Who Would Have Thought It – Ireland’s first and only Test match

  Ireland may have set a target to become a Test team by 2020, but the fact is that the country has already been represented in official Test cricket quite a few years ago. Moreover, not only have Ireland played Test cricket, but they also boast of a 100% winning record.

  The match in question was a solitary Test between Ireland Women and Pakistan Women played at College Park in Dublin and which lasted just two days – 30th and 31st July, 2000. Ireland then were a clearly stronger outfit than Pakistan on the women’s circuit, and the gulf between the sides showed in the result.

  The ODI series preceding this four-day Test featured a string of heavy Irish successes. The hosts began by skittling Pakistan for 95 en route to a nine-wicket win in the first ODI, which was followed by wins with margins of 117 and 150 runs in the next two games. In tough conditions and facing a buoyant home side, the visitors were up against it from the word go.

  While Ireland were on Test debut, the Pakistani women had played one Test match before – against Sri Lanka in 1997-98, in which they were thumped by 309 runs. Led by the seasoned Miriam Grealey, the Irish side for this landmark match bore a mix of youth and experience, the average age being 27.

  The youngest member of the eleven was Isobel Joyce, who stepped down as Irish captain in March 2016. Joyce had just turned 17 and went on to deliver a wonderful bowling performance in this match. She was not even 16 when she made her ODI debut, against India in 1999, and till date remains one of the mainstays of the Ireland team.

  Amid moist conditions following overnight rain, Pakistan captain Shaiza Khan elected to bat on winning the toss, a decision she was probably left to rue. Medium pace bowler Barbara McDonald dominated the early proceedings, as she destroyed Pakistan’s top order with a testing spell of 3/9.

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     A 17-year-old Isobel Joyce starred in Ireland’s inaugural Test with a brilliant bowling display (source – broadsheet.ie)

  McDonald’s burst ensured that Pakistan lost four wickets – including that of the captain – for as many runs to crash to 10/4, the remaining wicket going to leg-spinner Ciara Metcalfe. At the other end, off-spinner Catherine O’Neill gobbled the fifth wicket and Pakistan were staring down the barrel at 21/5.

  Opener Zehmerad Afzal – who presently plays for Cheshire – tried to dig in and shared in a partnership of 29 for the sixth wicket with Deebah Sherazi. However, the latter’s dismissal by O’Neill (3/15) triggered another collapse, as Pakistan succumbed to spin. O’Neill and Metcalfe, who finished with 4/26, made short work of the tail.

  Pakistan lost their last five wickets for just three runs to be bundled out for 53, consuming a painstaking 47.4 overs. Only two women reached double figures, Afzal top-scoring with an obdurate 25. Ireland’s bowling was both stifling and penetrative, as evidenced by 25 maiden overs. Though Saibh Young went wicketless, she conceded only a run in her ten overs.

  Ireland lost Clare O’Leary to Sharmeen Khan for a duck with only five runs on the board, but Pakistan failed to build on this start. Karen Young (58) and Caitriona Beggs (68*) put the game beyond Pakistan’s reach as they added 112 for the second wicket. Nazia Nazir took two wickets, but it hardly unsettled the Irishwomen.

  Wicketkeeper Anne Linehan (27*) belted a few quick runs as Ireland set their sights upon a declaration. With the score reading 193/3 in 47 overs, Brealey decided it was enough, especially since there was always a possibility of rain hampering her team’s onward charge. With a lead of 140 on the first day itself, Ireland were well on top.

  Pakistan reshuffled their batting order for the second innings, but it hardly helped. Sheerazi, promoted to open, was cleaned up by McDonald as the eventful first day drew to a close. A circumspect Pakistan ended the day at 8/1, facing an uphill task to stay alive in the contest.

  The second day belonged to the teeanged Joyce, whose left-arm medium pace proved to be too hot to handle for the visitors. There was no play before lunch due to rain and when the match resumed, Joyce took full advantage of the seam-friendly conditions.

  Joyce began by bowling Sajjida Shah and trapping Nazir LBW, both for ducks, to reduce Pakistan to 8/3. She followed it up by having the talented Kiran Baluch caught behind. Khursheed Jabeen and Afzal attempted a revival by adding 34 for the fifth wicket, but the writing was already on the wall. 

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     Caitriona Beggs top-scored for Ireland in their inaugural Test with an unbeaten 68 (source – womenscricket.net) 

  Afzal top-scored for Pakistan again with 20, before she became the first of three wickets to fall to O’Neill (3/12) while the score regressed from 56/4 to 62/7. Jabeen stoically faced 156 balls, but could manage no more than 13 runs as Joyce returned to complete the last rites.

