Unfulfilled dream

Wrong shot selection... England captain Mike Gatting perishes to the reverse sweep, the bowler being Allan Border, in the final.-PICS: THE HINDU PHOTO LIBRARY

England’s dream of winning the World Cup remains unfulfilled to this day. It came closest to winning the crown in the 1987 Reliance Cup.

Not many had given Australia also too much of a chance to make the final. The Aussies recorded an impressive 253 for five and England’s reply suffered an early setback when Tim Robinson fell cheaply. Graham Gooch and Bill Athey more than made up for Robinson’s early exit.

Gooch was gone when England reached 66. Mike Gatting then stepped in and batted with more than a fair measure of assurance against the Aussie attack, not rated too highly at the time. With a little over a hundred runs away from the target, the English skipper threw caution to the winds to play the cavalier.

Against the none-too-threatening left-arm spin of Allan Border, Gatting embarked on the same stroke that had brought about his end earlier — the reverse sweep. The plump batsman had apparently forgotten he had perished to the guiles of another southpaw, Maninder Singh, while playing that very shot in the semifinals.

This time round, he got it horribly wrong, the ball bouncing from his blade to his shoulders and ballooning to Greg Dyer behind the stumps. The Australian wicket-keeper couldn’t believe his luck but closed his gloves gladly over the offering. Allan Lamb, the last of the established batsmen, held on till his side touched 220. But by then the game and tournament was too far gone from England’s grasp.

It may have been unfair to hold one batsman responsible for the defeat, all the more riling since it was against the old enemy. Gatting didn’t win too many friends for his indiscretion, Wisden scathingly describing it as ‘too crass to contemplate.’

Ignominious end

India’s defeat to England in the semifinals in Mumbai didn’t go down well even with fans of players hailing from the metropolis. When Sunil Gavaskar was castled by Philip DeFreitas for four, the Little Master was booed. Less than a week before, battling high fever, he had slammed a valiant century in his previous game against New Zealand.

Dilip Vengsarkar, known to feast on the English attack, chose to dig his teeth instead into mackerel on the eve of the contest. When his tummy took a tumble, there was no specialist batsman in reserve and Chandrakant Pandit took his place in the starting XI the next day.

When the issue of the clause on logos cropped up, Donald Carr, (above) the Match Referee for the India-New Zealand match, jokingly said he would fine the Indian players.-

Kapil Dev slammed a six over the mid-wicket fence and Mike Gatting was moved closer to the ropes. The Indian skipper duly obliged, his heave held by his counterpart. The wall of resistance crumbled when top-scorer Mohammed Azharuddin was trapped leg before for 64 by Eddie Hemmings. It was an ignominious end for the defending champion.

Laws on logos

Logos were coming into vogue but the Indian team had no common crest on its apparel. Players had individual contracts with the BCCI but wore what their sponsors wanted them to.

When a new board contract said players couldn’t wear logos of their choice, they refused to sign the document. In a match against Pakistan prior to the 1987 World Cup, the Indian manager P. R. Man Singh, reprising his role from the 1983 Prudential Cup triumph, was entrusted with the task of getting the players to sign on the dotted line.

The players were willing to sign the contract but not accept the clause on logos. When Man Singh apprised the then BCCI Secretary Ranbir Singh of the development, the latter didn’t oppose the stance of the players.

“I’ll fine your players,” joked Donald Carr, Match Referee for the game between India and New Zealand. Man Singh, who was a good friend of Carr’s replied, “Go right ahead.” Nothing came of it, though.

For a while Reliance was also keen to have the players wear its insignia.

With the establishment not insisting on enforcing the code, the issue fizzled out eventually.

A. Joseph Antony