1987 Cricket World Cup

Colin Perry By Colin Perry, 28th Jan 2015 | Follow this author | RSS Feed | Short URL http://nut.bz/3sqf9p_-/
Posted in Wikinut>Writing>Sports>Cricket

With the 11th Cricket World Cup about to get underway in Australia and New Zealand, Colin Perry looks back at a previous tournament, which heralded several new eras in the sport.

The teams gather

In October 1987 cricket's eight leading nations convened in India and Pakistan to contest the fourth World Cup tournament.

This was the first World Cup to be staged outside England and the first to feature neutral umpires. Conversely, this was to be the last World Cup where we would see the traditional white clothing and red ball. In a further change from the three previous competitions, the matches were reduced from 60 to 50 overs per innings.

It was a tournament which would mark the end of West Indies' domination and the emergence of Allan Border's Australia as a major force on the world stage.

The group stages

For the opening round of matches co-hosts and defending champions India were allocated to Group A where they would meet Australia, New Zealand and Zimbabwe. Meanwhile in Group B, Pakistan were to face England, West Indies and Sri Lanka. All teams met each other twice in the first phase of the competition with the top two in each group progressing to the semi-finals.

Despite losing their opening match by one run to Australia in Madras on 9th October, it was India who emerged as group winners, ahead of the Aussies on run rate. New Zealand, minus Richard Hadlee, did not pose a serious threat to these two, while Zimbabwe, still five years away from being granted Test status, did not win a match.

In Group B England scraped home by two wickets in what turned out to be a pivotal opening match against the West Indies in Gujranwala on 9th October. Needing an unlikely 91 to win with ten overs and four wickets remaining, Allan Lamb emerged as the hero with 67 from 68 balls. He was ably assisted by John Emburey, Phil DeFreitas and Neil Foster, and led England home by two wickets with three balls to spare. A young Courtney Walsh conceded 31 runs from his last two overs.

Despite going on to lose twice to Pakistan, it was England who took second place in the group behind the co-hosts, bringing to an end the West Indies run of three consecutive appearances in the Final.


With Pakistan and India avoiding each other in the semi-finals, paired instead with Australia and England respectively, the script seemed to have been written for the two host nations to progress to the grand finale, but it was not to be.

In Lahore on 4th November, Australia won the toss and chose to bat, reaching 267 for 6, David Boon top-scoring with 65. In reply Pakistan lost early wickets but Javed Miandad's 70 and Imran Khan's 58 kept them in the hunt. However their departure plus Craig McDermott's 5 for 44, the best bowling figures of the tournament, left the home side with too much to do and they were bowled out 18 runs short of the Australians' total.

The following day in Bombay, England were put into bat by India and posted 254 for 6, Graham Gooch (115) and captain Mike Gatting (56) adding 117 for the third wicket.

The Indian reply began badly, DeFreitas knocking back Gavaskar's off stump with just seven runs on the board. Boosted by this early breakthrough, Gatting’s team continued to keep the batsmen in check and with Nottinghamshire spinner Eddie Hemmings claiming four wickets, including those of captain Kapil Dev and Mohammed Azharrudin, England reached their second World Cup Final with a 35-run victory.

This provided some revenge for England’s surprise defeat at the hands of India at Old Trafford at the same stage of the competition four years earlier.

For one Englishman there was perhaps slight disappointment. With the new policy of neutral umpires, Dickie Bird was denied the opportunity to officiate in a fourth consecutive Final.

The Final

Despite the double local disappointment, around 70 000 fans were inside Calcutta's Eden Gardens for the climax of the competition on 8th November, the early hours of Sunday morning for English fans following the action back home.

Winning the toss and electing to bat first, Australia reached 253 for 5, David Boon again the top-scorer with 75. The opening partnership of Boon and Marsh had hit 52 from the first 10 overs, and despite some economical England bowling in the middle of the innings, 65 were added in the final 11 overs to leave England with more work to do with the bat than they would have liked.

In reply, England lost Tim Robinson LBW to McDermott in the first over, but at 135 for 2 after 31 overs with Athey and Gatting looking well-set, they were almost on target.

Then came the moment which would define this World Cup Final. Australian skipper and occasional bowler Border directed his very first ball down the line of Gatting's leg stump. The England skipper attempted to play a reverse sweep, but hit the ball up onto his shoulder from where it looped up into the hands of wicket-keeper Dyer. Sensing that they had regained the initiative, the Australians celebrated joyously.

As England wickets fell and the required run rate climbed, DeFreitas, batting at number 8, kept his team in the hunt with 17 off 10 balls, including 4-6-4 in McDermott's penultimate over, before holing out to Reid at long-off. DeFreitas' innings had been reminiscent of his 33 from 22 balls which had helped England pull off an unlikely win over Pakistan in a similarly tense finish at Edgbaston six months earlier.

Foster and Small somehow needed to find 17 from the last over, bowled by McDermott, but could manage only 9, as Australia clinched their first World Cup win by the margin of 7 runs.

For Allan Border's team, it was revenge for their Ashes defeat at home to Gatting's men less than a year earlier, and heralded an era in which they would go on to dominate all forms of the game.


Australia, Cricket, England, India, Pakistan, World Cup

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author avatar Colin Perry
I'm a freelance writer who particularly enjoys writing about sports and travel.

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author avatar GV Rama Rao
9th Feb 2015 (#)

A good recall in which you captured the essentials. However, Courtney Walsh's sportive gesture in not mankading a Pakistan batsman in the last ball and losing the match merits a special mention.

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