Specials – When the Women’s World Cup was last held in England

  The Women’s World Cup, the final of which is being played at Lord’s today, returned to England after 24 long years. The 1993 tournament was the fifth edition and featured eight teams, then a new record. 

  Interestingly, the 60-over format was persisted with, even as the men’s World Cup had shifted to the standardized 50 overs back in 1987. Australia were defending the title, having won the previous edition in 1988 at home. Here is a look back at a few highlights and moments from the 13-day-long tournament.

A transformed roster, two decades on

  England had earlier hosted the inaugural edition in 1973, which featured an intriguing mix of teams. Besides the hosts, Australia and New Zealand, there were Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago playing as separate nations – unheard of in men’s international cricket – as well as an International XI and a Young England outfit.

  On the other hand, 1993 saw the West Indies play the tournament for the first time, while Denmark also made their World Cup bow.

Heavyweights dish out opening-day drubbings

  Veteran opener Janette ‘Jan’ Brittin impressed for the hosts in their opening game against Denmark with a sublime 104 that led to a 239-run rout of the opposition. Chasing a total of 286/3, the highest of the tournament, the Danes lost their last five wickets for one run to be bowled out for 47.

  On the same day, Australia began their title defence with a breeze, subduing the Netherlands, who were bundled out for 56 thanks in main to a remarkable return of 12-7-8-4 from pacer Brownwyn Calver, by ten wickets.

      England, hosts of the 1993 edition of the Women’s World Cup, won their second title after defeating New Zealand in the final at Lord’s (source – gettyimages/espncricinfo.com)

The Netherlands win their first World Cup game

  Having endured eight straight defeats in their maiden World Cup appearance in 1988, it would not have been surprising to see the Dutchwomen go winless again, especially after the limp display against Australia.

  However, their second match, against newbies West Indies, presented the ideal opportunity to break the duck. And they did it in quite resounding fashion, defending 158 to win by 70 runs, with Pauline te Beest (62) and Anita van Lier (4/24) doing the star turn.

England see off India in a pulsating climax

  In what was possibly the best match of the tournament, the hosts eked out a last-over victory against India. Brittin was in the thick of things again, scoring 100 in England’s total of 179 – they lost their last seven wickets for 22.

  The evergreen Indian captain Diana Edulji bowled splendidly, taking 4/12 with her left-arm spin. India went from 83/2 to 128/7 in reply, but the tail kept England on their toes. Eventually, number eleven Laya Francis was run out with four needed from two balls.

Underdogs play out a thriller of their own

  An equally exciting finish followed three days later, when Ireland staved off a brave Dutch challenge. The Netherlands could manage only 134/8, with skipper Nicola Payne (46) being the top scorer.

  Ireland looked on course at 60/2, but were put on the brink thanks to an incisive spell from Ariette van Noortwijk (4/21). It was left to Judith Herbison and Susan Bray, at nine and ten respectively, to stitch an unbroken stand of 32 and ensure a two-wicket win in the 57th over.

     Karen Smithies, England’s 24-year-old captain, receives the World Cup trophy at Lord’s. She was also the joint highest wicket-taker of the tournament (source – ICC/gettyimages)

New Zealand signal their intent with a clean slate

  The White Ferns failed to finish in the top two in the first four editions, but they were the standout team in the league phase this time, with seven wins out of seven. Despite being bowled out for 127 against England, they ensured that it was enough for a 25-run win.

  The lowest total, 40 by the Netherlands, of the tournament came against New Zealand, with Jennifer Turner taking 5/5. They reserved their best for Australia, blowing them away for 77 en route to a ten-wicket win.

Hosts prove their superiority in the summit clash

  However, New Zealand’s unbeaten streak was broke  when it mattered most – in the final at Lord’s on 1st August, 1993 – a historic occasion for the women’s game. England, whose only league loss had come against New Zealand, got back with a facile 67-run win to secure their second title.

  Brittin (48) and Carole Hodges (45) steered England to 195/5, before New Zealand ambled to 60/2 in the 27th over, at which point the run out of Debbie Hockley turned the tide towards England. New Zealand fell to 71/5, and never really recovered, terminating at 128 in the 56th over. Gillian Smith took 3/29 for the hosts.

Presenting the chart toppers

  Jan Brittin, England’s batting pillar, was the leading run-scorer in the tournament, tallying 410 runs at 51.25, including two hundreds. The highest individual score came from the bat of Helen Plimmer, who scored 118 for England against Ireland.

  Karen Smithies, captain of England, and Julie Harris of New Zealand – both medium pacers – were the leading wicket-takers with 15 scalps each, while New Zealand’s Jennifer Turner recorded the best bowling figures, a sensational 5/5 against the Netherlands.  

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Specials – India v Pakistan ODI finals over the years

  Arch-rivals India and Pakistan are set to face each other in the final of the eighth edition of the Champions Trophy at the Oval today. Though this will be the first time that these two sides will contest an ICC ODI tournament final, they have often met in summit clashes over the years. Let us go back in time and revisit the instances of India and Pakistan squaring off in an ODI tournament final.

Benson and Hedges World Championship of Cricket, 1984-85

  In what was the final of a one-of-a-kind tournament featuring all seven Test nations, World Cup champions India posted a convincing eight-wicket win under lights at Melbourne. Kapil Dev (3/23) and L. Sivaramakrishnan (3/35) limited Pakistan to 176/9, which was chased down with 17 balls to spare, thanks to openers Kris Srikkanth (67) and ‘champion of champions’ Ravi Shastri (63*).