  The last three wickets all fell bowled to Joyce as Pakistan’s agony came to an end after 54.1 overs, in which they crawled to a total of 86. Joyce, who did not bowl in the first innings and came in only as the fifth bowler in the second, finished with remarkable figures of 6/21 in 11.1 overs.

  Ireland had won their first ever Test match by an innings and 54 runs in less than two days. While Ireland had galloped at 4.11 runs an over, Pakistan managed a rate of just 1.36 across both innings. Joyce was named as the player of the match for her bowling effort. It could not have been a better start.

  Due to the Test getting over in double-quick time, two additional ODI matches were played at the same ground as an extension of the original series. Ireland won the first of these while the second was washed out, giving the home team a 4-0 win in the five-match series. 

  Unfortunately, Ireland’s inaugural Test also turned out to be their last. Women’s Test cricket across the world has gradually declined ever since, and today, except for Australia and England and to a certain extent India, it is virtually a dead concept. The rise of Twenty20 has instead given women’s cricket a highly feasible format.

  Ireland’s women are not alone to have enjoyed a successful start in Test cricket without going on to play their next. Sri Lanka too have never played a Test after beating Pakistan in the aforementioned match. Pakistan themselves have played only three Tests in all and none since 2004. 

  As the Ireland men’s team gears up for the prospect of Test cricket within the next three years, let us not forget their female counterparts’ commendable achievement of winning their first official Test match in resounding fashion sixteen years ago.

Match Scorecard

Who Would Have Thought It – Revisiting a Franco-German cliffhanger

  Footballing giants France and Germany played out the latest round of their long-standing rivalry in the semifinal of the UEFA Euro Championship last week, with hosts France securing a 2-0 win to make the final.

  Be it France’s 6-3 win in the 1958 World Cup or the thrilling penalty shootout in the semifinal of the 1982 World Cup, this all-European fixture has provided football fanatics with many a memorable moment over the years.

  While the Franco-German duel enjoys legendary status in football, one would rarely associate this fixture with a cricket match, let alone expect an entry for it in a coveted Wisden list. However, the final of a seemingly nondescript tournament in Switzerland produced a contest that would have made headlines had two established nations been involved.

  The 1997 edition of the 50-overs European Nations Cup was played at the Lyceum Alpinum school ground in the town of Zuoz in the third week of August. Austria, France, Germany, Greece, Malta and Portugal were the participants, besides hosts Switzerland. The semifinals saw France beat Portugal by seven wickets and Germany notch an eight-wicket win over Malta.

  Defending champions France and Germany were thus pitted against each other in the final, which was played on August 23, 1997. The two teams had earlier met in the group stage, where the Germans had easily won by seven wickets. It had only been less than seven years since the unification of Germany, whereupon it was made a member of the ICC in 1991.

  Wides and no-balls were the order of the day as France reached 61 without loss. Opener S. Palmer was looking settled at 35 when all-rounder Tayyab Rathore cleaned him up with his off-spin. Pace bowler Younis Khan (not the well-known Pakistani batsman) bowled an economical spell in the middle overs, taking two wickets as well, while opening bowler Saeed took 3/61.

  Even though extras were aplenty, the German bowlers ensured that no partnership was too big to allow the French to run away with the game – the highest stand of the innings being 52 for the fifth wicket. Leopold-Therese Brumant was the top scorer with 42 from number five, but nowhere near Mr. Extras, who tallied a staggering 67 runs out of the final total of 267 in 49.5 overs.

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  There was drama in the final over when last man David Bordes came out to bat without a helmet. A rising ball from Saeed struck him on the forehead; however he showed great presence of mind and determination in scampering a single. Moments later, he collapsed due to a fracture in his skull and had to be hospitalised for two weeks.

  Germany got off to an excellent start in reply, with Rathore and Shams Khan putting on 90 for the first wicket. Both the batsmen were in good form coming into the final – while Rathore scored 84* against France and 106* against Malta in the semifinal, Khan had creamed 200* out of a total of 467/1 against a hapless Switzerland.

  Rathore and Khan (45) however fell within three runs of each other as France clawed back into the contest. J. Howe removed the Bhatti brothers – Abdul Salim and Abdul Hamid – cheaply and when M. Mirza was run out for a duck, Germany were in real trouble at 118/5. Five wickets had fallen for just 28 runs.

  Younis (44) and A. Dar (45) turned the tables again, courtesy a partnership of 89 for the sixth wicket before the former fell to leg-spinner George James. Saeed hit a quick 22 from number eight to bolster his team’s hopes. At 241/6, it was anybody’s game and a close finish loomed large.

  Medium pace bowler Simon Hewitt, who had played for Oxford University in 1984, dismissed both Dar and Saeed in quick succession, the score now 260/9 in the 49th over. Brumant’s off-spin was entrusted with the last over, and the target eventually whittled down to two off one ball. Number ten Burghard Patzwald missed the line and was stumped by Shabbir Hussain.

