The Boon-Marsh combine

G. VISWANATH

David Boon and Geoff Marsh gave Australia sound starts in the 1987 World Cup.-THE HINDU PHOTO LIBRARY

AUSTRALIA had the personnel to come good in the 1987 World Cup. It boasted of two excellent opening batsmen in David Boon and Geoff Marsh who complemented each other so well. When Boon attacked, Marsh played the sheet anchor role and on occasions they easily swapped roles.

The strapping fast bowler Craig McDermott might have taken 18 wickets, but the combined power of Boon and Marsh was no less significant for Australia in the 1987 Reliance World Cup in India and Pakistan. They made 875 runs — Boon (447 from eight innings for an average of 55.88) and Marsh (428 from eight innings average 61.14) — and paved the way for Allan Border's team's trophy triumph.

Australia was not regarded as the favourite to win the 1987 World Cup. Under captain Border and coach Bob Simpson the team was slowly gaining strength after some poor performances in the early 1980s.

Boon and Marsh were in charge of vital positions in the batting order and the fascinating thing about Boon's splendid form was that he managed a high aggregate without scoring a single century. His scores were 49 (68 balls, 5x4) against India, 2 (15 balls) against Zimbabwe, 87 (96 balls, 5x4 and 2x6) against New Zealand, 62 (59 balls, 7x4) against India, 93 off (101 balls, 9x4 and 1x6) against Zimbabwe, 65 (45 balls, 3x4) against Pakistan and 75 (125 balls 7x4) against England in the final.

Geoff Allott, the unsung New Zealand paceman, picked up 20 wickets in the 1999 World Cup.-V.V. KRISHNAN

Marsh made two important centuries — 110 (141 balls, 7x4, 1x6) against India in Australia's opening match at the Chepauk and 126 (149 balls, 12x4, and 3x6) against New Zealand at Chandigarh. His other scores, though not very impressive, were good enough to boost his aggregate and keep the rival bowlers at bay. He made 62 (101 balls, 8x4) against Zimbabwe, 5 (9 balls) against New Zealand, 33 (56 balls, 2x4) against India, 37 (65 balls, 1x4) against Zimbabwe, 31 (57 balls, 2x4) against Pakistan and 24 (49 balls, 3x4) against England in the final.

In partnership, they put on 110 and 88 against India, 90 against Zimbabwe, 73 against Pakistan in the semifinal and 75 against England in the final; fabulous figures from an opening pair. And their success was the prime reason for Australia keeping the pressure on its rivals right through the 1987 World Cup in Pakistan and India. Boon won the Man of the Match award three times and Marsh twice.

If Australia's success story was largely because of the runs produced by Boon and Marsh, England progressed to the final for the second time because of some big scores from its opening batsman, Graham Gooch, who was declared the Man of the Match in three encounters, including the semi-final against India.

Gooch was in terrific form against India and against the home team's two left-arm spinners in Maninder Singh and Ravi Shastri.

He employed the sweep shot against them with certainty and for maximum gains; a style of batting that helped England and Gooch come on top against the Indian attack. Maninder and Shastri gave away 103 runs in their 20 overs combined, which made it obviously an expensive affair for skipper Kapil Dev.

Courtney Walsh earned the accolades of the entire cricket world for his magnanimous act of not running out Pakistan's Salim Jaffer, who had left his crease even before the ball had been delivered in 1987.-THE HINDU PHOTO LIBRARY

England captain Mike Gatting, who had a fine World Cup, dominated the two spinners, but it was Gooch's batting based on common sense that saw him make 115 (136 balls, 11x4) and pave the way for an England win. Gooch topped the batting with 471 runs in eight innings with one century and three half centuries, but again England came second-best in the Cup final, losing by seven runs to Australia, Boon making 75 and winning the Man of the Match award in the final.

Three Indians made an impact before the team was knocked out in the semifinal of the 1987 World Cup.

A batsman of legendary fame who made 36 runs off 174 balls with one four in the first World Cup match on June 7, 1975 at Lord's, was a little more enterprising a dozen years later when the World Cup was held in India.

The Little Master, Sunil Gavaskar made 37 (32 balls, 6x4 and 1x6) against Australia, 2 (14 balls) against New Zealand, 43 (52 balls, 9x4) against Zimbabwe, 61 (72 balls, 7x4) against Australia, 50 (114 balls, 3x4) against Zimbabwe, 103 (88 balls, 10x4, 3x6) against New Zealand and 4 (7 balls) against England in the semifinal.

