February 9, 2015

You may remember me from the World Cup

Each World Cup has thrown up some unlikely heroes. Here's a personal selection of players who briefly lit up the competition

Gary Gilmour took 6 for 14 in the 1975 semi-final © Getty Images

Gary Gilmour
He looked like being a back number at the first World Cup in 1975: Gilmour, the big left-hand allrounder, was not selected for any of Australia's group games. But on a green pitch for the semi-final at Headingley, "Gus" was whistled up - and demolished England with 6 for 14 in one 12-over spell. Even then he hadn't finished: the Australians found batting just as hard, and were 39 for 6 (chasing just 94) when Gilmour sauntered in. He biffed five fours in making 28 from as many balls, and soon it really was all over. Rarely has the identity of the Man of the Match been quite as obvious. Gilmour added five more wickets in the final, although he couldn't stop West Indies winning - and played just one more ODI in an unfulfilled career.

Collis King
Viv Richards' powerful unbeaten 138 stole the headlines in the 1979 World Cup final, yet it was another innings that day that really knocked the stuffing out of England: Collis King smacked 86 from 66 balls, with Viv taking a rare back seat during a stand of 139. "An amazing display," enthused Wisden: "He drove, hooked and pulled with astonishing power and accuracy." England were never in the hunt, and eventually lost by 92 runs. King never quite recaptured this form. Still, like several of his West Indian contemporaries, he'd have been worth the admission money in T20.

Madan Lal
Not many one-day internationals, let alone World Cup finals, are won while defending a total of 183. But that's what India did at Lord's in 1983, and it was mainly thanks to a stunning display of ball-wobbling from three modest seamers. Balwinder Singh Sandhu, patka bobbing, took 2 for 32. Mohinder Amarnath, at a medium so military he might have been part of the brass band that paraded at the interval, grabbed 3 for 12. And Madan Lal, enthusiastic as ever, nearly ten years after his debut for India, bustled in for 3 for 31, including the crucial wicket of Viv Richards, famously caught by a running Kapil Dev.

Eddie Hemmings
Offspinner Hemmings didn't look like your average international cricketer: he usually wore glasses under an unfashionable hairstyle, and his ample frame had, five years before the 1987 World Cup, encouraged a wag to let a pig loose on the Sydney outfield during an Ashes Test with "Eddie" written on one flank (and "Botham" on the other). By the 1987 World Cup, Eddie (the human) was 38, and certainly no thinner. But he was England's leading wicket-taker with 13 as they charged to the final, his 4 for 52 in the semi against India doing almost as much to get them there as Graham Gooch's sweep-saturated century. And Hemmings dismissed top scorer David Boon and Dean Jones in the final at Eden Gardens - but his batsmen couldn't seal the deal.

Brian Lara was done in by Tariq Iqbal's fleshy thighs © Associated Press

Eddo Brandes
Briefly the world's most famous chicken farmer, the Zimbabwean seamer Brandes had been at school with Graeme Hick, and he ruined Hick's day out against his former team-mates during the 1992 World Cup. England needed only 135 at up-country Albury to round off an impressive qualification stage with another victory - but Brandes trapped Graham Gooch in front first ball, soon removed Allan Lamb for 2, and then bowled his old mate Hick for another duck. That left England 43 for 5, and they slid to an embarrassing defeat. Five years later, back in Zimbabwe, a Brandes hat-trick helped consign an equally red-faced England to a 3-0 defeat in a one-day series.

Sultan Zarawani
With the opposition 68 for 6, chasing 322 in Rawalpindi in 1996, South Africa's Allan Donald might just have gone easy on the new batsman, the United Arab Emirates' captain, Zarawani… if he hadn't annoyed the world's fastest bowler at the time by strolling out to face him in a sun hat rather than a helmet. What happened next was eerily predictable: Donald dug in a bouncer and Zarawani crumpled after being smacked on the head. He bravely got up, but it was no great surprise when he was despatched for a duck a few balls later, and tottered off to hospital for a check-up. Zarawani finished with 16 runs in the tournament, a number roughly equal to the fleet of luxury cars he reputedly maintained at home: it was an echo of the Maharajah of Porbandar, India's official captain in England in 1932, who had more Rolls Royces than first-class runs on the tour.

Tariq Iqbal
Another unlikely participant in 1996 was Iqbal, a chunky, bespectacled wicketkeeper. He played a starring - if slightly fortuitous - role in Kenya's uber-shock victory over West Indies in Pune, when Brian Lara edged a regulation catch behind off the enthusiastic seamer Rajab Ali. It wasn't quite taken in the regulation way, though: the ball clanged out of the keeper's gloves, but somehow lodged between his ample thighs. Lara had to go. Wisden impolitely noted that Iqbal's "stout figure and village-standard juggling had hitherto caused much mirth". But that catch (and another more straightforward one later on to send back Roger Harper) couldn't keep Iqbal in the side, even though he'd earlier opened and made a handy 16: this famous game was his last international appearance.

Lance Klusener
Mention the 1999 World Cup and the image that flashes into the mind first is of South Africa's Klusener battering the ball through the off side. He averaged 140 in that tournament - despite really being more of a bowler - as he was only out twice. Cruelly, though, his last shot is probably the best-remembered: the bunt back past the bowler in the semi-final against Australia at Edgbaston that led to the mix-up in which Allan Donald was run out, forcing a tie that eliminated the South Africans on countback.

Lance Klusener: forever remembered for his 1999 World Cup heroics © PA Photos

John Davison
Had it not been for an accident of birth, Davison would now be remembered - if at all - as a fringe offspinner for Victoria and South Australia. But he first saw the light of day in Canada, and was called up by them as they sought qualification for the 2003 World Cup. Canada filched the final place there from Scotland, and had their moments in the tournament itself, starting with a convincing victory over Bangladesh, in which the dreadlocked plumber/seamer Austin Codrington took five wickets. Three matches later, Canada faced West Indies - and Davison smacked a tremendous hundred from only 67 balls, the fastest in World Cup history at the time. Brian Lara calmed fears of another upset of Kenyan proportions, but Davison was the Man of the Match.

Malachi Jones
All the headlines in Bermuda's match against India in Port-of-Spain in 2007 were taken by prison warder Dwayne Leverock, whose flying gully catch to dismiss Robin Uthappa early on probably caused seismic disturbances around the Caribbean when his 20-stone frame hit the deck. But - good quiz question this - who was the 17-year-old bowler, sending down his first delivery in a World Cup? The schoolboy's name was Malachi Jones. His day got distinctly worse, as he finished with 1 for 74 in seven overs, in what turned out to be his only World Cup match. Mind you, so did Leverock's: ten overs of his left-arm spin disappeared for 96.

Kevin O'Brien
England looked set to ease to a comfortable victory after posting 321 against Ireland in Bangalore in 2011, then dismissing William Porterfield first ball. It looked all over bar the shouting at 111 for 5 in the 25th over. But then O'Brien got going. He zoomed to three figures in 50 balls - a new World Cup record - to keep his side in the hunt. O'Brien was distraught to get out with 11 needed off as many balls - but John Mooney, another unlikely hero, made sure it was Ireland's day.

Steven Lynch is the editor of the Wisden Guide to International Cricket 2014. Ask Steven is now on Facebook

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