  Germany had fallen short by just one run, losing their final wicket off the last ball of the innings. France’s title triumph could not have been closer than this. Mr. Extras top-scored in this innings as well, with a neat 58. Hewitt was the pick of the bowlers with 3/44 while Brumant bowled splendidly, collecting 2/16 in his ten overs.

  The eventual margin of victory emphasised how crucial Bordes’ plucky single was. This thrilling match was honoured by Wisden in 2000 as one of the ‘hundred matches of the century’. The incident involving Bordes certainly added to the intrigue. Bordes, a leg-spinner, went on to play an important role in French cricket as a coach and selector.

  The 1998 Wisden Cricketers’ Almanack remarked the following, which also found a mention in The Essential Wisden: An Anthlogy of 150 Years of Wisden Cricketers’ Almanack, published in 2014:

  “France retained the Nations Cup at Zuoz, Switzerland, in astonishing circumstances. They beat Germany by one run in a pulsating 50-over final. The unwitting hero was France’s last man, David Bordes, who was hit on the forehead, and staggered through for a single at the end of the French innings before collapsing with a fractured skull. He had to spend the next two weeks in hospital, and was ill for some time but, happily, was able to resume playing indoor cricket before Christmas. Bordes normally bats with a helmet but did not bother this time because he had only the one ball to face.”

Match Scorecard

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

Who Would Have Thought It – Last wicket exploits floor Western Province twice over

  One of the most intriguing matches in South Africa’s first-class cricket history was played across two calendar years in the 1925-26 Currie Cup. Orange Free State hosted Western Province in the sixth match of the season from December 31, 1925 to January 2, 1926 at the Ramblers Cricket Club Ground in Bloemfontein.  

  This was the second match of the season for both the teams. In their respective opening matches, which ended just two days earlier, Orange Free State had gone down narrowly by 27 runs at home to Griqualand West while Western Province were handed an innings-and-74-runs defeat by defending champions Transvaal at Johannesburg.  

  Wicketkeeper-batsman Thomas Holmes, captain of Orange Free State, elected to bat after winning the toss. Very soon, openers Mick Commaille – who played 12 Tests for South Africa – and Augustus Hewitt-Fox were dismissed by fast bowler Victor Veal with just nine runs on the board.

  Colin Marran and Leopold Cusworth combined for a third-wicket stand worth 54 to attempt a revival, but timely inroads by the Western Province bowlers meant that the score was soon reduced to 139/7.   The Reid brothers William (37) and Alfred put on 46 for the eighth wicket but both were out to Veal (4/68) within three runs of each other.

  The score now read 189/9 as last man Lancelot Fuller, who was hardly known for his batting skills, joined Lindsay Richard ‘Len’ Tuckett in the middle. Tuckett, who formerly played for Natal, had featured in one Test – which happened to be his only one – back in 1913-14 against England at Johannesburg, scoring 0 and 0* and bowling 20 overs without a wicket.  

  Fuller surprisingly launched into the bowling attack and Tuckett provided solid support at the other end. It all began to come apart for the Western Province bowlers after a hitherto polished effort. Taken aback by Fuller, the last wicket proved to be elusive.

  23-year-old Fuller looked set for a memorable hundred until debutant Theodore de Klerk trapped him leg-before for 84, much to his teammates’ relief. This was his first and only half-century in first-class cricket.  

  Tuckett struck an assured unbeaten 30 and the partnership fetched a bountiful 115 runs. The final total swelled to 303 at a healthy rate of 3.75 runs per over. 32 extras – 24 of them through byes and leg-byes – helped the home team’s cause.  

  The Western Province innings too began poorly, with openers Pieter van der Bijl (father of Vintcent, who is widely regarded as the finest bowler never to have played a Test) and Francis Godfrey dismissed early to make the score 10/2.

  All-rounder Denjis Morkel, who was to play 16 Tests in the near future, was the only batsman from the top order to show resistance. But Alfred Reid scalped him for 43 and just before stumps, Tuckett trapped Nicholas Blanckenburg in front with his fast-medium pace to leave the visitors struggling at 89/5 at the end of the first day.  

  As day two comenced, Tuckett continued from where he left and sent back Stephen Steyn and Veal in the same over to dent the innings further. Western Province were now tottering at 91/7 and staring at a huge deficit. However de Klerk, who had come out to bat late on the first day at number seven, went on to enjoy a fine debut innings which rescued his team.

