English Captain pushes the field back, changes the course of the match
In cricket, quite often one talks about a change that a break brings(drinks break, tea/lunch break).
This took me back to memories of the 1992 World Cup played in Australia and New Zealand and more specifically to the finals. Though not spoken about, I believe a blunder right after the first drinks break in the World Cup final, changed the course of the match.
Wasim Akram's 2 wickets in 2 balls
Over the last 15 years, there have been several discussions and reports on Wasim Akram’s 2 beauties when Imran brought him back for a short 2nd spell to send back Allan Lamb and Chris Lewis in successive balls. And the consensus has been that those two balls was the turning point of the match.
To me, the turning point came much earlier that afternoon, in fact in the 2nd hour of play and right after the first drinks break. Noted in those years as a tough, disciplined and shrewd captain, Gooch, to me, made a big blunder that turned the match.
Great start by England
Derek Pringle and Chris Lewis had got England off to a great start with a superb first spell. Rameez Raja, who was earlier caught off a No ball (England also tried to run him out when Rameez, unaware of the No ball call, made his walk back to the pavilion), did not last long.
First 10 overs went for just 25 and Pakistan had lost both its openers. Not for the first time, Imran promoted himself up the order and with Miandad, struggled to force the pace.
England were right on top. The first 17 overs cost just 34. In 9 overs, the two veterans in the team had put on just 12 runs. Pringle had possibly bowled the best new ball spell of the World cup.
First Drinks break
Once again, Imran had taken a big gamble of playing himself in. This time though he played himself in for much too long. And Pakistan had scored at just 2 runs an over in the play before drinks.
And quite inexplicably, Graham Gooch, pushed the field back (with the 15 over restriction gone) and offered Javed and Imran easy singles, which was previously (before the drinks break) not on offer.
The score card will never reveal the role captains play. And again in this one, the scores will always reflect Inzamam Ul Haq’s knock at the end of the Pak innings and Wasim’s double blow later in the evening in the middle overs of the English innings.
The Turning Point
This phase between the 18th over and the 35th over was when the English Captain released the pressure and allowed the two senior pros to ease the singles and twos and the odd boundaries. During this period, Pakistan added 80 without losing another wicket, thus setting the stage for Inzy and Wasim in the last 5-10 overs.
Sometimes in cricket, one should not be unduly disturbed by rules. In this case the ‘15 over restriction’ made Gooch think about pushing his fielders back when he possibly should have continued with the 9 men inside the circle and made Javed and Imran force the pace and take chances against the tight bowling of Philip Defrietes and Ian Botham.
Instead, Gooch gave in and soon after the mandatory field restrictions( 15 overs in those days) ended, pushed the field back.
And that to me was the turning point of 1992 World Cup Final.