Austral-Asia Cup, 1986

  The final of the inaugural Austral-Asia Cup at Sharjah produced a classic that is etched in cricketing folklore. Sunil Gavaskar’s 92 guided India, who were inserted in, to 245/7. In reply, an equation of 90 from ten overs did not bother Javed Miandad (116*). With four needed off the last ball, the ‘Karachi streetfighter’ famously hit Chetan Sharma for six to seal Pakistan’s one-wicket win.

    With four needed off the last ball, Javed Miandad hit a six to ensure a famous win for Pakistan in the 1985-86 Austral-Asia Cup final 

Wills Trophy, 1991-92

  India and Pakistan pipped the West Indies to set up the final of this triangular series in Sharjah. Zahid Fazal (98*) and Saleem Malik (87) put on 171 for the third wicket before the former retired hurt, helping Pakistan to a sturdy 262/6. In the chase, India’s batsmen succumbed to paceman Aaqib Javed, who grabbed record figures of 7/37, including a hat-trick, as his team triumphed by 72 runs.

Austral-Asia Cup, 1993-94

  Pakistan won their third successive Austral-Asia Cup after beating India in the final. Aamer Sohail top-scored with 69 while Basit Ali hit a breezy 57 in Pakistan’s total of 250/6; off-spinner Rajesh Chauhan impressed with 3/29. India then fell apart from 163/4 to be dismissed for 211 in the 48th over, a fifth-wicket stand of 80 between Vinod Kambli and Atul Bedade going in vain.

Silver Jubilee Independence Cup, 1997-98

  This tri-series was played in Dhaka to mark 25 years of Bangladesh’s independence. India and Pakistan locked horns in the best-of-three finals after the hosts bowed out. The first final, a 46-over affair, ended in India’s favour with 53 balls and eight wickets to spare after openers Sachin Tendulkar (95) and Sourav Ganguly (68) put on 159 to shut Pakistan, who managed 212/8, out of the game.

  Pakistan turned the tables in the second final with a fine bowling display, spearheaded by left-arm spinner Mohammad Hussain (4/33). Only captain Mohammad Azharuddin (66) stood tall in a total of 189. Pakistan, buoyed by an attacking 51 from Saeed Anwar, galloped to a six-wicket win in 31.3 overs. The batsmen treated leggie Sairaj Bahutule with disdain, taking 53 off his five overs.

     Sourav Ganguly scored 124 to inspire India to a record-breaking win in the third final of the Independence Cup in 1997-98 (source – wisdenindia.com)

  The decider was a 48-over thriller that saw a new record for the highest successful chase. Pakistan amassed 314/5, with Anwar (140) and Ijaz Ahmed (117) adding 230 for the third wicket. Sourav Ganguly (124) and Robin Singh (82) took India to 250/1 in 38 overs, but the game went down to the wire – with three needed in two balls, Hrishikesh Kanitkar hit a four to give India a three-wicket win.

Pepsi Cup, 1998-99

  Pakistan had notched easy wins in their two league matches against India, and it was no different in the final of this tri-series (also involving Sri Lanka) at Bangalore. Inzamam-ul Haq (91) and Shahid Afridi (65) powered Pakistan to 291/8, which was too big a total for the hosts as they were undone by man of the match Azhar Mahmood, who took 5/38 to star in a 123-run victory.

Coca-Cola Cup, 1998-99

  India’s travails against Pakistan continued in the final of yet another tri-series, with England being the knocked-out team this time. The venue was Sharjah, Pakistan’s home away from home, and the bowlers rose to the occasion to skittle India out for 125 in 45 overs, with only Ganguly (50) showing some fight. The minuscule target was chased down in 28 overs with eight wickets still in the bag.

Kitply Cup, 2008

  India had thumped Pakistan by 140 runs in the league stage of this short tri-series in Dhaka, also featuring hosts Bangladesh, but the men in green raised their game in the final, winning by 25 runs. A second-wicket stand of 209 between Salman Butt (129) and Younis Khan (108) was the cornerstone of Pakistan’s 315/3. Despite fifties by M.S Dhoni and Yuvraj Singh, India folded for 290 in 48.2 overs.

Specials – Recalling the best of the 2007 World Cup

  It has been ten years since the ninth edition of the Cricket World Cup, which began in the Caribbean on 13th March, 2007 and featured a record 16 teams.

  The tournament drew considerable flak from many quarters for its long-drawn format and overpriced tickets, not to mention the embarrassing gaffe by the umpires in the rain-reduced final between Australia and Sri Lanka.

  According to the critics, the shocking death of Pakistan’s coach Bob Woolmer and the early ousters of marquee teams such as India and Pakistan further dampened the tournament that was trumpeted to be the world’s biggest cricket carnival.

  However, the showpiece event saw plenty of eye-catching performances and fairytale moments that are still fresh in the memory even after a decade. For instance, Ireland’s remarkable giant-killing journey is now part of cricketing folklore, while Australia blitzed to their third successive title with a ruthless domination over every team they faced.