  De Klerk found a willing ally in Ian Goulden (60) and the duo put together a vital 135 for the eighth wicket. De Klerk was out hit wicket for 79 – which remained his highest first-class score – and his effort enabled Western Province to reach 259. Tuckett was the pick of the bowlers with 4/99.

zfgj       Lindsay ‘Len’ Tuckett had the unique distinction of being a part of century partnerships for the tenth wicket in both innings of a first-class match (source – remembered.co.za)  

  The lead for Orange Free State was 44, which could have been less or more depending upon which of two rearguard efforts are taken into consideration. In the second innings, Commaille and Hewitt-Fox provided a sound start, putting on 38 before the former was dismissed.

  Hewitt-Fox (60) was in good touch and along with Marran he guided his side to 81/1 and a clear position of strength. However the match took another turn as the visiting bowlers scythed through the middle order with a powerful collective display.  

  Morkel, Veal and Goulden (3/58) all captured two wickets each to rattle the middle order as Orange Free State crashed to 108/7, which further became 121/9. Eight wickets had fallen for the addition of just 40 runs, and the lead was now only 165 with the final wicket standing.

  First-innings hero Fuller was promoted to number ten but he perished for a duck, bowled by Goulden. Tuckett was still there in the middle, but surely it was only a matter of time before the last wicket fell?  

  Frustratingly for Western Province, it was not to be. Tuckett had a different partner this time in the form of debutant Frank Caulfield. The most crucial rescue act of the game ensued, as the two milked the bowlers on their way to an astonishing partnership worth 129 runs. Orange Free State ended the second day at 212/9, ahead by 256. 

  Captain William Stephen broke the stand in the first session of the final day by having Tuckett LBW for 70 while Caulfield remained unbeaten on a heroic 56. The tenth-wicket stand fetched more than half of the eventual team total of 250. 

  This was the first and remains the only instance of a team recording century stands for the last wicket in both the innings of a first-class match. Across both innings, the tenth-wicket realised as much as 44.12 % of the total runs scored. The deflated visitors now ended up facing a target of 295.

  A pepped-up Caulfield struck early to remove Godfrey and van der Bijl and reduce the score to 34/2. Morkel (39) tried to defy the bowling but Caulfield (3/63) got the better of him as well. A lack of substantial partnerships hurt the chase and besides Archibald Palm, who scored a gritty 75, none of the batsmen stayed long enough to provide hopes for a win.

  Western Province were eventually bowled out for 248 and were left to rue at what might have been. Orange Free State’s last-wicket stand had twice managed to stem a crisis situation and ultimately overturned it into a 46-run victory.

  However, this was to be their only win of the season as they lost three of the next four games to finish sixth out of seven teams with six points. Western Province finished fifth with two wins and ten points.  

  Tuckett (1885-1963) played for Orange Free State till 1929-30 before calling a day on his two-decade-long first-class career at the age of 44. His son, also named Lindsay, played nine Tests for South Africa and is currently the oldest living Test cricketer at 96 years and 164 days. Joseph Cox, brother-in-law to the senior Tuckett, played three Tests in 1913-14.  

  Fuller too played first-class cricket till 1929-30 before dying at the young age of 44 in 1946. Caulfield, in spite of his match-winning debut, played only two more first-class matches and his career did not extend into the next season. He too died at a young age of 42 in 1936.

Match Scorecard – http://cricketarchive.com/Archive/Scorecards/11/11751.html

Who Would Have Thought It – A 15-year-old spinner’s sensational record

  On 23rd July, 2000, Sajjida Shah of Pakistan Women became the youngest cricketer to feature in an international match. At the bewildering age of 12 years and 171 days, the off-spinning all-rounder took the field against Ireland Women at Dublin to break the record held by Gargi Banerji, who was 14 years and 165 days when she debuted for India in 1977-78.

  Three years down the line, Shah enjoyed the most productive day of her career. Six second-tier nations – Pakistan, West Indies, Ireland, Scotland, Netherlands and Japan – were taking part in the International Women’s Cricket Council Trophy in Netherlands. Pakistan’s first match was on 21st July, 2003 at Amsterdam against newbies Japan, who were playing their first ever international.

   Pakistan finished at 181/6 in their 50 overs after captain Shaiza Khan elected to bat. The highest score was only 31, by opener Kiran Baluch, but there were as many as 54 extras – including a whopping 43 wides – given away by the debutantes. Khan scored an unbeaten 30 while Nazia Nazir chipped in with 24. Captain Kaori Kato, a medium pacer, was the pick of the bowlers with 2/25 in ten overs.

  Japan began their chase soundly, with openers Yuko Sasaki and Ema Kuribayashi putting on 21 for the first wicket, albeit with plenty of help from extras. What followed was arguably the most sensational collapse seen in any ODI match.