The last sight of Gavaskar was that of him being bowled by England seamer, Phil DeFreitas, even as the Indian public was savouring his maiden hundred in one-day internationals against New Zealand at Nagpur. Perhaps he reached his peak a bit too early, smashing the New Zealand bowlers, when it was reported that he was running high temperature and persuaded by skipper Kapil Dev to play.

A climax to Gavaskar's fine run was anticipated. It did not happen though, but his 88-ball 103 with 10 fours and three 6s will remain etched in the memory of the privileged spectators at Nagpur. He took 21 runs off a single over from medium pacer Ewen Chatfield, the sequence being 0,6,6,4,4,1.

Gavaskar's entertaining knock came after fast medium bowler. Chetan Sharma emerged from nowhere to deliver the first hat-trick of the World Cup. He had proved to be the most expensive before he dismissed three New Zealand batsmen in the same fashion. He bowled Ken Rutherford for 26 and Ian Smith and Ewen Chatfield for zeroes off the 4th, 5th and 6th deliveries of his sixth over.

Skipper Kapil Dev's heave off offspinner Eddie Hemmings to Mike Gatting at deep midwicket closed the World Cup chapter for India at the Wankhede Stadium, but the Indian allrounder made his presence felt in two matches and won the Man of the Match awards. When India was looking for a thrust to its innings against New Zealand at Bangalore he produced an electrifying undefeated 72 off 58 balls with four 4s and a six. He again responded brilliantly in a similar situation, making an unbeaten 41 off 25 balls, with two 4s and three 6s against Zimbabwe at Motera.

Courtney Walsh has the right to be called as one of the stars of the World Cup. This was not because he took four for 40 against Pakistan at the Gaddafi Stadium, Lahore. The gangling bowler took the wickets of Salim Malik, Ijaz Ahmed, Imran Khan and Salim Yousuf, but it was his act of munificence that put him on a pedestal.

The Jamaican did not do a `Mankad' — run the batsman out at the bowler's end — when Salim Jaffer had stepped out of his ground too far. He warned Jaffer and let him off when Pakistan needed just 14 runs to win the match.

Neil Johnson shone both with the ball and the bat (below) in 1999 - with 12 wickets and 367 runs.-N. SRIDHARAN

Walsh and the West Indies did not get another opportunity to separate the last Pakistani pair as Abdul Qadir made an unbeaten 16 for his team to win off the last ball. Walsh received praise and a Persian carpet from the then Pakistan President Zia-Ul-Haq.

The 1999 World Cup was made for the Australian captain, Steve Waugh. The West Indies captain Clive Lloyd had left an indelible mark on the first two World Cups. Then Kapil Dev emerged as the hero of the 1983 campaign for India. It took 16 years for another captain to stay in the spotlight for two matches in a row by his sheer individual brilliance.

Waugh did it with the bat for Australia, scoring a match-winning, undefeated 120 against South Africa in the last Super 6 league match at Headingley, Leeds. Let off by Herschelle Gibbs when he was in his 50s, Waugh went on to bat for four minutes short of three hours, faced 110 balls, struck 16 fours and two sixes in an extraordinary display that made the spectators applaud a great deed from a great batsman and captain.

The Australian captain had not finished with South Africa. In the semifinal at Edgbaston, Waugh made 56 (108 minutes, 76 balls, six fours and one six) in his team's total of 213. In all Waugh made 398 runs from 10 innings, which was second only to Rahul Dravid's top aggregate of 461 runs.

V.V. KRISHNAN

South Africa's Lance Klusener demonstrated his utility value topping the batting average (140. 50) scoring 281 runs in nine matches, out of which he remained undefeated six times. He also took 17 wickets. He produced runs for South Africa at different positions and took wickets unfailingly. Similarly, Zimbabwe's Neil Johnson had a fine outing making 367 runs and taking 12 wickets.

The bowlers who exploited the English conditions were Geoff Allott who led New Zealand's charge in the semifinal, taking 20 wickets and Australia's Glenn McGrath who accounted for 18 dismissals behind Shane Warne's impressive 20 wickets at 18.05. Well, a special mention must be made of Shoaib Akhtar's fast bowling.

He notched up speeds in excess of 90 mph consistently and bowled Nathan Astle, Stephen Fleming and Chris Harris in the semifinal at Old Trafford.