  Let us look back at the best from the saga that was the 2007 World Cup:

A rush of records

  A clutch of new World Cup records were created in the 2007 edition. India became the first team to surpass the 400-run barrier, scoring 413/5 against Bermuda; their 257-run win becoming the biggest victory margin.

  A record aggregate of 671 was gathered as well, in the group match between Australia and South Africa at Basseterre; in the same match, Matthew Hayden scored the fastest World Cup hundred, off 66 balls. All these records have since been broken.

Australia conquer one and all

  Never before had any team imposed their supremacy in a World Cup tournament in the manner Australia did in 2007. Gunning for a hat trick of titles, Ricky Ponting’s men won all eleven matches in thumping fashion to reaffirm their status as the undisputed kings of ODI cricket. 

  They reserved their most clinical display for New Zealand – the team that had whitewashed them 3-0 in the Chappell-Hadlee Trophy in the lead-up to the tournament. The Black Caps were thrashed by a whopping 215 runs at St. George’s in the Super Eight stage as Australia provided a rude reminder that no one could hold a candle to them on the biggest stage of them all.

     Australia, who were undefeated throughout the tournament, won their third successive World Cup trophy (source – icc-cricket.com)

  Their inevitable march towards glory culminated with handsome wins over South Africa – who crashed to 27/5 after batting first – and Sri Lanka in the semi-final and final respectively.

Pluck of the Irish

  First-time participants Ireland, clubbed in a tough Group D, were the toast of the tournament as they won the hearts of all and sundry with their spunky campaign that produced two memorable wins and a tie against full member teams.

  Led by the spirited Trent Johnston, the Irish first held Zimbabwe to a nerve-shredding tie at Kingston to show that they were not going to be pushovers as the tournament progressed.

  Four days later – on St. Patrick’s Day, no less – at the same venue, Ireland astonished the cricket world by bowling 1992 champions Pakistan out for 132 and then winning by three wickets, thanks to Niall O’Brien’s superb 72. They went on to collect another scalp in the Super Eight round, in the form of Bangladesh, who were resoundingly beaten by 74 runs at Bridgetown.

Tigers come of age

  On the same day that Ireland knocked Pakistan out, Bangladesh put India on the brink of elimination with a famous five-wicket win at Port-of-Spain. Disciplined bowling from the Tigers ensured that the fancied Indian batsmen could manage no more than 191.

  This win was the ticket they needed to make it to the Super Eight, wherein they upset South Africa by 67 runs. After enduring a winless campaign in 2003, this was a much-needed boost for Bangladeshi cricket.

Pigeon flies off in style

  A couple of months before the World Cup, the great Glenn McGrath had a triumphant end to his Test career as Australia regained the Ashes with a 5-0 win at home.

  His ODI farewell was even sweeter, as he topped the bowling charts at the World Cup with a record tally of 26 wickets at a stunning average of 13.73, for which he was named Player of the Tournament. His penetrative bowling at the top proved that this Pigeon could fly high even at the age of 37.

      Playing in their first World Cup, unfancied Ireland conjured memorable wins over Pakistan and Bangladesh (source – icc-cricket.com)

Gilchrist squashes the Lankans

  Australian legend Adam Gilchrist pounded the Sri Lankan attack with a whirlwind 149 from 104 balls in the rain-hit final at Bridgetown. This title-clinching innings – the highest ever in a World Cup final – was studded with 13 fours and eight sixes, and knocked the wind out of the opposition, which was hoping for an encore of the 1996 summit clash when Australia were at the receiving end.

  Gilchrist’s assault carried Australia to a winning total of 281/4 in the allotted 38 overs. The secret to his powerful hitting turned out to be a squash ball, which he had placed in the glove of his bottom hand and credited it for giving him a better grip.

  It was an unusual tactic to employ, but certainly not illegal. With this win by 53 runs on the D/L method, Australia stretched their unbeaten streak in the World Cup to 30 matches, dating back to 1999.

That catch by Dwayne Leverock

  Bermudan policeman Dwayne Leverock, weighing in at over 280 pounds, provided one of the most iconic World Cup moments when he took a catch at first slip off the bowling of 17-year-old Malachi Jones to dismiss India’s Robin Uthappa in a Group B match at Port-of-Spain.

  Leverock dived to the right to take a stunning one-handed catch, after which he took off on a celebratory run across the field even as Jones wept with joy. “He has flown like a gazelle…the earth shook! Oh what a catch!”, exclaimed commentator David Lloyd on air.

  Though India had the last laugh, smashing 413/5, then the highest World Cup total , en route a 257-run victory, Leverock made sure that he attained cult status with his gravity-defying exhibition of athleticism.

Gibbs goes hammer and tongs

  Exciting South African stroke-maker Herschelle Gibbs became the first man to hit six sixes in an over in international cricket, when he achieved the rare feat against the Netherlands in a Group A match at Basseterre. The unfortunate bowler to suffer this onslaught was leg-spinner Daan van Bunge, who returned forgettable figures of 4-0-56-0 as South Africa romped home by 221 runs.

       South Africa’s Herschelle Gibbs became the first man to hit six sixes in an over in international cricket, achieving the feat against the Netherlands (source – rediff.com)

  In what was a rain-reduced 40-over affair, the Proteas were warming up nicely at 178/2 when the historic 30th over began. The first one went over long-on, the next two were smote over long-off, the fourth slogged over deep mid-wicket, the fifth swatted over wide long-off and finally another over deep mid-wicket. Gibbs scored 72 from just 40 balls as South Africa piled up 353/3.