  Shah, now aged 15 years and 169 days, castled Sasaki and then trapped Kuribayashi leg before within the space of two runs. Both the openers made three runs each – which turned out to be the joint-highest individual scores of the innings.

  Shah’s off-breaks in tandem with Khursheed Jabeen’s slow left-arm were virtually unplayable for the Japanese novices, who were found to be woefully out of depth. Run-scoring became impossible in the literal sense as none of the remaining batswomen crossed even one run. With the score at 23/2, Jabeen removed Shizuka Kubota for one before Shah came back to further embarrass the debutantes. 

Karachi, PAKISTAN:  Pakistani bowler Sajjida Shah bowls during the second Women's Asia Cup match against India at the National Stadium in Karachi, 30 December 2005.  India won by 193 runs. AFP PHOTO/ Rizwan TABASSUM  (Photo credit should read RIZWAN TABASSUM/AFP/Getty Images)

      Sajjida Shah, the youngest person to play international cricket, destroyed Japan with a record spell as a 15-year-old in 2003 (source – rizwan tabassum/afp/gettyimages.co.uk)

  The teenager spun a web around the middle order, beginning with the wicket of Maki Kenjo, who was bowled for a duck – the first of six in the innings. Izumi Iimura too was bowled for no score.

  Aya Fujishiro soon followed as she popped a catch to captain Khan, giving Shah her first and only five-wicket haul in internationals. Japan had lost four wickets for no run and crashed to 23/6.

  Then with the score at 27, Jabeen claimed the wickets of Keiko Uchibori and Michiko Kono. She ended with a remarkable analysis of 10-8-2-3. Shah wrapped things up by crashing through the defences of Momoko Saito – who scored a rare single – and Ritsuko Hiroto in quick succession.

  Thus ended Japan’s agony – the innings had lasted for 34 overs, but yielded just 28 runs. Needless to say, 20 out of those 28 were extras. Japan had lost all their wickets for just seven runs.

  Shah finished with world record figures of 8-5-4-7, overhauling the twelve-year-old feat of Englishwoman Jo Chamberlain who took 7/8 against Denmark in a Women’s European Championship match at Haarlem in 1991.

  There have since been two other seven-wicket hauls in women’s ODIs, but Shah’s scarcely believable return will take some beating. In all international cricket (men and women), her figures are the second-best in an ODI after Chaminda Vaas’ 8/19 against Zimbabwe in 2001-02.

  No other Pakistani woman has claimed six wickets in an ODI. In fact, no Pakistani woman had claimed even five until Shah’s bamboozling spell. Pakistan’s win by 153 runs was their biggest at that point, before being surpassed by a 193-run win over Netherlands at Fatullah in 2011-12. 

  Interestingly, Japan’s total of 28 is not the lowest in women’s ODIs. That ignominy goes to Netherlands, who were shot out for 22 against the West Indies at Deventer in 2008. Until then, the lowest was Pakistan’s own 23 against Australia at Melbourne in 1996-97. Japan did not even cross 100 in any of their remaining four matches of the tournament, and have never played an ODI since.

  Shah has so far played in two Tests, 60 ODIs and eight T20Is. In her second Test against the West Indies at Karachi in 2003-04, she scored 98 and shared a record opening stand of 241 with Baluch, who scored a world record 242.

  She was part of the Pakistan team which played the Women’s World Cup in Australia in 2009. Her most recent international appearance came against India at Basseterre in the 2010 World Twenty20. 

Match Scorecard – http://www.espncricinfo.com/ci/engine/match/67342.html

WHO WOULD HAVE THOUGHT IT – A few World Cup curiosities

   The cricket World Cup always brings its share of strange and unexpected occurrences that make the average cricket fan sit up and take notice. Here is a list of 20 curiosities that have lent to the history of cricket’s premier limited-overs tournament:-

1) Women one step ahead

  The inaugural cricket World Cup was held in England in 1975, contested by eight teams over fifteen days. However, technically this was not the first cricket World Cup – the inaugural women’s World Cup was played two years prior in 1973, also in England.

2) Sunny opts for batting practice

  The first World Cup match was played between England and India at Lord’s. Replying to England’s 334/4, India only managed to crawl to 132/3 in their 60 overs.

  The great opener Sunil Gavaskar decided that the huge target was way beyond his team’s reach, and blocked his way to 36 not out from 174 balls. With this, he killed the contest as well the crowd’s appetite – a disgruntled spectator dumped his lunch at Gavaskar’s feet!

3) Match after mismatch

  In a group match in 1975, the West Indies crushed Sri Lanka by nine wickets in a lop-sided encounter at Old Trafford. Sri Lanka were bundled out for just 86 and the entire match lasted just 58 overs. As the match finished very early, the two teams entertained the crowd with an exhibition match.

