World Cup 2019 Countdown: Heads and Tales
mid-day presents some of the best yarns featuring captains and players of the inaugural World Cup in 1975
Oh, that was Sir Len!
After India's heavy loss to England in the opening game of the 1975 World Cup, both teams assembled at the Long Room at Lord's for a post-match drink. Karsan Ghavri and Anshuman Gaekwad were at the window of the fabled hall when an elderly gentleman started to console them on the loss.
When Gaekwad asked the gentleman his name, he said: "In Yorkshire, they call me Len Hutton." In a matter of seconds an embarrassed Gaekwad excused himself followed by an equally embarrassed Ghavri while England's all-time batting great was all by himself.
No room for comfort
The Kensington Close hotel in London was the base for all teams in the 1975 World Cup and though the players found the rooms small and had to step on their kit bags and suitcases to get into bed, there was much room for friendships with players from other countries. Anshuman Gaekwad, who was part of the Indian team, revealed that the teams, thanks to ICC regulations, were allowed to stay on till the tournament concluded with the West Indies v Australia final at Lord's on June 21.
Doug, Don in the bar
Ian Chappell, Australia's then captain, recalled the development of a wonderful friendship between his middle order batsman Doug Walters and East Africa's Don Pringle (father of England all-rounder-turned-cricket writer,Derek). Walters and Pringle were regular late-stayers at the Kensington Close bar, enjoying their liquids and cricket talk. Sadly, Pringle Sr, 43, died in a car crash later that year while returning from a match in Nairobi.
Australian cricketer Ross Edwards
'I dropped Clive Lloyd more than once'
Clive Lloyd's century in the final went down as an epic in one-day cricket history. His 85-ball 102 was a remarkable display of aggression. However, Lloyd enjoyed a slice of luck when Ross Edwards, one of the better fielders in that Australian team, dropped him early in the innings. Edwards's captain Ian Chappell often teased Edwards when they used to meet in the car park of the Channel Nine studio where both players worked. "Is that the man who dropped Clive Lloyd in the World Cup final," Ian used to exclaim. One day, Edwards decided to reveal to his skipper what he didn't know —that Lloyd was dropped by him more than just once.
No gains for Venkat
India captain S Venkataraghavan was representing Derbyshire that year and according to an editorial in Sportsweek magazine, the county dropped him for their one-day games. "This is bound to shatter the morale of our skipper. One source attributes Venkat's dropping to a deliberate move to deprive him of invaluable practice, particularly because England meet India in the opening match," said the editorial. As it turned out, Venkat went wicketless in all the three games and incidentally he captained India in the next World Cup as well.
Gilmour too good, but England sulk
The game which provided a good exhibition of swing bowling was the England v Australia contest at Leeds, the venue of the first semi-final. Left-arm pacer Gary Gilmour claimed 6 for 14 to dismiss England for 93 before Australia lost six wickets before reaching their target thanks to Gilmour's 28. Among those who slammed the Leeds pitch was ex-spin great Jim Laker. "England were not beaten in a cricket match. It was a lottery, decided on the spin of a coin," Laker wrote.
Manager GS Ramchand, the optimist
GS Ramchand, the former India captain, was appointed manager of the Indian team and going by reports, he gave the media much fodder. After India fared miserably (losing to England and NZ and only being able to beat East Africa), Ramchand surprised the media corps by saying he expected Venkataraghavan's team to reach the Last-Four stage. And had India clashed with WI, they would have not been easy prey for Lloyd's team considering both teams had contested a Test series earlier that year. "We would have given a good account [of ourselves]," Ramchand told Sportsweek.
Syed Abid Ali
Big fight at Leeds
Ramchand was kept busy in other matters as well. Sunil Gavaskar's 36 not out in the match against England caused a storm and that didn't please Ramchand. Also, there was a physical fight in the dressing room during the match against East Africa at Leeds between Syed Abid Ali and Farokh Engineer which Gavaskar found akin to a Joe Frazier-Muhammad Ali heavyweight bout. One player told me that Ramchand was ducking for cover as Abid Ali and Engineer fought and he was most afraid of messing up his newly-acquired suit.
No bonus for Windies
Apart from the agreed fee of 350 pounds, the West Indies players received no rewards from their cricket board. However, the Guyanese government decided to organise a motorcade reception for the team in Georgetown and each member of the team a gold chain.
Andy, Murray ignored
WI's Deryck Murray and Andy Roberts put on 64 for the last wicket for an incredible one-wicket win over Pakistan, but the man-of-the-match adjudicator Tom Graveney (former England batsman) picked Sarfraz Nawaz, who had claimed 4 for 44. It is believed that Graveney had seen enough of Sarfraz's effort, gave his verdict and stopped watching the game, thus missing the WI heroics.
Biz talk in London
While the World Cup was up and running, a businessman started to meet some star players of teams and discussed the possibility of organising a series involving the cream of cricket which would not affect any country's international cricket schedule. Somehow his venture didn't take off, but the businessman was not Kerry Packer who took the cricket world by storm three years later. It was an Indian!
Pakistan's Sadiq Mohammad (left) and Mushtaq Mohammad
World Cup of brothers
The 1975 World Cup saw the participation of brothers in three teams. New Zealand had Barry, Dayle and Richard Hadlee apart from Hedley and Geoff Howarth. Pakistan had Mushtaq and Sadiq Mohammad while Australia boasted of Ian and Greg Chappell. Their youngest brother Trevor was in England too, playing league cricket.
Sunny's infamous 36* attracts huge criticism
Gavaskar's infamous 36 not out against England at Lord's caused a lot of cricket writers to call for his suspension for the match against East Africa at Leeds. But the man in question indicated that he had learnt from his experience and attacked the East Africa bowling at Leeds while chasing a 121-run target in a 60 overs-a-side game.
Gavaskar's 65 took him just 85 minutes. He also had the satisfaction of hitting the winning runs in the 29th over. Ted Dexter, the former England captain would have been pleased to see Gavaskar going for the bowling considering he was harsh in his criticism for the crawl at Lord's. "There was no sense, rhythm or reason in his performance," wrote Dexter.
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