‘Slinga’ Malinga creates history

  Sri Lanka’s curly-haired speedster Lasith Malinga, renowned for his slingshot action, became the first man to capture four wickets in four balls in any form of international cricket during his side’s Super Eight clash with South Africa at Providence.

  Needing 210 for victory, South Africa seemed home and dry at 206/5 when Malinga dismissed Shaun Pollock (bowled) Andrew Hall (caught at cover) off the last two balls of the 45th over. He returned in the 47th over and duly removed the well-settled Jacques Kallis (caught behind) for 86 and Makhaya Ntini (bowled) off the first two balls to reduce the score to 207/9.

  Nevertheless, South Africa eventually scampered home by one wicket, Malinga’s 4/54 going in vain. His was the fifth instance of World Cup hat-trick, and in 2011, he became the first bowler to take two World Cup hat-tricks.

Swansongs galore

  As aforementioned, Glenn McGrath had the perfect send-off from international cricket, but other illustrious names were not as lucky. Pakistan skipper Inzamam-ul-Haq bid a tearful farewell to ODI cricket, bowing out from what was a nightmarish tourney for his team in the last group game against Zimbabwe.

  West Indian captain Brian Lara too quit international cricket, after his team failed to meet the expectations of the home crowd. Yet another captain to retire from ODI cricket following the World Cup was England’s Michael Vaughan, while New Zealand’s Stephen Fleming gave up the captaincy after ten years at the helm.

  Furthermore, Greg Chappell and Duncan Fletcher, respective coaches of India and England, resigned from their posts. Victorious Australian coach John Buchanan also called time on a highly successful eight-year tenure.

Specials – When a bunch of amateurs nearly capsized the table-toppers

  Ten years ago, a motley crew of amateurs from the Emerald Isle embarked upon a life-changing expedition to the Caribbean. They had among their ranks a teacher, an electrician, a postman, a fabric salesman and a handyman. Little did they know that over the next month and  half, they were to become the new darlings of international cricket.

  Clubbed with hosts West Indies, Pakistan and Zimbabwe, the Irish unknowns were naturally written off by pundits and laymen alike even before they had set foot. It did not matter that Ireland had beaten two of their group rivals on the 50-over scene earlier. They had come off a poor World Cricket League outing in Nairobi and were just not meant to make it to the second round.

  However, a mere five days into the tournament, Ireland tore the form book and awakened the ignorant from their slumber. Back home, few were even aware that the national team was at the World Cup. The men in green first tied with Zimbabwe and then memorably dispatched Pakistan on St. Patrick’s Day. Not only did they enter the second round, they did it with a game to spare.

  On 5th March, 2007, 12 days before they knocked Pakistan out, Ireland took on mighty South Africa in the first of two warm-up fixtures. The Proteas had been freshly crowned as the world’s top-ranked ODI side, toppling defending World Cup champions Australia off their perch, if only briefly. Incidentally, South Africa were the first Test nation that Ireland ever beat, back in 1904.

  The scene for this warm-up match was the nondescript Sir Frank Worrell Memorial Ground in the town of Saint Augustine – having a population of less than 5,000 – in north-western Trinidad and Tobago. Each side had the liberty to play up to 13 players, of which 11 could bat and field. South Africa were at full strength, and were widely expected to win in a canter.

dave-langford-smith_2007

        Irish pace bowler Dave Langford-Smith celebrates after dismissing South Africa’s A.B de Villiers in a 2007 World Cup warm-up match (source – gettyimages)

  After Graeme Smith elected to bat first, Irish pluck came to the fore in the form of Sydney-born fast bowler David Langford-Smith, who had become the first Irishman to take an ODI wicket nine months before, when he dismissed a certain Ed Joyce at Belfast. He set the tone by removing Smith, caught behind by Niall O’Brien with the total at 15.

  Eleven runs later, Langford-Smith collected his second scalp, breaking through the defences of Abraham de Villiers, who was still a few years away from being christened as cricket’s ‘Mr. 360’. It got even better when the great Jacques Kallis too failed to read Langford-Smith’s medium pace, losing his woodwork in the process. The triple strike had reduced South Africa to 42/3.

  Herschelle Gibbs seemed to be in an attacking mood, having belted four boundaries in his 21, when the resolute Trent Johnston stopped him in his tracks by castling him to make it 57/4. Gibbs was the first of Johnston’s four victims, as the Wollongong-born Irish captain proceeded to make a mockery of the South African middle order with his tricky seam bowling.

  The wicket of Ashwell Prince ensured that the top five of the South African line-up were back in the hut with only 64 on the board. Ireland’s glee was soon escalated when the dangerous Shaun Pollock nicked one to the keeper and Loots Bosman got clean bowled in the same Johnston over. The number one ODI team had lost five for nine, and were now tottering at an unthinkable 66/7.

  As long as Mark Boucher was there in the middle, the innings had every chance of a revival. But John Mooney’s innocuous medium pace induced him to offer a catch to Kevin O’Brien, one of the better fielders in the Irish side. Ireland’s joy knew no bounds as South Africa were left gasping for breath at 91/8. Was an upset on the cards even before the tournament started?

