Reverse Swing – Square Drive

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By Agnel Pereira – Bahrain


[Agnel Pereira is an active cricketer and a cricket enthusiast, among a few of his other interests and professional life as a chartered accountant. He currently plays in the Bahrain Cricket League. In this column, which will run till the end of the forthcoming World Cup in the Caribbean Islands, he proposes to delightfully bring back some past memories of previous World Cups and seeks to analyse different cricketing aspects covering cricket’s past, present and future as well as about what’s in store at the ?Calypso’ event this month]


The game of cricket is stated to have originated in the 16th century and became popular in the 17th century as it was used as a great gambling opportunity. What a shame then that the game got embroiled in utter chaos at the fag end of the 20th century for match fixing reasons! The World Cup will not be away from such limelight, with the Marlon Samuels issue threatening to create flutters.


One Day International cricket, or ODIs as it is easily called, can owe its origin to rain! Just as rain brings new crop, it brought a new variety to the game of cricket. Going back in history, one unconfirmed story states that the game of snooker was invented by the British when a cricket match had rained off, in some Indian town. Not surprisingly therefore, the first ever ?international’ one day match also took place in similar circumstances ? when the first 4 days of an Ashes test match had rained off, England and Australia decided to play a 40 over per side game with 8-ball-overs at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on 14 December.


The First World Cup 1975:


From then to the 1975 world cup, only 17 more matches were played, but still convinced the International Cricket Council to hold a world cup for cricket! 8 teams participated in the inaugural world cup ? 6 Test playing nations joined by Sri Lanka and East Africa as the other recognized entities in cricket. West Indies lifted the inaugural cup when it defeated Australia, with Clive Lloyd scoring a century. For Indians though, this world cup is famous for many strange things ? good and bad! In fact and in contrast, this year, Indian Hockey team won its only World Cup Hockey title ever!


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Sunil Gavaskar, considered as a tactful but Test match class cricketer, achieved an average of over 100 runs in this world cup! But not without a blemish that will haunt the little master and every Indian for lifetime! Against England, he scored 36 not out, playing out all the 60 overs, facing 174 balls. India scored only 132 for 3 in all the 60 overs! For those who follow cricket closely, they will know what this means. This clearly appeared to be a deliberate attempt by Mumbai’s cricketing great ? either deliberately knowing that the target of 332 set by England too much to achieve, or the captaincy of south Indian S. Venkatraghavan was too hard to digest. Whatever the reason be, he still holds that dubious record which will always be referred along with all the heroics that Sunny achieved in his lifetime, including a faster than run-a-ball century in his last ODI, against New Zealand.


Then, against the minnows East Africa, he scored 65 not out, where India won by 10 wickets. He was out for 12 in the last match against the West Indies, thereby achieving an average of 113!


[For the uninitiated and relative newcomers to cricket, please note: Average is computed by dividing the runs scored by the no. of innings in which the batsman was out]


In this world cup, India’s Bishan Singh Bedi bowled the most economic over ever to be bowled in ODIs till date with a bowling analysis of 12 overs 8 maidens 6 runs and one wicket (this record holds for a 12 over bowling analysis in a 60 overs per side matches).


1979 World Cup:


In the second edition in 1979, while West Indies stayed consistent to their form and reputation retaining its crown, the time was eventful for cricket. With the controversial Kerry Packer series dividing the world into two, some famous cricketers were missing from official action and that led the previous runner up Australia to lose in the league stage itself. Australia was the largest loser with several of its famous players, including the current Indian coach Greg Chappell, opting to play for Packer’s Series. Today’s cricketing world is using all the innovations that Kerry Packer brought to revitalize world cricket ? white balls, cricket under lights, coloured clothing and all.


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For India, story was not much different ? to be frank, was more tragic. India, once again under the captaincy of Venkatraghavan, lost all its 3 matches, including to Sri Lanka.


Canada made their debut at this world cup, in place of East Africa (currently the areas covering Zimbabwe, Kenya etc).


The Magic moment – World Cup 1983


As I write this and as you will read soon, all of us will feel that pride in our hearts, thrill to behold and a shrill through our veins. I know it’s a hair-raising moment, magical for every Indian.


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Before telling you that story, let us remember what India did in 1975 and 1979 and what condition India was at the time of the 3rd World Cup. India had just completed a stage in which Mr Sunil Manohar Gavaskar had completed his first stint as captain and handed over the captaincy to one Mr Kapildev Nikhanj all of just 24 years, during the West Indies tour that year. The most memorable thing that had happened to India during that series against the defending World Champions was that India had pulled off a memorable victory at Berbice in which the ?little master’ scored a patient 90 and Kapildev had hit a belligerent 73 which helped India to pile up 282 runs in 47 overs, a record at that time. Perhaps the confidence gained in this match served well for this Indian team.


