Thursday, April 5, 2007

Memorable cricket matches on the Radio- 1985 and after

Cricket Tales- Part 3

1.India v England – WCC 1985- cut school to listen to LS bowling

I remember this day as I came in early from school ( half a day cut, one may call it) in Bangalore to listen to LS’ bowling on Radio Australia.(The Aussie commentators had a high opinion of LS- remember he had bowled well in India’s first match in the WCC against Pak. When I reached home, England were rather doing well in their reply with Gower in form. LS caused a collapse removing 3 top batsmen one after another. A match that afternoon which looked like going the full distance was suddenly cut short by LS who got David Gower and Lamb. In the earlier match he had got Zaheer Abbas. India won the match comfortably. The spin duo of Shastri and LS made it a potent attack for India that season.

However the MOM was the other star of that tournament- Krishnamachari Srikkanth who that morning had scored a run a ball half century in his typical style.

2. Hadlee’s 15 wkts at the Gabba to help NZ to an innings win against Aus- 1985-86
21 years ago this month, I woke up early morning to listen to Richard Hadlee ripping through the Australian batting line- a very inexperienced one at that…. Hilditch ( Indian fans will remember him well- he had come here in 1978-79 with a 2nd rung Australian team under the captaincy of Kim Hughes) was making a comeback. AB and Wessels were the only 2 experienced players and this Aussie team was trying to recover from the retirement of the 3 greats a couple of seasons ago (Lillee, Marsh and Chappell) and the rebels (Hughes and co).

I was always an Aussie supporter, right from my childhood but had a soft corner for NZ. While for several years, we questioned the NZ umpiring, I always believed that NZ played the game fair. And Hadlee was ‘fairness personified’. He would quietly turn back and walk briskly to the bowling mark if a batsman hit him for four. And so was his famous bowling partner of the 1980s- Ewen Chatfield. I had listened to the entire series 5 years ago in 1980 when New Zealand lost to Australia under Geoff Howarth, a team that had two stars fielders in John Parker and Mark Burgess.

And was hoping NZ would turn the fortunes this time around , especially against a weakened Aussie team. Hadlee was at his peak in 1985 and NZ that season boasted of some experienced blokes – strong opening pair of Edgar and Wright and with Jeremy Coney( all three had been part of the losing team in 1980) in the middle order.Martin Crowe was establishing himself then.

Hadlee took 9 for 50, he scored a quick fire half century when NZ batted and then came back to take 6 wickets in the second innings to set up an innings win for NZ. They did manage to win the series with Hadlee taking 11 wkts in the third test after Australia had come back well in the 2nd test at Sydney. It was Hadlee’s best series against Australia.

3. Last ball six on Radio Pakistan-1986

Unusually heavy rains in Bangalore that April evening in 1986 resulted in a power cut in our Syndicate Bank colony in Magadi Road. Here was I with my little National Panasonic transistor and all of the colony friends eagerly awaiting the result of the match (though for most it was a foregone conclusion that India would win and comfortably at that). I listened to the last 10 overs of that match on Radio Pakistan including the dramatic last over and the last ball six by Javed Miandad, described by Chisti Mujahid, that most excitable of Radio Pak commentators. For several years, after that, Radio Pakistan played that over during lunch and tea breaks.

4. England’s triple crown in 1986-87- Lamb strikes 18 in the last over to beat Aus

This was quite a surprise series for England as they peaked under Mike Gatting. Phil Defrietes and Jack Richards emerged as young stars. It is another matter that both of them did not quite fulfil their potential. They won all the three trophies that season- The 4 team Perth Challenge, the WSC involving Aus, WI and Eng and the Ashes.

Allan Lamb, who had had a poor series and was struggling, turned his fortunes with a brilliant last over finish at the SCG in January 1987, when he struck Bruce Reid for 18 runs to win the WSC match from no where, this after Dirk Wellham had earlier that day struck 97 to help Aus post a fighting total. This match has remained etched in my memory ever since.

4.Through the night on Radio Pakistan- 1988 in the Windies

This was a series I enjoyed a lot. Three terrific test matches- Imran, Javed and Abdul (Qadir) at their best vs Richards, Marshall and co…And a couple of really interesting test matches.

At Port of Spain and the 2nd test, Jeffery Dujon once again helped a late order recovery with an unbeaten century in the 2nd innings after Pak and WI were both bowled out for low scores in the first innings (Imran and Qadir bundling out the WI and Marshall running through the Pak 1st innings). Incidentally Vivian Richards had WI’s early recovery after a Imran Khan blast had seen a top order collapse.

Set over 370 to win, Pak collapsed against Marshall and Benjamin before Javed Miandad played yet another gutsy match saving innings. I stayed awake through the night listening to Miandad’s innings, well into early morning 3amish.

His dismissal with about another 80 required revived West Indian hopes. Saleem Yousuf
( Indian cricket followers will remember him well, though he only played a few matches for Pak) played out the last hour and a half before falling in the last over of the match.

West Indies still had hope – 5 balls left and Qadir coming in. The Radio Pak commentators were tense. Earlier that night, they were in high voice when Miandad was batting. Qadir was not known for his defence but he managed to see out the over (Pak were 30 runs short of a win) and Pak narrowly avoided defeat. Thus Pak still led 1-0 going into the 3rd and final test.

The third test was another thriller. After an even 1st innings, Imran Khan and Saleem Yousuf helped Pak recover on the 4th morning, setting WI at 250+ target to square the series.

Day 5 turned out to be a thriller. WI went into it with over a 100 required and 5 wkts in hand with Richards still there. But he went early on day 5 to a Wasim Akram spell in which he took two other wickets.

With over 50 required and only Dujon left of the recognized batsmen, it looked like Akram and Qadir will Pak through to fulfil Imran’s wish of beating WI in WI (i.e winning a series in WI). But it was not to be. In a brilliant counterattacking knock, Winston Benjamin blasted a quick unbeaten 40 while Dujon played an uncharacteristic second fiddle as the two took WI to a series equaling 2 wicket victory.

5. Steve Waugh’s two centuries in two tests-The English Summer of 1989

From the time I heard Steve in the 1985-86 series in India and later in the WSC vs England and WI (1986-87), I had backed him. But it was not until this series that Steve really managed to capture the attention on the Test Arena. I listened ball by ball to both his unbeaten knocks in the first two tests of the 1989 Ashes- this time bunking my evening college- 177 N O and 152 N O , quite a bit of it made in the company of Merwyn Hughes and Geoffery Lawson - and enjoyed every moment of that one. It was the comeback series for Australia on the Ashes front and Steve was instrumental in the wins.

6. Kapil Dev’s four sixers in four balls- English Summer of 1990

India were fighting to save the follow on. Kapil was at the crease and he had Hirwani at the other end…He decided to go after Eddie Hemmings. It was Chris Martin Jenkins who was on air at that time. The English commentators were well used to Kapil’s exploits in the UK- his 175 in the 1983 world cup, his catch of Viv Richards in the final that turned the finals in India’s favour, him captaining India to its first series win in England in 1986.England had been a favourite hunting ground for Kapil. But this one surprised even the BBC TMS commentators. Martin Jenkins kept saying ‘ here’s another one, another one….’. And he couldn’t quite believe that Kapil had hit 4 of 4( four sixers of four balls).

Indian supporters possibly remember this 1990 series for Gooch’s 333 but this splendid Kapil Gem was a personal favourite of mine.

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