Players from the champion sides relive their World Cup journeys

'It was a period of resurgence for Australian cricket'

1987, part four: Craig McDermott talks about the significance of the World Cup win for Australia, and the importance of Allan Border's captaincy (00:00)

February 14, 2011


'It was a period of resurgence for Australian cricket'

February 14, 2011

The 1987 World Cup set the Australian cricket up, breeding committed players.

CM: A lot of players came out of their shell, I suppose. Steve Waugh; David Boon and Geoff Marsh's opening partnership started to really work; myself; and AB came on as a captain after that. I did not go to England in 1989, but the team flourished during that period and regained the Ashes. That was the start of the rebuild really, from the World Cup through to winning the Ashes in 1989. That was when Australian cricket really started its resurgence.

McDermott took 18 wickets in the tournament - more than Imran Khan, more than the local bowlers, more than all the experienced big names.

CM: Yes, I really didn't realise that, honestly, until I virtually got home and read about it in a newspaper or something. It wasn't something that I had focused on as a player, to try and get most wickets. Just went into every game trying to do my job, and I bowled well in India. I was well prepared, things went my way, I got some edges, and I learnt a little bit about reverse swing during that time, and that certainly bagged me a few wickets, certainly in the semi-final, where I got 5 for 44 against Pakistan. I got the ball to reverse a little bit and got three or four catches behind the wicket, I think.

McDermott's favourite wicket of the tournament was the last one in the semi-final against Pakistan.

CM: Probably the one I can remember the most is the last wicket we got against Pakistan in Lahore. Forty thousand people. I took the last wicket and there wasn't one sound. It was deafening silence. All day there were 40,000 people screaming, all day with horns, whistles, drums and everything else. And when I took the last wicket, you could hear pin-drop silence. They all were shattered, the whole country was shattered, because we beat them in their own den. So for us it was probably good that we didn't play England in the semi-final, so it was a bonus that we played against India and Pakistan in their own countries. I think that put a lot of weight back on them .We didn't have anything to lose but they had a hell of a lot, and they lost.

Whenever the 1987 World Cup team comes together, they talk about their experiences and the fun they had in the tournament.

CM: Well, we don't talk about the cricket too much. We talk about the time we had, mucking around, doing stupid things, and whatever else we did in the subcontinent, trying to keep ourselves sane, because there was nothing else to do. I think we might have had tape Walkmans back then. We surely did not have iPods or movies on laptops and stuff like that [laughs]. We read a book or went to the pool and had some beers, and that was it for us. Or let off some firecirackers, sky rockets, all those good thingsā€¦ we had some fun.

The win against India in the first game was perhaps Australia's most important win in the tournament.

CM: I think certainly beating India in that first game was a real catalyst for us, in getting home with such a slim margin. Knowing that we can defend targets, and that we were very good at bowling second and defending. So for us to defend such a slim margin, and to field and bowl well under that pressure, in front of India in their home country, I think that really shot us off in the right direction.

My player of the tournament for Australia would have been, probably Boonie [David Boon]. He was very consistent, got a lot of runs... just a real stalwart for Australia, a little icon. He is a great bloke, tough as nails. Whilst he wasn't the most ideal-looking athlete walking the planet, if you needed somebody else to bat for your life then you could pick him as well. He had a never-say-die attitude.

Both him and Swampy were good drop-and-run, players. They could play good cut shots, they could drive, Boonie was particularly good. He was good off his legs and a good cutter of the ball. Those two ran very well between wickets. They ran singles. Singles were a big part of the game back then. They weren't bludgeoning the ball over the bowler's head or over cover as they do now. Both the guys were accumulators of runs. If you batted for 50 overs back then, then you would get 100 or 110 or 120. He did a great job.

Australia's strategy was to accumulate runs in the first 40 overs and then attack in the last 10.

CM: We used try to get to our target of 160 in 40 overs, and six an over in the last 10, in order to get 220-240. Way different thought process than the way the game is played now. If we weren't 160 off 40 overs then we would start to panic.

One of the highlights of Australia's batting in the tournament was their running between the wickets, and the number of singles they took.

CM: We had to. The batsmen weren't big enough to hit fours and sixes as often as they do now. And the grounds were bigger, so we played closer to the fence. We didn't have a standard type boundary, where they have a certain meterage now. We didn't have that back in those days. Yes, Boonie, Swampy particularly, and Dean Jones were real good droppers and runners.

It helped that Australia had some big hitters in Steve Waugh and Simon O'Donnell in the lower middle order.

CM: Yes, Simon was our biggest hitter in those days. He could come in and knock them around pretty quickly. He could hit some long balls. Steve had shots to every part of the ground, and he ran very quick between the wickets. When you had Steve Waugh and Dean Jones between wickets, there wasn't much grass left on the wicket for pace. They were pretty quick.

The feeling in the Australian team was that it was a success that everyone had contributed to.

CM: Yes, I think so. I ran into Andrew Zesers, who toured. I think he rolled his ankle on the ball and he missed out playing in the World Cup. Even the guys who did not play a lot of cricket, or didn't play at all, contributed a lot, because they were always upbeat, even if they weren't playing, They trained hard and kept everybody on their guard.

With a coach like Bob Simpson, the team was never allowed to slack off.

CM: Yes, Simmo was a pretty hard nut. He was good for us, certainly from the fielding perspective, and the way we thought about running between the wickets and that sort of stuff. He really turned the fielding within the Australian team around big time.

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