This world cup for the first time introduced two rounds of matches at league stage. And from the erstwhile combined East Africa team emerged one single entity Zimbabwe which made its debut under the captaincy of Duncan Fletcher, the current England coach. Apart from India’s heroics, one other thing that will be remembered in this World Cup is Zimbabwe’s heroic performance, beating the formidable Australia at the league stage (which obviously helped India’s entry to semi finals) and making India sweat profusely only to be saved by one great man of Indian cricket. More on that a little later.


However, before the world cup started, India lost both its practice matches, one against Sri Lanka and another against, can you believe it, to the lowest rated Minor Counties team! In this background, there was nothing one could expect from this team of bits & pieces men with two superstars in Gavaskar and Kapildev.


But what they did in the World cup was absolutely sensational. India started the world cup by their giant-killing victory against the World Cup Champions West Indies ? aided by Yashpal Sharma’s superb batting, Binny & Shastri’s splendid bowling and an all round display of grit and determination.


While India defeated Zimbabwe easily in their first match, it lost its way by losing to Australia (with Greg’s younger brother Trevor Chappell scoring a century) and then to the West Indies. And then this match took place, in a sleepy little town in Kent, called Tun Bridge Wells. A match that was not covered by BBC due to the staff strike, Zimbabwe derailed India and started stripping them, by taking 5 wickets for only 17 runs! Gavaskar, Srikanth, Amarnath, Yashpal and Patil all were back in the pavilion. And one happy-go-lucky man, Kapildev then went hammer and tongs, helping himself to the then world cup record of 175 not out, with the help of the tail ? dependable wicket keeper Kirmani and two hardworking allrounders Roger Binny and Madanlal. India not only won that match (once again Kapil chipping in with his useful bowling), India went on to beat Australia in the second league match with some superb bowling by Binny and Madanlal and reached semifinals.


Just when England was discussing about the Final which they would play against West Indies, India stopped them in their complacent tracks through some great performance from ?Jimmy’ Amarnath, Yashpal and Sandeep Patil. And then it took place, perhaps the greatest moment in Indian sporting history. Never comparable to that Hockey World cup in 1975 which was obvious anyway with India’s dominance in Hockey that time.


Just like England was underestimating India’s ability before the semifinals, West Indies had started celebrating their third World Cup victory before even the Final had begun! In fact, during the lunch break after India had scored only 183, West Indies was apparently discussing how they will celebrate their hattrick of World Cup wins that evening! Cricket is a great leveler they say ? and it proved out to be for the superbly arrogant West Indies team. It will take pages to relive each moment in that match ? just a quick recall for the connoisseurs of the game ? Srikanth’s ?kneed’ cover drive, Balwinder Sandhu’s great incutter for which Greenidge shouldered arm, Kirmani’s catch to dismiss Haynes, that great catch by Kapildev to dismiss Richards, those key wickets by Jimmy at the end, especially that moment of despair in Jeff Dujon’s face after he had played on to a Jimmy ?dibbly-dobbly’ would all stay etched in our memory forever. Well could that ear-to-ear grin of a young new captain with the Prudential Cup be ever forgotten?


Well this World Cup started the decline of the cricket super power West Indies which did very little to retain its fearsome reputation thereafter, barring some odd successes. It also was the time for exit from international cricket for some of the greatest cricketers the world had seen, including the fearsome quartet of fast bowlers of West Indies, the dangerous bowling pair of Lillee and Thomson of Australia and the Chappell brothers.


1987 Reliance World Cup


Fuelled by that great victory of India 4 years ago, the World Cup event traveled to the sub continent with India and Pakistan co-hosting the World Cup. As it happened in 1983 (when West Indies lost its first match to the eventual winner India), the defending champions  India suffered a 1 run defeat against the eventual winners Australia!


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This event was a crowning glory for Allan Border’s reviving Australians, because Border had just managed to rebuild the team that lost its cream (Chappell, Lillee, Thomson, Rod March et al) in the previous 4 years. But the farce of it all concerned the two bitter enemies ? and amusingly the co-hosts; Each country celebrated the defeats of the other country!!! With crackers of course! When Pakistan lost to Australia the previous day, streets of Bombay were celebrating as if India had won the cup. It only needed one day for this One Day Competition for a leveling experience! The next day, it was the turn of Lahore and Karachi to celebrate India’s failure to reach finals! And Australia and England played the finals, in which the England captain ?reverse-swept’ its fortunes into the hands of Australia. That was the boost Australia needed, to go on and dominate world cricket, which it still continues today.


