We may be looking at the death of ODI cricket, surpassed by the new wave of T20. That’s what ODI reminds me of, the sort of over-produced pop and album rock of the mid 70’s, Kashmir blaring from every stereo in Bexley North when I took our dog for a walk on a Sunday morning. Then along came Blondie, The Jam and a million other bands and blew it all away. Shorter, sharper, better looking and more relevant to boot.
I spent many a night watching ODI cricket “back in the day”. Rushing in from holiday jobs flush with cash to spend on Cornettos, leaning on the fence chatting to John Emburey who shared my long box of Marella Jubes, remembering Ian Smith tonking Lillee onto the Hill, Hadlee again and again, beer fights, ice fights, Hughes and Laird cruising home against the Windies and Brearley as Ayatollah that first, long, stuttering summer after the peace deal. Tangles and Dougie got picked for pyjamas that year but not tests. McCosker made it back into the ODI team in 81/82 aged 35.
There’s a sense that WSC made limited overs cricket. But, in truth, it had been a staple in England for 15 years, having copied an Indian format.
It has also existed internationally, for almost a decade, even before that glorious inaugural World Cup, of impossible run outs and Roy Fredericks and the original Gary Gilmour.
This piece is a celebration of those ODI pioneers, Australia’s first pyjama wearers.
Many will know that the official first ODI was played in the wet summer of 70/71. But… there’s a strong case to be made for the first game being a full 4 years earlier. On 4 March 1967, Bob Simpson and his touring team met a full-strength South African XI in a 50 over match at Johannesburg. This was after 5 Tests, the players having started the campaign against then Rhodesia in early November – they missed the whole domestic season. The first Test straddled Christmas. Back home, there were two Shield games across the week, Greg Chappell at 18 possibly filling brother Ian’s boots. I am not sure what Channel 9 showed on Boxing Day, probably Smiley Gets a Gun.
In ODI #0, as I call it, it was 50 overs but I am not sure of they were 6- or 8-ball, and each bowler could bowl 11 overs, which makes no sense at all. The handy Aussies were Simmo, Lawry, Graeme Thomas, Redders, Bobby Cowper, Stacky, Veivers, the original Watto, Garth, Jimmy Hubble and Big Dave Renneberg.
SA – what a team! Bacher, Goddard, the uncapped B Richards, G Pollock, Tiger Lance, the original Gilchrist a.k.a. Denis Lindsay, Eddie Barlow as skipper, Procter, P Pollock, and the lesser known McKinnon and Trimborn.
We batted first and made 8-323, Phanto making 91, Thomas 70 and Stacky 47. Barlow was the most frugal.
In reply, G Pollock did a G Pollock, coming in at 2-56 and guiding them home with 132*. Four others made 30’s. Watson went at over 7 for the prize wicket of Richards, Stacky got 3 to give us a chance, but they got there with 8 balls to spare.
Note the Australians’ use of four “bit of both” players in the middle order.
It was a long time between drinks, and boy then weren’t there drinks for everyone, Melbourne washed away by the New Year storms of Jan 71. We drove down from Sydney, 7 of us in a Falcon station wagon (XW, I think), stopping on Christmas Day to climb Kozzie, there was a bit of snow. We didn’t stick around Melbourne after the Test was cancelled, so didn’t witness the first official ODI, which was hastily chucked on – as much to revv up the summer, which was stagnant after two old fashioned Ashes draws. It was billed as an “international knock-out match”, in a series of one, with no trophy.
We picked our Test XI – Lawry, Stacky, Chappelli Dougie, Redders, Chappell G, Marsh, Mallett, McKenzie, Connolly and Froggie T. England went with Boycs, Edrich, Fletcher, D’Olly, Hampshire, Cowdrey, Illy, Knott, Snow, Shuttleworth and Lever. Deadly Derek was 12th, surprising given the puddingy state of the pitch.
I am indebted to Cricinfo for capturing the words of Pope McGilvray:
“It’s a splendid game,” commentating stalwart Alan McGilvray, said at the start. “It’s different to a Test match or state game … there’s more involved. There’s more tactical operations, there’s more alertness in the field, better running between the wickets. Generally, it’s a spectacle that I’ve enjoyed in England very much.”
Well, ok then. 40 6-ball overs each it is.
MCC 190 with Edrich 82 off 119, double his rate in the Tests that season. Rowdy and Stacky took 6 between them at a combined 3.5. Get them on the plane to India! We cruised home with more than 5 overs to spare, Chappelli top scoring and everybody chipping in. Illy took 3 but was “expensive” at more than 4.5.