  Andrew Hall thought otherwise though. The all-rounder, who came in at the fall of the seventh wicket, calmly rebuilt from the rubble with an unbeaten 67 off 98 balls. He found support from Robin Peterson, and together they frustrated the Irish with a ninth-wicket stand worth 85. South Africa-born Andre Botha, who played first-class cricket for Griqualand West, took the last two wickets.

trent-johnston_2007

      Irish captain Trent Johnston, who took 4/40, exults after taking the wicket of Ashwell Prince at St. Augustine (source – gettyimages)

  South Africa recovered to post 192 in exactly 50 overs, a total that was certainly within the realm of possibility for Ireland to chase. Johnston finished with 4/40 from ten overs while Langford-Smith collected 3/30 from eight. It was now up to the batsmen to deliver and supplement such a fine display by the bowlers, South Africa’s rearguard notwithstanding.

  Jeremy Bray perished early, caught behind off speedster Andre Nel for a single, but fellow opener William Porterfield held the innings together with a composed 37 despite losing Eoin Morgan and Niall O’Brien at the other end, both falling to Hall. It was Roger Telamachus who dislodged Porterfield, caught by Smith, to put Ireland in a dicey situation at 85/4.

  Kevin O’Brien then joined Botha in the middle, and the pair guided Ireland to a position of real strength with a fifth-wicket partnership of 54. Only 54 runs now separated the underdogs from an astonishing victory, and they still had six wickets in hand. Botha’s caught-behind dismissal to Nel for 40 however gave South Africa the opening they so desperately needed.

  The inexperience of the Irish batsmen proved to be their undoing and they suffered a meltdown, thus squandering their grip on the contest. The lower order failed to capitalise on the gains made thus far as pacemen Hall (3/30) and Charl Langeveldt (4/31) combined to dispose the last five wickets for just 11 runs. Kevin O’Brien tried his best to hang around, but was ninth out for 33.

  The Irish innings wound up at 157 in 44.2 overs, leaving South Africa relived victors by a narrow margin of 35 runs. Ireland’s bowlers, led by Langford-Smith (4/41) starred again in the second warm-up game against Canada three days later to help secure an easy seven-wicket win for their side.

  It may have just been a warm-up and Ireland may have snatched defeat from the jaws of victory, but the spirit that emanated from their performance against a star-studded outfit that day was carried right into the tournament, during which they delighted their supporters and made the cricket world sit up and take notice of their exploits. Irish cricket was never the same again.

Match Scorecard

Specials – Revisiting the best of Rachael Heyhoe-Flint

  Rachael Heyhoe-Flint, who passed away on 18th January at the age of 77, was a pioneer of women’s cricket and an undisputed great of the game. Due to her noteworthy achievements as a successful captain of England, an administrator and a vocal crusader of gender equality, she has left an indelible mark on the game and the way it is run today.

  Heyhoe-Flint was a major catalyst in the ideation of the first Women’s World Cup in 1973, which predated the inaugural men’s edition by two years. As if this was not enough, she went on to lead England to victory in the tournament. In 1998, she actively campaigned for the path-breaking vote that allowed women to become members of the hallowed Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC).

  Born in Wolverhampton, Heyhoe-Flint was a first-rate top-order batswoman who played 22 Tests and 23 ODIs in an international career that spanned from 1959-60 to 1981-82. Her tally of 1594 Test runs, scored at an average of 45.54, is currently the third-highest in the women’s game, while her ODI average of 58.45 still remains the highest among those who played at least 20 innings.

  Captaincy came calling for the first time in 1966, when she took over the reins for the home series against New Zealand. Never in her 12 Tests in charge did she taste defeat. In 2010, she was christened a peer in the House of Lord’s, thus taking the title of Baroness Heyhoe-Flint. In the same year, she became the first female inductee in the ICC Cricket Hall of Fame.

rachael-heyhoe-flint

       Rachael Heyhoe-Flint – a pioneer of the game who took on the establishment for the sake of a better future for women’s cricket (source – gettyimages/centralpress)

  While her impact was felt beyond the cricketing field, the genesis of Heyhoe-Flint’s commendable journey lay in her credentials as one of the finest batswomen the world has seen. As a tribute to her inspirational career as the first truly iconic female cricketing personality, we look back, in chronological order, at five of her most significant performances for England.

113 and 59* v New Zealand, Scarborough, 1966

  Heyhoe-Flint celebrated her first Test in charge with her maiden century for England. She followed her 113 – which remained her highest score for a decade – in the first innings with an unbeaten half-century in the second. Though the match ended in a dour draw, the new captain led from the front – something which would be repeated several times in the years to come. 

76 and 68 v Australia, Adelaide, 1968-69

  England had secured a series win over Australia after 26 years in 1963, but the challenge now was to defend the ‘Ashes’ (not until 1998 were series between the two nations officially called the Women’s Ashes) five-and-a-half years later in Australia. Heyhoe-Flint had since taken over as captain and was a vital cog as far as the hopes of England, playing in Australia after 12 years, were concerned.

  The skipper duly made a mark in the first Test at the Barton Oval in Adelaide. Coming in at number three, she produced a knock of 76, sharing in a second-wicket stand of 127 with debutante Enid Blakewell (113). With her team trailing by 69, she averted any potential second-innings awkwardness with a patient 68, thus beginning her first overseas series as captain with twin fifties.