1992 World Cup


A world cup without a name! That is what happened in 1992. And, as had happened in 1987, the world cup event traveled to the winner of the previous world cup. Australia it was, who successfully hosted the event along with New Zealand (emulating the feat of India and Pakistan in 1987). Nine teams participated, with Zimbabwe being the only non-Test playing nation to join the 8 Test playing countries. Till then no host team had won the cup, but the early tournament form of New Zealand indicated that it might make this record. They slipped narrowly, due to some belligerent hitting by a newcomer named Inzamam Ul Haq. Strange things happen in cricket and this world cup was no exception!


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First of all, the format was again revised, with all 9 teams put in a round robin league (each team playing other 8 teams in the league) with top 4 teams to qualify for semifinals. Coloured clothings, names on the back, day-night cricket, two white balls per innings, revised field restrictions in first 15 overs ? all these new rules were introduced in a World Cup for the first time.


Strangely, none of the 3 World Cup winners, Australia, West Indies and India, qualify for semifinals! New Zealand won all its 7 league matches and despite being the leader in terms of number of wins, the Kiwis bowed out to a resurgent Pakistan in the semi finals. Pakistan was earlier been humbled by the West Indies by 10 wickets, by New Zealand and India and was miserably placed being 74 all out against England when rain interfered abandoning the match (and sharing valuable points!). That one point eliminated Australia, with a better run rate, from the semi final lineup.


Captain Imran Khan, batting stalwarts Miandad and Rameez Raja, new comer Inzamam Ul Haq, allrounder Wasim Akram and spinner Mushtaq Ahmed all played a major role in both semifinals and finals. In fact, Inzamam was responsible for a great victory in the semis, blasting a 37 ball 60 to chase a big target against the Kiwis.


Painfully, the new rain-rule robbed South Africa, the first time semifinalist (playing first world cup as they missed previous events due to their separation caused by apartheid policies) from a possible chance to try for a win. Before the rains started, the Springboks needed 22 runs in 13 balls, but with two least scored overs were removed (as per the rule), the revised target came to 22 runs from 1 ball!!! What a pity that a game of cricket, with a reputation of being played over 5 days, and being now played under lights anyway, could not be extended by just 10 minutes required to complete the full quota of overs, just because of some silly rule!! Real shame after all!


India did not do anything worthwhile. Lost a close match to England, lost to Australia yet again by a solitary run, the match against Sri Lanka was abandoned due to rain. All that India managed was to beat the ultimate winners Pakistan and Zimbabwe. Minnows Zimbabwe caused another upset, this time by defeating the fellow finalists, England in the league encounter.


1996 world cup with 3 hosts!


And yet again, the event traveled to the place of winners! But Pakistan had to do a little more to gain acceptance at the ICC and therefore roped in Sri Lanka in addition to India to host the Wills World Cup ? you will notice that the sponsor’s name was prefixed to the World Cup again. The number of teams increased to 12, with Kenya, the Netherlands and the United Arab Emirates qualifying (through a separate ICC tournament) to join the 9 test playing nations. Teams were divided into 2 groups again, and this time, quarter finals were introduced.


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Sri Lanka used the new infield fielder restriction rule to its full advantage, taking the game of cricket to the strategy boards and promoted middle order left arm spinning allrounder Sanath Jayasuriya and the ?over-the-infield’ hitting wicket keeper Romesh Kaluwitharana to open the innings. They both slogged early and captain Ranatunga and dependable Aravinda De Silva held the middle order together to take Sri Lanka to the only Host country victory at the World Cup.


In addition to this, all of Sri Lanka’s matches were played in Sri Lanka and by refusing to play in a trouble torn Sri Lanka, Australia and West Indies were docked off their points. Sri Lanka faced co-hosts India in the semis, who had trampled Pakistan’s hopes on a tense evening at Bangalore in the quarter finals, on a deteriorating pitch and Murali’s magic was too much for India to stand up against. They folded up, Vinod Kambli shed tears, Calcutta witnessed a night of shame for cricket (through crowd trouble) and the World Cup hopes vanished into thin air for the Indians.


Sri Lanka easily overcame Aussie challenge at Lahore, thereby avenging the humiliation of Australia withdrawing from their league match in Sri Lanka.


