Martin’s magnificent run

Martin Crowe in action against England in a league match. The New Zealand skipper was the top-scorer of the 1992 World Cup.-THE HINDU PHOTO LIBRARY

Martin Crowe sprang a big surprise in the opening match of the fifth World Cup at Eden Park, Auckland, by tossing the ball to off-break bowler Dipak Patel after Chris Carins had completed his first over. Crowe’s strategic move to deploy a spinner with the new ball on a slow and low surface became the talking point for days and years, but it was the majestic right-hander’s aggressive batting in New Zealand’s campaign that the rival bowlers feared the most.

To start with Crowe quelled the Australian challenge when his team-mates at the other end appeared clueless, until Ken Rutherford, coming in at the fall of the fourth wicket, gave him company. Crowe (100 not out) batted for three hours, faced 134 balls and struck 11 boundary shots to give his team a good chance of prevailing over Australia. David Boon’s 100 (run out, 131 balls, 11x4) matched Crowe’s effort, but, eventually New Zealand won by 37 runs.

The champion strokeplayer who liked to hook off his front foot, made 74 not out against Zimababwe in Napier, 81 not out against West Indies in Auckland, 73 not out against England in Wellington and 91 against Pakistan in Auckland. In all he made 456 runs in nine matches to become the highest run-getter in the competition and the only player to boast of a three-digit average (114.00).

Imran at No. 3

Imran Khan has batted the most times at No. 5 (48 times, 12 times not out, 1389 runs), No. 6 (57 times, 14 not out, 1328 runs) and No. 7 (26 times, 9 not out, 485 runs) in one-day internationals. But, during this World Cup he batted at No. 3 three times, including the final against England at the MCG. The essay in the final was also his last ODI innings. And what a decision it turned out to be! He walked out at the fall of Aamer Sohail at 20 and left the scene at 197, being the fourth batsman out after a well-compiled 72 in 110 balls. The innings inspired the experienced campaigner Javed Miandad (58) as also the then newcomer Inzamam-ul-Haq (42). It was a tactical ploy that helped Pakistan post 249 and set an exact 5-run an over chase; a big ask those days at a venue like the MCG bowl. As of now there are only 42 instances of a team scoring 250 plus at the MCG.

Brandes lays England low

After seven losses on the trot, Eddo Brandes finally brought some cheer to Zimbabwe in its last league match of the tournament against finalist England at Albury, located near Australia’s famous Great Dividing Range. The Zimbabwe seamer, a farmer by profession, produced a deadly spell (four for 21) that rattled Graham Gooch and his team. Brandes struck off the first ball of the innings, dispatching Gooch for 0 and then caused the downfall of Allan Lamb, Robin Smith and Graeme Hick as England — set a paltry target of 135 — was skittled out for 125. Left-arm seamer Malcolm Jarvis (one for 32), seamer Ian Butchart (two for 32) and medium-pacer Ali Omarshah (two for 17) also featured in that exceptional win for Zimbabwe. It was Brandes’ first ODI against England.

Omar Henry’s distinction

South Africa’s return to mainstream international cricket also enabled it to look at the chances of fielding a coloured cricketer. This thought became a reality when the Stellenbosch-born left-arm spinner Omar Henry was included in the XI against Sri Lanka. It was South Africa’s third match of the nine-team competition, but it was as a left-hand batsman that the 40-year-old Henry first stepped on to the field. He played for 17 minutes, faced 13 balls and struck one four in an innings of 11 runs, before being caught by Ruwan Kalpage off seamer Champaka Ramanayake.

Henry, however, made a good impression as a spinner (10-0-31-1), but South Africa, which had posted only 195 in the league match at Basin Reserve, Wellington, lost by three wickets.

Botham’s beefy day in Sydney

Ian Botham having a welcome drinks break in the league match against old enemy Australia. After bagging four for 31, Botham opened and put on a century stand with Graham Gooch to pave the way for an England victory.-V. V. KRISHNAN

An Australia-England clash gets the adrenalin going among the players and fans alike. When someone like Ian Botham, one of the greatest all-rounders of the game, is in the England ranks, sparks can be expected to fly.

In the course of a daylight bowling effort at the SCG in 1992, Botham changed the drift of the match in a jiffy, removing Allan Border, Ian Healy, Peter Taylor and Craig McDermott in seven balls without conceding a run as Australia collapsed from 145 for four to 155 for eight, ultimately scoring 171. Botham’s final figures were four for 31.

And, then, under the lights, he made 53 with six boundary blows, opening the innings with Graham Gooch and making things easy for England with a rousing 107-run opening stand. There was no challenge for the Man of the Match award this time: It went to Ian Terence Botham.

G. Viswanath