4) Six and out

  The first World Cup final between Australia and the West Indies at Lord’s on 21st June 1975 was a thrilling affair. In the West Indian innings, a highly unusual dismissal took place – Roy Fredericks hooked Dennis Lillee for a six, only to realise that he had tread on his stumps while hitting the shot, resulting in him getting out hit wicket.

5) Confusion reigns at Lord’s

  Again in the same match in the Australian innings, a crowd invasion happened. With 24 needed off 11 balls, Australia’s last wicket seemed to have fallen when Jeff Thomson was caught. The spectators rushed onto the field thinking the match was over, but they failed to notice the no-ball signal.

Lillee And Thomson    Dennis Lillee and Jeff Thomson tried to take advantage of the lost ball and kept on running even as the crowd stormed onto the field in the 1975 final (source – alloutcricket.com)

  The ball was lost in the melee and the Australian batsmen, Thomson and Dennis Lillee kept on running for eternity. According to Lillee, they ran 17, but were eventually given four. One of the invaders even made off with umpire Dickie Bird’s white hat!

6) The big cat refuses to pounce

  Replying to the West Indies’ formidable 286/9, England were given a solid start from openers Mike Brearley and Geoff Boycott in the 1979 final at Lord’s. However, they batted so slowly that they put the rest of the batsmen under pressure.

  In fact, when the score had reached 79/0, West Indian captain Clive Lloyd dropped Boycott on purpose, because he thought it would be in his team’s interests to prolong the slow scoring for as long as possible!

7) The epic that was struck out

  Indian captain Kapil Dev played one of the great World Cup innings when he scored an unbeaten 175 out of a team total of 266/8 against Zimbabwe at the quaint Tunbridge Wells ground in 1983. The feat is all the more remarkable considering that India were 9/4 when he came out to bat, and the match was a must-win for his team.

  Unfortunately, there is no video footage available of this brilliant innings – the BBC, broadcasters of the tournament, had gone on strike that very day.

8) Courtney, the courteous one

  The group match between Pakistan and the West Indies at Lahore in 1987 went right down to the wire. Pakistan’s target was 217 and they began the last over still needing 14 to win with just one wicket left. The equation boiled down to two off the last ball.

  As Courtney Walsh came on to bowl, non-striker Salim Jaffar was way out of crease. But Walsh showed great sportsman spirit and chose not to run him out. Pakistan ultimately won the match and Walsh was gifted a carpet by a Pakistani fan for his magnanimity.

9) Hudson gets stumped

  After South Africa beat the West Indies in their 1992 match at Christchurch, Andrew Hudson took the middle stump as a souvenir and began rushing to the pavilion in celebration. It was only when he reached the gate that he realised he had taken the stump housing the mini television camera and was trailing ten metres of cable behind him!

10) Mother Nature to the rescue

  Had it not been for divine intervention, Pakistan would never have won the 1992 World Cup. In a league match against England at Adelaide, Pakistan were bowled for just 74. England, faced with an easy target, were 24/1 in reply when rain stopped play.

  The match could not be resumed and the two teams shared a point each. In a way, it was this one point that helped Pakistan sneak into the semifinals and eventually win the title.

11) A cruel knockout punch

zsadp     The scoreboard at the Sydney Cricket Ground flashes the revised remaining target for South Africa to achieve in the 1992 semifinal (source – gettyimages)

  South Africa impressed greatly in their first World Cup in 1992, finishing third in the league stage and thus setting up a semifinal with England. However, the ridiculous rain rule ensured that they were knocked out a tad unfairly in the semifinal at Sydney.

  In a 45-over match, England scored 252/6. South Africa fought well and needed 22 off 13 balls – quite an achievable equation – when rain arrived. After the rule was implemented, the equation was revised first to 22 off 7 and then to an absurd 22 off one ball.

12) Odumbe earns bragging rights

  First-timers Kenya pulled off one of the biggest World Cup shocks when they beat the West Indies by 73 runs at Pune in 1996. Maurice Odumbe, Kenya’s captain in the match, later recalled:

  “I met (West Indian great Brian) Lara at a match in England several years ago before he was in the West Indies team and asked for his autograph. He said he didn’t have the time. When we beat them in the World Cup I went up to him and said: ‘A few years ago I asked for your autograph and you wouldn’t give it. Now I am saying you can have mine.'”

13) A disgrace at the Eden

  The 1996 semifinal between India and Sri Lanka remains the only World Cup match to be awarded to a team by default. Replying to Sri Lanka’s 251/8, India suffered a major collapse and were tottering at 120/8 in the 35th over.

  A section of the crowd, unable to digest their team’s slide to defeat, shamefully began to throw bottles on the field and set the stands on fire. Match referee Clive Lloyd declared that Sri Lanka were winners by default, as it was not safe to continue with the game.