1999 World Cup returns home


After traveling the world with the World Cup winners, the event returned to Cricket’s home, England. Though the number of teams remained 12, for the first time the super league was introduced. The teams were divided into two groups of 6 each and three from each group would qualify for the super Six. The teams which have qualified will take their points and result of the league matches with other qualifying teams from the group through to the super Six but will not play against those teams from their own groups. Why I am mentioning this here, is because, this rule created some trouble to some teams for their poor performance in the league stage. One of them was India, which had lost to Zimbabwe and South Africa in the league stage, and despite having the best net run rate, it carried no points to the super Six since Zimbabwe and South Africa qualified. Similar was the condition of Australia in their group, where it lost to Pakistan and New Zealand, both of whom qualified with Australia!


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Both Australia and India were at the bottom of the table when the Super Six league commenced, but while Australia won all its 3 remaining matches, India managed only one. True champions perform when they have their backs to the wall. India won just one of the 3 matches it played in the super six, not sufficient to beat the teams that were already ahead on points. Australia ended up second behind Pakistan on the Super Six table, completed by South Africa and New Zealand.


Funnily enough, South Africa suffered the heaviest damage and as was their reputation, they choked badly at the super six stage. When they were cruising to victory set up by a superb century by Herschelle Gibbs, the star batsman spilled a catch off Steve Waugh trying to celebrate before catching! Steve Waugh, who went on to score a match winning century, apparently had told Gibbs: "Man, you have just dropped the World Cup". Indeed that was to be, because that victory of Australia helped them in semifinals, where both teams playing again, tied the match through a silly run out by Allan Donald, going for an impossible winning run, leaving Lance Klusener stranded at the other end! The result of the previous match is considered in case of a tie and so South Africa went out, sending Australia to the Finals. On the other side, Pakistan had steam-rolled New Zealand out of the world cup in the semi finals, but Pakistan came a cropper against Australia, bowled out for the lowest total in a World Cup Finals. So it was Australia which won its second world cup (after its triumph in 1987), matching the record of West Indies (1975 & 1979).


The major result of the world cup was of course Bangladesh defeating Pakistan.


2003 World Cup in South Africa 


The prodigals had returned to the international cricketing arena creating waves, not enough to disrupt life for others. Each time they performed well, they flattered to deceive. In their first world cup in 1991-92 Down Under, they were undone by a crazy rain-rule (refer previous section), in 1996 world cup, they had managed to win all 5 league matches only to be knocked out by a Lara special innings in the quarter finals and in the 1999 world cup, Gibbs "dropped world cup" and Allan Donald’s infamous run(out) for elusive victory all had confirmed their tag as chokers. So, then what better than giving that country a chance to host the world cup? Like the two events in the sub continent in 1987 and 1996 and the one in Down Under in 1991-92, South Africa co hosted this world cup with Zimbabwe, with Kenya getting two matches.


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14 teams participated in this event ? 10 test playing nations joined by Kenya, Namibia, Netherlands and Canada.


India performed creditably throughout the two early phases, losing only to Australia in the league and later in the finals. They had an easy outing against the lowly ranked Kenya in the semifinals, but Kenya, with Indian Sandeep Patil as the coach, had done enough to elevate themselves to a pride position on the cricketing tables by reaching this far. They had won a forfeit from New Zealand which refused to play in Kenya and had defeated all but India and Australia in the league. A critical record for India of course was that it had defeated Pakistan in every match in 4 world cups! Even when Pakistan won the cup in 1992, it had lost to India.


The hype and expectation of India winning the cup was too much for them to handle. And then the belligerent onslaught by Ricky Ponting was hard to digest. India gave it a good fight, but a total of 359 was no way near achievement against a formidable bowling line up. Indian new ball bowlers, Zaheer, Srinath and Nehra, who had bowled creditably throughout the world cup, went for 211 runs in their 27 overs at a run rate of over 7 runs! One more opportunity had gone begging and perhaps that was the best chance India had ? with its 4 batsmen (Ganguly, Tendulkar, Sehwag and Dravid), two young guns (Kaif and Yuvraj) and 4 bowlers (Zaheer, Nehra, Srinath & Harbhajan) in great form. Perhaps it missed a winning link, that was Anil Kumble who was surprisingly dropped from the world cup! Now back in the team, is it too late for the ageing Indians? Lets wait and see.


Till then, enjoy some Calypso music, nice beach fronts, bright coloured suits and some exciting food and drinks. Even if you are not in the Caribbean, you can recreate that ambience at your own homes!


Whats in store for 2007 world cup?


Watch out in the next part to be published at the start of the world cup

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