Former Australia opener, who coached Sri Lanka and West Indies, backs hosts in Thursday's semi-final
Sydney: The 1981 battle at Leeds where England won despite being made to follow-on by old enemy Australia went down as one of the most unbelievable Test matches of all time. Ian Botham (50, 149 not out and 6-95) became a national hero for his all-round show and Bob Willis' eight-wicket haul in Australia's second innings caused him to say later that, "probably half the population of the country thought I was on drugs."
Chasing a target of 130, Kim Hughes' Australia were bowled out for 111. However, John Dyson's 102 as opener in Australia's first innings went unheralded. It was his innings that put Australia in command with 401 for nine declared. In Australia's shambolic second innings, Dyson top-scored with 34. Indeed, Dyson was Australia's hero in that Leeds Test which kick-started England's dominance in a series which is called Botham's Ashes.
Sydney-based Dyson, who spoke to mid-day yesterday became famous for his epic catch, labelled then as 'catch of the century'. It was taken close to the fence at Sydney Cricket Ground against the West Indies to dismiss tailender Sylvester Clarke in the 1981-82 series. Dyson leapt in the air, football-style, said the commentators then. It was fitting because Dyson was a footballer as well. Sixty-year-old Dyson was coach of Sri Lanka from 2003 to 2005 and was appointed as coach of the West Indies in 2007.
Excerpts from an interview:
On Thursday's India vs Australia World Cup semi-final at the Sydney Cricket Ground:
I'm hoping they produce a good cricket wicket at the Sydney Cricket Ground which means it will have some decent pace and bounce. And I believe that this Indian team will struggle against good pace and bounce. So, I'm expecting Australia to win this one.
On his 1981 Leeds century against England that tends to get buried by Ian Botham's 149 and Bob Willis' 8-43:
Maybe, that does feel sad a bit at times. But that century will always be important to me. Probably, in the context of that particular match of the Ashes series, it was not the best time or pace to get the century so it's unfortunate in that sense. But that's how things turned out so I can't help it. Personally, it was my first Test 100, so it was and will always remain a very important milestone for me.
John Dyson batting for Australia in the first Test against England at Nottingham in June 1981. Pic/Getty Images
On Australia not being able to chase 130 for victory at Leeds in 1981:
I got out at 6-68 and even before I got out, things were going downhill for us. Look, we played some very good cricket first-up in that series and won the opening Test (by four wickets at Nottingham). But then, we played some really bad cricket later on in the series, that cost us dear and we ended up losing (1-3). And we don't like to lose any Ashes series. So yes, that was very disappointing.
On facing India spinners Bishen Bedi, Erapalli Prasanna and Bhagwat Chandrasekhar during his debut series in 1977-78:
Bedi, Prasanna and Chandrasekhar were all very good spinners. There was Venkat too. Now, it was different from what I was used to, as an opening batsman in Australia. I was used to some really good pace attacks, but the Indian spinners were truly world-class. I obviously struggled against them (was dismissed by Bedi thrice and Chandrasekhar twice in six innings).
On being out caught behind on both occasions in the 1980-81 Test defeat to India at Melbourne:
Oh, how I wish there was DRS in that series, but this technology was obviously not there then. The ball clipped my thigh pad on one of the occasions and carried to the wicketkeeper (Syed Kirmani) and I was given out. I couldn't do anything about it then but I was not out.
On Sunil Gavaskar walking off with opening partner Chetan Chauhan after being given out LBW:
I couldn't believe it. I had never seen anything like it. I was dumbfounded.
On his 127 not out against a West Indies attack that included the likes of Michael Holding, Joel Garner, Colin Croft and Sylvester Clarke:
That was an extremely tough bowling line-up to face up to. All their pace bowlers were world-class. They simply didn't bowl any bad balls. They just kept coming at you every time and you couldn't do much. They had the runs on the board (384 & 255) so they were looking to get us out (Aus 267 & 200 for four) in a drawn game. That West Indies team was a good batting and fielding unit too. That's the reason I rate my unbeaten 127 as the best innings of my career because it was not easy at all out there against that pace attack.