We then played 3 unofficial ODIers the next summer against the star-studded World XI. Most notable was us playing not one but two leggies in the first. In Perth! They won the first the second was abandoned and Dougie skittled them in the 3rd, Ross Duncan and Bob Massie being one of the less celebrated new ball pairings of all time.
Official ODI’s resumed in the halcyon Ashes tour of 1972, probably my favourite cricket winter, a tranny under the pillow, trying to find fusarium in the encyclopaedia at the local library, and wondering why there weren’t even more West Australians in the team.
The ODIers were kept until after the 5th Test was won and the series squared, that glorious day at the Oval that heralded the new dawn of Australian cricket. We’d had a bit of practice, a couple of limited over games against Yorkshire due to weather. We had also had a few seasons of limited overs cricket back home, guys like GD Watson showing their suitability with stuff like 5-20 in the semi in 69-70 and 95 and 99 in successive games for new home WA in 71-72.
In game one we went with Stacky, Watto, two Chappells, Edwards, Sheahan, Walters, Marsh, Lillee, Mallett and Massie. Note Watson opening like his namesake in the allrounder role – Geoff Arnold ending his stoic resistance first ball. 40’s and 50’s got us 8-Richie off 55, good but never enough. Bob Woolmer RIP took 3 at bugger all. Watson got Boycott and Amiss and went at 3.5. But Amiss 103 and Fletcher 60 did it easy. Oh, Brian Close was brought in to captain. Fascinating. Amiss’ ton is classed as the first ODI century.
For game two, we rested Dougie for Fox Colley. Watson went to 6, Edwards opening. Their 236 featured a run-a-ball 50 from serial pest Knotty. Colley’s 0-72 off 11 noteworthy. But we chased it down easily, runs shared, plenty of overs in the bank, despite Snowy’s 3-35 off 11.
Game three saw Hammond for Colley and Walters for Watson. No game for Invers. Stacky’s lone hand saw us creep to 9-179 with Arnold taking 4. Lillee bowled like a demon taking 3-25 off 11 but they crept home with 2 wickets in hand, Greigy paying back the 24 we took off his 10 stingy overs with an unbeaten 24 of his own to win the game – prototype ODI performance. Add Simon O’Donnell, and stir.
There were no international games for us the next extended summer, however we did pick 3 leggies plus two part-timing Chappells in a limited over tour game against Tobago, in which DK Lillee opened the batting, DNB due to vertebrae.
In 73-74 we deigned to grant the Kiwis 3 Tests here, but would not offer them any cash-rich ODIers. But they put on two over there. In Dunedin, Bev Congdon’s 82 saw them to 192. Our lineup was a harbinger – Walker, Gilmour, Dymock, Ray Bright and GSC. We went at a run a ball to smash them Chappelli crunching 83 off 68 and Greg 42 off 32. Wizard Davis was another debutante, and their bowling had two Hadlees and Cairns Snr.
The next day they drove up to Christchurch and went at it again. These games were 35 overs each, maybe due to the poor light? No, it was back to 8 ball overs. Ash Woodcock made a sparkling 53, but the Chappell boys did it again, grinding NZ into the Canterbury Plain, 5-265, Bev Congdon copping it bigtime. I remember hearing about Kenny Wadsworth sticking it to us in reply, in at 4-70 and smashing 104 at better than SR 100, 16 fours showing his class. What a shock it was to hear of his death only a couple of years later at 29, an early victim of the killer melanoma. Such a talent. How fitting that he hit the wining runs in the Kiwis’ first Test win against us (we won that ODI easily, but it doesn’t matter).
In 1974-75 we crushed the MCC. The 3rd Test was a slow but gripping draw. 242 and 244 almost matched by 241 and 8-238. They came back the next day and played a ODIer. It was 1/1/75. Oh, NYE happened in between. No drug tests back then. Drinking, and driving, off both feet. Chilly Old got 4 and kept us to 190, Lillee out for local boy Hurst and 12thy Jenner getting the nod over Rowdy. Wally Edwards made 2 in his final game for the Australians. We cardinal sinned by leaving 5 overs on the table. I think Wal had been dropped for Rick the Snick by then so they let him bowl the last ball so he could have the honour of bowling in a ODIer. I think it was a leg bye. His economy rate is 0. Hursty got a couple but they cruised home with solid partnerships down the list (Wally Edwards got two tons in his – first class – career and averaged 30. He opened for Australia ahead of guys like Watson, McCosker, Davis. He was made Chairman of Cricket Australia. Not bad, really).