14) An experiment that did not connect

  The 1999 group match between India and South Africa at Hove was hit by controversy when it was found during the Indian innings that South African captain Hansie Cronje was receiving instructions from his team’s coach Bob Woolmer, who was in the dressing room, by means of an earpiece. The matter was referred to the match referee, and Cronje was promptly asked to remove the device.

15) All is fair in love and sport

  Faced with a small target of 111 against the West Indies at Old Trafford in 1999, Australia’s batsmen raised a few eyebrows when they took more than 40 overs to achieve the victory.

  Later, it was revealed that Australia purposely adopted a go-slow tactic as they did not want the West Indies’ run rate to go down, thereby helping them to qualify ahead of New Zealand for the Super Six round. Australia had earlier lost a group match to New Zealand, which would have a bearing on Australia’s standing, as points against qualified teams were carried forward.

zwaughu    Australian captain Steve Waugh defended his team’s controversial go-slow tactics against the West Indies in 1999. Waugh himself scored 19* off 73 balls (source – espncricinfo.com)

16) Innocent birds bear the brunt

  Two pigeons were unfortunately killed on the field during the Super Six match between Australia and India at the Oval in 1999. The first pigeon died when Australia’s Paul Reiffel threw the ball towards the stumps from the boundary, striking the creature. Later, a second pigeon fell victim when Ajay Jadeja edged ball to the boundary, hitting it on the way.

17) The greatest choke ever

  Host nation South Africa were knocked out in the worst possible fashion from the 2003 World Cup. In a must-win group match against Sri Lanka at Durban, the Duckworth/Lewis method came into play with rain falling steadily late in the South African innings. South Africa’s revised target was 230 from 45 overs.

  In the 45th over, Mark Boucher hit a six off the fifth ball and pumped his fist, believing that the job was done. He blocked the last ball – which proved be to costly, as South Africa had miscalculated the target to be 229. The match was tied as the crowd watched their team’s exit in shock.

18) Leverock becomes a cult hero

  Bermudan policeman Dwayne Leverock, weighing 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 at Port-of-Spain in 2007.

  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!”, commentator David Lloyd exclaimed on air.

19)  Gilchrist squashes the Lankans

  Australian great Adam Gilchrist pounded the Sri Lankan attack with a whirlwind knock of 149 from 104 balls in the 2007 World Cup final at Bridgetown. This title-clinching innings was studded with 13 fours and eight sixes.

  The secret to his powerful hitting turned out to be a squash ball, which he placed in the glove of his bottom hand and credited it for giving him a better grip. Australia won the match easily by 53 runs on the D/L method.

20) Running it equal

  In a remarkable occurrence, the last two cricket World Cups have each recorded the same number of total runs scored – exactly 21333 runs were scored in the 2007 (51 matches) as well as the 2011 edition (49 matches).

Who Would Have Thought It – Cambridge University’s path-breaking chase

  The 1896 University Match between the Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) and the Cambridge University was a remarkable one. Played at Lord’s between 25th and 27th June, 1896, this match created a record which was quite unimaginable in that day and age.

  The MCC side for this fixture had a decent look to it. Among their ranks were Kent’s opening batsman Alec Hearne and medium pace bowler Frederick Martin as well as the enigmatic Victoria and Middlesex all-rounder Albert Trott.

  The squad was led by Charles Hulls, who played his second and last first-class match. His opposite number was Frank Mitchell, who was a rugby international for England and was to later play Test cricket for both England and South Africa.

  Also in the Cambridge University eleven were William Gilbert Grace junior – the 22 year-old son of the legendary ‘Doctor’ of the same name – and Surrey’s Norman ‘Frank’ Druce, who was in the midst of a good season with the bat.

  Hulls won the toss and elected to bat. The University’s fast bowling pair of Horace Gray and Trinidad-born Eustace Shine immediately put the hosts on the back foot with timely blows. Gray removed Hearne and Trott cheaply to have the MCC at 23/2, before the Essex opener Herbert Carpenter and wicketkeeper George Davenport put on 45 for the third wicket.

  Gray dismissed Carpenter for 37, the innings’ top score, while Shine made severe inroads into the middle order. Three wickets – that of Carpenter, Davenport and Hulls – fell at 68 and from that point, the innings could never recover. The MCC were bowled out for 134 in 41.4 overs, with Gray and Shine returning figures of 5/62 and 4/48 respectively.

ztroyuu       Albert Trott took 6/59 in the first innings to help the MCC gain a narrow lead (source – wikipedia.org)

  The Cambridge University got off to a good start in reply through their openers Cuthbert Burnup – who had just began his county career with Kent – and Grace. The two added 41 before Martin and Trott started to engineer a collapse. Martin bowled Grace and Harold Marriott while Trott cleaned up Burnup as the score slid to 51/3.

