Almanac Cricket – A trip down memory lane: Recalling iconic Australian cricket incidents from 25 years ago

 

Photo: cricket.com.au

 

The recent Boxing Day Test marked 25 years since Test cricket’s ultimate all-time leading wicket-taker Muttiah Muralitharan was called for throwing by umpire Darrell Hair at the iconic MCG.

 

I distinctly remember where I was at the time. Aged 13, I was at the Gabba, watching a one-day match between Queensland and the West Indies. I was absorbed in that game, while Dad sat near me and listened on radio to hear what was going on at the MCG. There was no sign of anyone with a mobile phone!

 

I was delighted to see the Bulls upstage the West Indies, with Adam Dale taking 3-31 in his first outing for Queensland while Stuart Law was the star, with 2-33 and then 70 as Queensland won by 4 wickets, chasing a modest target of 207.

 

Six nights later, as 1996 got underway, the West Indies took on Australia in a World Series Cup contest at the SCG. In a match reduced to 43 overs per side, the West Indies managed 9-172 thanks largely to 93 not out from Carl Hooper. The tourists were 5-54 before Hooper combined with Roger Harper for an 81-run stand.

 

It’s interesting to note, 25 years later, that Australia needed to better the West Indies total by just one run. Under the Duckworth-Lewis method introduced since then, the team batting second would have to chase a bigger target.

 

The early run-out of Mark Taylor, a brilliant catch by Phil Simmons to send Michael Slater on his way, and the first-ball dismissal of Ricky Ponting left Australia reeling at 3-15. Law couldn’t repeat his Boxing Day heroics as he fell for 10, before the second-ball dismissal of Shane Lee left Australia 6-38.

 

With the total at 6-61, something bizarre happened. Rated one of the world’s best fielders, Harper dropped a simple return catch which would have accounted for Michael Bevan. It didn’t appear that this would matter though, as Harper bowled Ian Healy to make the score 7-74 in the 27th over. Australia was gone for all money. Then along came Paul Reiffel who umpired the Boxing Day Test some 25 years later!

 

Reiffel scored 34 in a match-turning partnership of 83, while Bevan showed his skill. A number of run-out chances were squandered before Reiffel departed. While all this happened, it seemed only a matter of time before the West Indies claimed victory. Surely the eighth wicket partnership would only add respectability to Australia’s total.

 

The requirement came down to 7 runs from 6 balls with two wickets in hand with Shane Warne accompanying Bevan at the crease. Nowadays the task sounds very gettable from a batting perspective. Back then, the bowling side seemingly had a slight advantage. In this case it did, anyway.

 

The bowler was the man who had earlier reprieved Bevan. The frontline fast bowlers had used up their allocated overs, meaning an off-spinner was entrusted with the final over.

 

A dot ball and a legside wide were followed by the run-out of Warne as the batsmen sought a suicidal single. Bevan strangely took a single from the next ball, leaving Glenn McGrath on strike. With a batting average below 4, McGrath did not appear likely to help Australia’s cause. But he managed a single, leaving four runs required from two balls. Bevan failed to score from the penultimate delivery, meaning he needed to find the boundary from the final ball. He was on 74 from 88 balls, having hit five boundaries.

 

Harper fired the ball towards the left-hander’s leg stump as Bevan backed away. He swung hard, and connected at just the right time.

 

The flat-batted shot sent umpire Tony McQuillan ducking for cover. How brilliant were the umpire’s reflexes? Before anyone could blink, the ball crashed into the fence beneath the sightscreen.

 

Bevan quickly removed his helmet and pumped the air with both arms, holding his helmet in one hand and his bat in the other. The time was 10.46pm Sydney time. But nobody watching this cricket match could have been feeling sleepy at this stage.

 

Click here to watch the last over: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i_OrxxPgX6w

 

Very few books have been written on white-ball cricket, mainly because people don’t tend to remember white-ball matches as vividly as Test matches.

 

But surely nobody who witnessed Bevan’s last-ball boundary on the first evening of 1996 would ever forget it. Not that anyone would necessarily remember the rest of the match.

 

As for the Man of the Match? The answer: Reiffel. The man known as ‘Pistol’ took 4-29 off 9 overs and then scored 34, compared with Bevan’s 0-31 off 4 overs and innings of 78 not out.

 

Twenty-five years ago, eh? Who’s to know what’s in store in another 25 years’ time?

 

Read more of Liam Hauser’s Almanac pieces HERE.

 

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Our writers are independent contributors. The opinions expressed in their articles are their own. They are not the views, nor do they reflect the views, of Malarkey Publications.

 

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About Liam Hauser

A Queenslander through and through, Liam went out of his comfort zone as he had a thoroughly worthwhile time in Tumut and Gundagai from 2008 to 2016 before enjoying a year in Gunnedah. His strongest sporting interests are State of Origin, Sheffield Shield, Test cricket and the NRL. His sporting CV doesn’t have many highlights, although he once top-scored in a warehouse cricket match with 54 not out at number 10, and shared in an unbroken last wicket stand of 83 with the number 11 who scored an undefeated 52. Liam has written books including State of Origin 40 Years, A Century of Cricket Tests, A History of Test Cricket, The Immortals of Australian Cricket, The Immortals of Australian Rugby League, and The Great Grand Finals: Rugby League's Greatest Contests. Also a huge fan of Electric Light Orchestra.