1975’s Ashes tour was a hasty affair leveraging off that first World Cup thingy. Prudential, hey? The most memorable moments included Gavaskar’s 36 not out off 60 overs. He always was a stubborn prick. East Africa got a gig. Alan Turner went to the top of the order and his rustic tonking looked good there, alongside the more traditional McCosker.
We dominated Pakistan in the first game, Edwards 80 off 94. And DK 5-34 off 12 against a cracking batting card. It was our first glimpse of Imran Khan. Turner scored our first ton against Sri Lanka, our 320 overpowering them but a defiant 4-276 shows a glimpse of what they would become. We collapsed against the Windies in the 3rd game. I remember Clive Lloyd rolling his arm over, the ball coming down from ridiculous heights. Edwards and Marsh gave us hope but Kalli stole it away, what a class act he was. Larry Gomes, before Larry Gomes.
12 overs, 6 maidens 6-14. And then 28 off 28 after we were 6-39 chasing their lowly 93. Yes, Gus Gilmour, this was your greatest day, probably the greatest Australian ODI performance ever. Headingley with the ball wobbling and fizzing. I remember it like it was yesterday, the laughter when they collapsed and then the panic as Arnold, Snow, Lever and Old used local knowledge. Great attack!
Anyway, the Final is a blur, Clive’s sublime 102 off 85 taking 3-50 against Lillee, Walker, Thomson and Gilmour to 8-291. Gus got another 5-for. We were always thereabouts, but the 5 runouts cruelled momentum, Chappelli being the only one to get past 50. One of my fave allrounders Keith Boyce got 4 of the 5 wickets that went to bowlers. Viv announced himself as a pouncing panther with the eye of a tiger, 274 a fine but futile effort. Oh, C Lloyd did a bit with 1-38 off 12 to go with his ton. Imagine if he had stayed fit…
Despite the popularity of the format and the Windies, we only scheduled one ODI the next summer, Adelaide, Gary Cosier showing what looked like a good affinity with tonking and wobblers. We got our revenge, Viv’s 74 the start of his golden run, but Tangles got 4-19 to knock the stuffing out of them, 224 easily run down, with Bernard Julien showing what I always imagined – he was hittable.
And then it went quiet, we had no tour in 76 (some went on a Wanderers tour), we rushed through the three mini-series in 76-7. No time for ODIers – but that was the season of that spectacular Gillette Cup semi, WA winning with 77, Lillee and Viv going at it.
The 77 Ashes team left happy, and exploded into the WSC supernova. Pascoe, Hughes, Malone, Bright, Serjeant, Dymock, Hookes and Robinson had 5 Tests between them.
The ODIs were before the Tests, in a wet week in June. Serjeant top scored on debut in the first, Marsh tonking some handy stuff but 169 off 55 was hopeless. Hookes, Malone, Pascoe and Skull got their first caps, but only Malone performed well.
We brought in middle order specialist Richie Robinson, and Kim Hughes, in the second. Chappell and Cose both took 5 and kept them to 171. But they toyed with us, Johnny Lever and Bob Willis humbling us for 70, we were 6-38 but there was no Gus Gilmour to rescue us.
Brearley and Amiss put on 160 to start the next match, but they collapsed to 242. Greg Chappell then played his greatest ODI innings, 125 off 137 through various rainbreaks, seeing off Deadly (1-21 off 11) and getting us home with 10 balls and 2 wicket to spare. It was a great win. Defiant. Sadly, the high point of that terrible, divided tour (Richie Robinson, it pains me to say, made runs, opening).
They came home and went to WSC and ODI became an adult partner in the schedule. Our B-team met Dessie Haynes in a dominant mood over there, Cose being Cose and bashing 84 off 78 in retaliation. We played 3 against the MCC in 78-79, going in with Cosier, Carlson and Trevor Laughin, and winning, high points in a long dirty season.
Before departing, some snippets from the blur that followed – Alan Hurst against Canada (!) in the second World Cup. Graeme Porter. Hughes batting himself into form for the Centenary Tests, 98 caught and bowled Gooch the closest he ever got to a ODI ton (now they make them for breakfast).
But from that point on, 1977-78, the coloured clothes and then the lights, that was the second birth of ODIs. Game after game, hype on top of hype.
I look back on that first decade a bit like the punk that existed before “the birth of punk”. They didn’t really know what they were making, but we now see how important it was.