114 v Young England, Ilford, 1973

  Heyhoe-Flint’s only ODI century came at the 1973 World Cup against Young England, which was essentially a team made up of U-25 players. She rescued England from a tricky 55/3 with a resolute 114, making up nearly half of her team’s total of 231/6 in the allotted 60 overs. Set a rain-revised target of 152 from 39 overs, Young England went down by 50 runs.

rachel-heyhoe-flint-009

       In 2010, Rachael Heyhoe-Flint became the first female cricketer to be inducted into the ICC Cricket Hall of Fame (source – gettyimages)

64 v Australia, Edgbaston, 1973

  The inaugural Women’s World Cup was a seven-team round-robin affair, with the title going to the league topper. England and Australia, respectively having 16 and 17 points, played the concluding match at Edgbaston, which was in effect the final. England’s only loss in the tournament had come at the hands of New Zealand.

  Luck favoured Heyhoe-Flint at the toss and she had no hesitation in deciding to bat. With opener Blakewell (118) for company, she was involved in a partnership worth 117 for the second wicket that took the wind out of Australia’s sails. She was eventually dismissed for a busy 64, playing her part in England’s strong total of 279/3, which was enough by 92 runs for a memorable World Cup title.

179 v Australia, The Oval, 1976

  Heyhoe-Flint fittingly produced her career-best score when her team was in adversity against the old enemy. England had been the ‘Ashes’ holders since 1963, but their defence was under serious threat after they were bundled out for a paltry 134 on the first day of the third Test at the Oval. The visitors further seized the advantage by racking up 379 on the board.

  The third and final day belonged to the captain as she staged a remarkable second-dig rescue act, batting for nearly nine hours in compiling a stonewalling 179. England were in a dire position at 76/3, still 169 in arrears, but Heyhoe-Flint went on undeterred, shepherding her side to 326 and a series-saving draw. Her effort was then the second-best score in a Women’s Test.

  From being the first woman to hit a six in a Test in 1963 to becoming the first woman to be elected to the full committee of the MCC in 2004, Rachael Heyhoe-Flint’s association with cricket encompassed an array of accomplishments and broke many a barrier. She will always be remembered as the visionary who foresaw a brighter future for every aspiring female cricketer.

Specials – Cricket’s Christmas XI

  The silly season is upon us, and in keeping with the festive spirit, let us look at a team of eleven first-class cricketers with names having a Christmas connection. Here’s presenting our all-time Christmas XI.

1) Jacques Rudolph

  He may not be red-nosed, but South African southpaw Jacques Rudolph is an apt choice to form one half of our opening pair. Having promised much after scoring an unbeaten 222 on Test debut at Chittagong in 2003, he eventually went on to have a middling international career that saw its last in 2012. He is currently captain of Glamorgan on the English county circuit.

2) Noel McGregor

  Otago veteran Spencer Noel McGregor was part of the first New Zealand team to win a Test match, against the West Indies at Auckland in 1955-56. Six years later, he scored a crucial 68 in New Zealand’s first away win, in Cape Town. With a name that translates to quite a few Christmas-related connotations, he has earned his place in the side. 

3) Ian Bell (captain)

  It has been a year since Ian Bell went out of favour with the England think-tank, but nothing can take away his contributions in the past decade. Be it the match-winning ton at Durban in 2009-10 or his exemplary batting in the 2013 Ashes, this Bell has often taken a toll on the opposition. His experience as Warwickshire’s captain makes him the right candidate to lead the Christmas XI.

christmas-cricket                   ‘Tis the season to be jolly (source – southgatecc.com) 

4) Mark Nicholas

  The Santa of our team is Mark Nicholas, who is renowned today for being a popular television commentator. He was the captain of Hampshire from 1985 to 1995 and one of their middle-order mainstays during that period. Though he never played for England, he had the satisfaction of scoring more than 18,000 runs in first-class cricket.

5) Marcus North

  Until his retirement in 2014, Marcus North provided a valuable all-round option to many a first-class side – he played for Western Australia as well as five English counties. He had a dream start to his short Test career, scoring a match-winning 117  at Johannesburg in 2008-09, and also ensured that his name was put up on the neutral honours board at Lord’s a year later.

6) Tony Frost (wicketkeeper)

  The wicketkeeping duties for the Christmas XI lie with bespectacled Tony Frost, who played for Warwickshire from 1997 to 2009. He was a dependable batsman as well; his career-best of 242* coming against Essex at Chelmsford in 2008, a season in which he successfully returned from a retirement announced two year back.

7) Billy Midwinter 

  The winter solstice (midwinter) falls a few days before Christmas. Born in England, all-rounder Billy Midwinter migrated to Australia, for whom he played in the inaugural Test and had the distinction of bagging Test cricket’s first fifer. He went on to play for England as well. He was famously kidnapped by WG Grace, who wanted him to play for Gloucestershire rather than the Australians, in 1878.

8) John Snow

  Leading the bowling attack is England’s John Snow, who was one of the finest fast bowlers in the world at his peak. He was at his best during the 1970-71 Ashes in Australia, where he finished with 31 wickets – 15 more than anyone else – at 22.83, including a searing, career-best 7/40 at Sydney. Caught-behind dismissals reading ‘c Frost, b Snow’ would surely make for fascinating viewing.

