Who Would Have Thought It – The day the Barramundis ran amok

  As many as 16 teams took part in the 1986 ICC Trophy in England, vying for the single spot available for non-Test nations in the 1987 World Cup. It was Zimbabwe who ultimately made it, defeating the Netherlands in the final to qualify for their second successive World Cup.

  The tournament featured plenty of lopsided matches as the superior teams proved to be too strong for the weaker ones. Eventual semifinalists Bermuda thumped Fiji by 235 runs and then Hong Kong by 227, Zimbabwe brushed Argentina aside by 207 runs while the Netherlands walloped Israel by 267 runs.

  Papua New Guinea, who had finished a creditable fourth in the previous edition in 1982, were routed by the Dutch by 219 runs in their opening game at Wolverhampton. However, none of these results came close to the thrashing that the Barramundis themselves inflicted upon Gibraltar on 18th June at the Cannock and Rugeley Cricket Club ground.

  Both the teams were winless coming into this 60-overs-a-side match. Papua New Guinea were captained by Api Leka while Gibraltar were led by William Scott. Charles Amini Sr, father of modern-day regulars Chris and Charles Jr, set the tone with a vigorous, career-best 97 while opening the innings. The highest scorer of the innings was Babani Harry, who made 127 from number three.

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  Scott, aged 45, gave his side some hope with the wickets of Amini, William Maha and Raki Ila, but Papua New Guinea were in no mood to relent. Leka kept up the good work with a knock of 69 from number six while Renagi Ila blasted an unbeaten 60 from number seven – both being their respective career-best scores.

  Despite the best efforts of slow left-arm orthodox bowler Gary De’Ath, who took 5/88 in his allotted 12 overs, Papua New Guinea racked up a massive total of 455/9 – which is the highest total of all time in the ICC Trophy. The previous record was 408/7 by Bermuda against Hong Kong just five days earlier.

  As if facing a required run rate of 7.60 an over was not enough, the pace duo of Guma Ravu and Tuku Raka made a mess of the Gibraltar top order. Ravu in particular bowled incisively, collecting 4/16 in 11 overs and the hapless Gibraltar batsmen had no answer to his skills. Maha kept up the pressure as he ripped through the middle and lower order with 5/12 in six overs.

  49-year-old Salvador Perez played a lone hand, top-scoring with 30 from number six, before he too succumbed to Maha. Only three batsmen reached double figures as Gibraltar were shot out for a paltry 86 in 34 overs. The victory margin of 369 runs created a new ICC Trophy record, bettering Bermuda’s 284-run win over Malaysia in 1982. 

  However, this match did not enjoy List A status. Currently, the highest margin of victory in a List A match is 346, achieved by Somerset against Devon at Torquay in 1990. Interestingly, Gibraltar were beaten heavily by Papua New Guinea in the 1982 ICC trophy as well – a nine-wicket defeat after being bowled out for just 55.

  Coming back to the 1986 edition, Papua New Guinea produced another dominating performance in their next match, defeating Israel by 277 runs after posting 377/6 at Worcester. Harry struck his second successive century, this time a career-best of 162.

  Despite further wins over Fiji and Hong Kong, Papua New Guinea failed to progress from a tough Group B and finished fifth out of nine teams with four wins and as many defeats. It was only in 2014 that the Barramundis secured ODI status for the first time, and today they are ranked 16th in the world. 

Match Scorecard

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