  The performance of the middle order batsmen was even worse than those of the MCC, as the innings went into a freefall in the face of the left and right-handed bowling combo. From 41/0, the score crashed to 79/7 before finally winding up at 111 in 57.2 overs.

  Trott – who could bowl both pace and off-spin – took 6/59 while Martin finished with 4/32. Grace’s 26 was the highest score. With a narrow lead of 23, the MCC lost Hearne and Trott early again and finished the day at 92/2 with Carpenter and Francis Phillips at the crease. 337 runs were scored for the loss of 22 wickets on the first day.

  The pitch had clearly eased out by the time the second day started, as Carpenter and Phillips set about building the lead in imposing fashion. Their third-wicket partnership realised 168 runs before Mitchell dismissed Phillips for 74. Carpenter was in fine fettle as he added a further 93 with Hulls for the fourth wicket.

  He went on to score a then career-best of 161 before getting out caught off Grace. Richard Nicholls (59) and Walter Mead (46*) frustrated the Cambridge University with an 81-run stand for the ninth wicket – which was effectively the last wicket as Davenport was absent injured – as the MCC piled up 483 runs in 136.1 overs.

  Part-time medium-pacer Marriott – who was the last of seven bowlers used – ended up as the pick of them with a career-best 4/60. The target for Cambridge University was a mammoth 507 runs, and it seemed only two results were possible at this stage – a draw or an MCC win.

  The chase got off to a poor start as Grace was bowled by Trott for a duck with the score at four. Martin accounted for Burnup to make it 38/2. Marriott and Druce then guided their team to 98/2 at stumps on Day 2. The requirement for the final day was 409 runs with eight wickets standing.

  The demons in the pitch had long rested, and now the it was looking very conducive for the batsmen. Druce and Clement Wilson took charge of the proceedings as the third day began, with the two playing showing positivity.

  Druce was the more dominating of the two, and by the time he was bowled by Mead for a wonderful, game-changing 146, the score was 280 and the third-wicket partnership had fetched 242 runs.

  With a composed Wilson still at the crease, Cambridge University might have started to believe in themselves. But there was still a long way to go – 227 runs needed with seven wickets in hand.

zdruce       Frank Druce scored a wonderful 146 in the second innings to set the base for Cambridge University’s historic victory (source – wikipedia.org)

  However, Martin provided a crucial breakthrough just six runs later, as he caught Wilson for 82 off his own bowling. Marriott came out to bat at this point with a huge task in front of him.

  There was a lot of time left in the game, and with the extremely high over-rates of those days, all four results were entirely possible now. Marriott and William Hemingway took the score to 327 before Trott dismissed the latter.

  21-year-old Marriott was looking composed and chipped away at the target, but wickets were falling at the other end. Mitchell was out caught by Hulls off Martin to make it 352/6, while Hearne had John Stogdon caught by Nicholls – the score now reading 389/7.

  Marriott needed a willing ally if his team had to wrest back the advantage, which he found in the form of wicketkeeper Edward Bray, who batted at number nine. The two thwarted any further wicket-taking attempt from the MCC bowlers as they went about getting the remaining runs in a steady manner.

  Bray (32*) was not exactly known for his batting, but on this occasion he held his nerve and ably supported Marriott, who determinedly and maturely went on to score a century, playing the major role in the partnership. The MCC bowlers began to appear jaded when it mattered the most.

  The Cambridge University eventually achieved a historic victory when Marriott scored the winning single off Mead. The final score read an astonishing 507/7 in 189.2 overs, with the unbroken eighth-wicket stand bringing 128 runs. Martin toiled for 65 overs to claim 3/109. Marriott finished with an unbeaten career-best 146.

  Until this match, no team had ever chased down even 400 runs in the fourth innings of a first-class match. What’s more, there had been no instance of a team scoring as many in the fourth innings – whether in a win, loss or draw – of any first-class match.

  In this context, the feat achieved by the Cambridge University can be said to be a notable turning point as far as chasing big totals was concerned. Just four years later, another 500-plus winning chase was recorded, when the Players chased down 501 against the Gentlemen at Lord’s.

  Cambridge University’s record of the highest winning fourth-innings total stood unchallenged for 107 years. As of today, it stands third on the list, behind West Zone’s 541/7 against South Zone at Hyderabad in 2009-10 and Central Province’s 513/9 against Southern Province at Kandy in 2003-04.

  The highest fourth-innings total overall is England’s 654/5 against South Africa at Durban in the drawn Timeless Test of 1938-39.

Match Scorecard – http://cricketarchive.com/Archive/Scorecards/4/4571.html