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        England’s Ian Bell – the captain of the all-time Christmas XI (source – foxsports.com.au)

9) Ian Bishop

  The clergy gets its due in the form of Ian Bishop, the tall Trinidadian who would have ended with a lot more than 161 Test wickets if not for constant back troubles. He impressed early, taking 6/87 against India in only his second Test. His best display came at Perth in the decider of the 1992-93 Frank Worrell Trophy, where he took 6/40 in the second innings to bowl the West Indies to an innings win.

10) Paul Wiseman

  The Christmas XI can certainly afford a wise man, if not three. The lead spin bowler of our team is offie Paul Wiseman, who starred on Test debut by taking seven wickets to help New Zealand win at Colombo in 1998. He however played second fiddle to Daniel Vettori throughout his career, and was not picked after 2004-05.

11) Jo Angel

  Rounding off the eleven is Jo Angel, a 6’6″ tall fast bowler who collected 419 wickets – currently the fourth-highest tally in the history of the Sheffield Shield – for Western Australia from 1991-92 to 2003-04. He could not translate his first-class consistency at the highest level though, and played only seven times in all for Australia.

Honorary mention: It would be a disservice to conclude this post without a reference to David Christmas, a medium pacer who played 14 List A matches for Lincolnshire from 1991 to 2004. He is, rather unsurprisingly, nicknamed ‘Father’. 

  Season’s greetings to one and all.

Specials – Best of the Tests: New Zealand v Pakistan

  Pakistan’s 13th Test tour of New Zealand is underway, with the first of two Tests having been played at the Hagley Oval in Christchurch. New Zealand has been a happy hunting ground for Pakistani teams over the years – prior to the start of the ongoing series, they have won ten and lost five of the 29 Tests they have played there.

  Overall, the two sides have met 53 times, with Pakistan winning 24 matches to New Zealand’s eight. New Zealand have won only two series against Pakistan, and the latest of them came 32 years ago. In this post, we relive five of the best Test matches played between the two teams, in chronological order.

Third Test, Dunedin, 1984-85

  Pakistan had beaten New Zealand at home in December 1984, and found themselves southbound for a return series the very next month. New Zealand were up 1-0 coming into this final Test of the rubber at Carisbrook. The second Test at Auckland had seen the debut of Wasim Akram, who would go on to become the most successful visiting bowler in New Zealand.

  Pakistan’s first-innings total of 274 was built around a third-wicket stand of 141 between Qasim Umar (96) and captain Javed Miandad (79). The last eight wickets fell for just 33, with Richard Hadlee (6/51) doing the bulk of the damage. 18-year-old Wasim then showed the first glimpse of his fast bowling prowess, taking 5/56 to help bowl New Zealand out for 220.

  Umar top-scored for the visitors in the second dig as well, compiling  a solid 89 that aided in a recovery from 76/4 to 223. Set 278 to win, New Zealand were in disarray at 23/4 as the top order caved in to Wasim. Martin Crowe (84) and Jeremy Coney staged a remarkable comeback, putting on 157 for the fifth wicket.

  Yet, at 228/8, Pakistan were in pole position to level the series. Coney, who remained unbeaten on a lionhearted 111, and Ewan Chatfield however put paid to the visitors’ hopes – they added 50* to script a two-wicket win for their side. Wasim grabbed 5/72 to return a haul of 10/128 and earned the man of the match award. This remains New Zealand’s only series win at home against Pakistan.

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       Waqar Younis (left) and Wasim Akram combined to bowl Pakistan to a sensational win at Hamilton in 1992-93 (source – wellpitched.com)

Only TestHamilton, 1992-93

  A brilliant exhibition of pace bowling handed Pakistan an extraordinary victory in this one-off Test at Seddon Park. New Zealand started on a bright note – they reduced Pakistan to 12/3 after winning the toss. Skipper Miandad came to the rescue with 92, with the eventual total being a respectable 216. Left-arm pacer Murphy Su’a returned a career-best 5/73.

  In reply, the hosts rode on a sedulous century from opener Mark Greatbatch. He showed great application, batting for seven hours in making 133 – more than half of the team total of 264 – and shared in an opening stand of 108 with Blair Hartland. Wasim and Waqar Younis served an appetiser of what was still to come, by sharing seven wickets between them.

  Bolstered by New Zealand’s valuable lead of 48, Danny Morrison (5/41) jolted the top order early on the third day. Inzamam-ul-Haq rose to the challenge, as he uplifted his team from the pits of 39/5 with a pugnacious 75. His partnership with Rashid Latif, worth 80 for the sixth wicket, carried Pakistan to 174. New Zealand faced a routine target of 127 with more than two days left.

  Wasim ensured that the chase had a dicey start, as he pinched three cheap wickets to leave New Zealand at 39/3 at the end of day three. As the fourth day commenced after a rain delay, Andy Jones and Adam Parore battled to take the score to 65/3 before Younis removed the former. Wasim soon sent Parore back, and suddenly the road to the target was looking arduous.

  From that point onward, it was mayhem – Wasim (5/45) and Waqar (5/22) combined to produce a breathtaking effort, rendering the Kiwis helpless with their combative pace and deadly swing. New Zealand lost 7 for 28 to capitulate to 93 all out; Mr. Extras top-scoring with 22. Waqar, playing his 20th Test, also reached the 100-wicket mark wickets during his spell.