Comments

  1. Yes Liam that was an iconic moment. Michael Bevan was known as “The Finisher” for good reason. McGrath played his part too with that single.
    Also at the SCG, Allan Lamb went 2,4,6.2 ,4 to win the game for England in the final over. Eighteen runs an over was unheard of and off big Bruce Reid. Worth a You Tube look. Dirk Wellham scored 97 for Australia earlier that day but a couple of poor throws in that last over probably gave Lamb the strike and cost Australia the match.

  2. Liam Hauser says

    Hi Dan,
    Poor fielding from the first and fourth deliveries certainly cost Australia dearly during that over when Allan Lamb hammered 18 runs off 5 balls.
    During a subsequent match, a banner in the crowd read: “Could Bruce Reid phone Allan Lamb at 24624.”
    As a number 11 batsman, Reid also had the misfortune of being in a 1-run loss to New Zealand at Hobart in 1990-91. Australia needed 2 runs off the last over, but Reid was unable to score as he faced the last 6 balls from Chris Pringle. The first ball went down the legside and should have been called a wide, which would have levelled the score. Reid was run out off the last ball as he sought a bye, but strangely the non-striker (Greg Matthews) didn’t seem interested in the run.
    The term “The Finisher” was also applicable to James Faulkner. I’ll never forget his heroics against England at the Gabba in January 2014. Number 11 Clint McKay arrived at the wicket as Australia needed 57 runs off 6 overs: surely an impossible task. Unbelievably, McKay scored 2 not out from 9 balls while Faulkner blasted his way to victory with 3 balls to spare.

  3. Luke Reynolds says

    G’day Liam,

    Remember that whole game well, one of the great moments in Australian ODI cricket. Such a sliding doors moment that Harper caught and bowled chance off Bevan. He holds the catch, does Bevan go on to have the great ODI career he had? He was only just starting to really establish himself in the ODI team at that stage. As for Harper, the commentators would continually bang on about how brilliant a fielder he was but for mine he was a shadow of the fielder he was on the 1988/89 tour (pretty sure he didn’t tour here for the 1991/92 ODI’s and the 1992/93 tour).

    I’m interested in your experiences of those Day/Night Gabba Boxing Day matches, from memory they were held for quite a few years and very well attended?

  4. Unlike the vast majority of ODI’s, I will never forget that match, Liam.
    My wife and I (and 9-month old son) were on our way to Merimbula for a holiday and had stopped at a Lakes Entrance motel for an overnight break. We watched the lightning crack over the sea as a big storm rolled in toward the town while Bevan performed his heroics.

    One of the great disappointments of world cricket has been the demise of the West Indian teams.

  5. Liam Hauser says

    Thanks for your comments Luke and Smokie.
    Roger Harper wasn’t part of the West Indies squad in its tours Down Under in 1991-92 and 1992-93, although he did play two matches in the 1992 World Cup on Australian soil.
    In answer to your question, Luke, I had to consult the archives to refresh my memory.
    There were only two occasions when Queensland hosted a one-day match on Boxing Day.
    When Queensland beat the West Indies by 4 wickets on Boxing Day 1995, I was among 16,580 spectators at the Gabba as the (then) new stand was opened at the Vulture Street End. As mentioned previously, the Bulls won by 4 wickets, chasing 207.
    I didn’t get to attend the Queensland versus Pakistan match at the Gabba on Boxing Day in 1996. A crowd of 11,661 saw Queensland crumble to 8-110 before Andy Bichel and Adam Dale took the total to 8-186. Dale then captured 5-28 as Pakistan managed just 123.
    For the next three years I attended each day-night match at the Gabba featuring Queensland against a touring team, but none were on Boxing Day.
    On Dec 13 1997, I was among 7843 spectators to see Queensland and New Zealand play out a tie: 266 runs apiece. In the 46th over of the run chase, New Zealand’s Shayne O’Connor fumbled a catch outside the boundary rope. This happened right in front of me as I was seated in the old Cricketers’ Club. It was obviously a 6 as the ball cleared the rope by a couple of metres, but for some reason the umpire signalled 4. The crowd was in uproar as the Bulls were robbed of victory. There was no third umpire for this match.
    On Jan 8 1999, I was part of a crowd of 17,027 to see England rack up 324 runs before Queensland was dismissed for 232.
    Jan 6 2000 was memorable. A crowd of 16,109 saw Pakistan tumble from 0-28 to 5-51 before reaching 169 all out in the 41st over. The Bulls were reeling at 5-24 before Geoff Foley and Wade Seccombe (with 64 runs each) set up a 4-wicket victory.

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