for Border and one that I particularly enjoyed. It was possibly Allan Border’s two best test innings.

While Australia went on to lose that series, the gutsy and ‘fight to death’ approach of Border was already visible and later that decade, it was this fighting approach of Border led Australia that brought them on top of the world stage.

3. 1980 Aus v Pak Lahore Test on Radio Pak- Border's Two Unbeaten 150s in one test

Exactly 4 years before the above match, in March of 1980, Allan Border had played another brilliant double to save the 1980 Lahore test for Australia.

In an Australian team that had more prominent names, Chappell, Hughes, Marsh, Lillee and against a Pakistan attack that had Imran and Sarfraz at their best, it was Allan Border, just in his 2nd year of International cricket, who helped save face from another loss to Pakistan. Border helped Australia recover in each innings after Australia had collapsed to 150/4 in both.

This was particularly significant for Border as only a year back, at the MCG in 1979, Sarfraz Nawaz had triggered the most bizarre collapse in Test history by bowling Border just after he had reached his century (with Australia requiring just 75 runs for victory). And within the next half hour, Sarfraz had orchestrated a collapse that saw Australia lose 7 wkts for 5 runs to secure an unlikely win for Pakistan.

This time around, Border made sure that he would not lose his wicket and took Australia to safety. It was also Lillee’s only series in the Sub-Continent.

Border’s 150NO in each innings of the Lahore Test of 1979 was the first ever two innings unbeaten 150 in the same test by a batsman in Test History.


4. WSC 1991- Ind v WI WACA, Perth- A low scoring tie

On the bouncy WACA pitch, India was bowled out by Ambrose and co for 126. That afternoon, few gave India a chance. With the match turning interesting, evening India time, I was up there in my class at Vivekananda College listening to Radio Australia.

Indians had WI on the ropes at 75/8 but Ambrose and Cummins brought WI back into the match with a good 9th wicket stand. In a clever use of bowlers, Indians had bowled out the four main bowlers ( 10 overs each) in the first 40 overs.

With 10 overs to go, Sachin was brought on as the 5th bowler and in his first over, he had Anderson Cummins edging low to Azhar at 2nd slip. And the match was tied. A tremendous comeback by India, taking one’s memories back 7 years to the match in Sharjah when India came back strong after being bowled out for 125 by Imran led Pakistan.

By the time this match ended, I even had my Income Tax lecturer interested in the match and listening to the broadcast.

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