Third Test, Christchurch, 1993-94

  Pakistan had already secured the series after comprehensive wins at Auckland and Wellington. The two Ws – Wasim and Waqar – proved to be New Zealand’s nemeses yet again in the first two Tests, bagging 20 and 11 wickets respectively. However, New Zealand salvaged pride at Lancaster Park, achieving a record five-wicket win early on the final day.

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         Bryan Young (left) and Shane Thomson struck maiden centuries in New Zealand’s highest successful run chase, at Christchurch in 1993-94 (source – odt.co.nz)

  Openers Saeed Anwar (69) and Aamir Sohail (60) laid a strong platform for Pakistan by adding 125 runs, before Basit Ali (103) continued the good work, racing to his first and only Test hundred. The visitors accumulated a robust 344 on the board and New Zealand had their task cut out.

  The hosts were going well at 109/1 with Andrew Jones (81) looking in fine fettle, but Waqar, not for the first time, inspired a collapse that gave Pakistan a first-innings cushion of 144. The ‘Burewala Express’ sped to a return of 6/78. Pakistan themselves folded for 179 on the third day, failing to recover from 53/4 despite Basit’s 67. Morrison took 4/66, extending his match analysis to 8/171.

  New Zealand were thus set 324 to win with more than two days still available. Opener Bryan Young dropped anchor at one end, but Pakistan were firm favourites at 133/4. Shane Thomson came in at number six, and went on to share in a match-winning partnership of 154 with Young. Both ultimately reached their maiden Test hundreds.

  While Young was out for 120, Thomson remained unbeaten on the same score, steering New Zealand to their highest successful Test chase. They played contrasting innings – Young batted for nearly seven hours, soaking the pressure, whereas Thomson struck at 72 runs per 100 balls. The duo adeptly negated the threat of Wasim and Waqar and were successful in denying Pakistan a clean sweep.

First Test, Lahore, 1996-97

  New Zealand began the series with a rare success in Pakistan – they had won only once before in the country, which was also at the Gaddafi Stadium, during their first ever series win in 1969-70. Moreover, they ended a barren run of 15 winless Tests – eight defeats and seven draws – over the last two years.

  Wasim, who was now the captain, missed the match due to a shoulder injury and Saeed Anwar took over in his stead. Lee Germon called correctly, but his team’s batsmen could not cope with the low bounce of the pitch. New Zealand crashed to 83/6 and on to 155 all out, with Waqar and leg-spinner Mushtaq Ahmed taking four wickets apiece.

  However, towards of the first day, New Zealand were right back in the contest after having reduced the hosts to 37/5. Medium pacer Simon Doull was the wrecker-in-chief as he made short work of the the top order, eventually ending with figures of 5/46. A spunky 59 from Moin Khan revived the innings to an extent and ensured a narrow lead of 36 for his team.

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     Shane Bond dismisses Mohammad Yousuf caught and bowled at Dunedin in 2009-10. New Zealand won by 32 runs (source – wikiwand.com)

  In the second innings, New Zealand were in a worrying position of 101/5 early on the third day. Ahmed was proving to be difficult to negotiate, until Chris Cairns joined Stephen Fleming. They stitched together 141 for the sixth wicket to turn the game. Fleming scored 92*, while Cairns hit 93 at better than a run a ball. When on seven, Cairns was dropped by Inzamam at gully.

  New Zealand were bowled out for 311, with Ahmed taking 6/84 (10/143 in the match). Chasing 276, Pakistan were on the mat at 46/5 by stumps, which became 60/6 on day four. Debutant Mohammad Wasim gave his side some hope, scoring 109* from number seven. But he could not find enough support and Pakistan lost by 44 runs. Dipak Patel took 4/36 while Doull ended with 8/85 in the match.

First Test, Dunedin, 2009-10

  The University Oval witnessed an exciting Test match that had its share of twists and turns. Pakistan’s pace attack had done well to have New Zealand at 211/6, before Brendon McCullum (78) and captain Daniel Vettori (99) took charge with a seventh-wicket stand worth 164. Earlier, Martin Guptill (60) and Ross Taylor put on 117 for the third wicket.

  These efforts enabled New Zealand to swell their total to 429. Pakistan began poorly in reply, slipping to 85/5 courtesy some fine bowling from speedster Shane Bond (5/107). 19-year-old Umar Akmal, who went on to score a breezy 129 on debut, joined forces with his elder brother Kamran (82) and the pair added a vital 176 for the sixth wicket, boosting Pakistan’s total to 332.

  Pakistan’s pacemen delivered timely blows in the second innings as well, and this time there was no lower-order fightback. Only Taylor (59) showed up as New Zealand were bundled out for 153 early on the final day, thus setting up an interesting chase. Mohammad Asif took 4/43, giving himself 8/151 in the match. Pakistan required 251 for victory.

  Bond and Chris Martin had Pakistan at 24/3 before Umar Akmal (75) put his hand up again. He shared in stands of 71 with captain Mohammad Yousuf for the fourth wicket and 66 with Shoaib Malik for the fifth. But at 195/5, he was caught and bowled by Bond (who had a match haul of 8/153 in what was his last Test). The last five wickets fell for just 23, leaving New Zealand victors by 32 runs.