It was a match that came alive in the death overs: West Indies compiled 243, and 92 of those runs came in the final ten overs. England began sedately in their chase, and found themselves needing 91 from the final ten with Allan Lamb standing as the last specialist batsman. By the time Courtney Walsh started the 48th over, England still needed 34. Lamb took 15 runs from that Walsh over, but a tight one by Patrick Patterson, who gave away just five runs, brought it down to 14 needed from the final over, by Walsh. One man was confident.
England and West Indies were playing their first match of the 1987 World Cup, in Gujranwala, an hour's drive from Lahore. It was an early start to the day.
John Emburey: It was a big surprise to everyone in the team meeting the night before the match when we were told that we would be leaving for the ground at 6.30 am. The journey took about an hour and five minutes. So, quite a few of us took pillows on the bus to feel a little fresher by the time we reached the ground.
Allan Lamb: I remember the bus had no air conditioning. We all had taken our pillows and were sleeping on the way to the ground.
Despite a strong batting line-up, West Indies failed to build momentum. For England, Emburey kept things in check with an economical ten-over spell, conceding 22. Phil DeFreitas was equally disciplined and managed to shrug off a stomach upset that at one point saw him stop midway into his run-up to throw up. He finished with 31 runs off ten overs.
Phil DeFreitas: We were told to get as much fluid down as possible the night before. I got sick of drinking water, so I had a lot of Fantas. did not really have much breakfast and bowled a long spell. It was hot and humid. Halfway through my first spell, which was quite long, I just felt something bubbling up inside. I had to get it out, so all the orange came out.
Emburey: I bowled quite well at the beginning and was bowled through to create some pressure on the West Indies middle order. I had already played a hand in the run-out of Desmond Haynes. Haynes flicked me towards deep-fine leg. The fielder threw it back towards my end, but it was very wide. So I had to scramble and reach down low to my right to gather the ball and then dive to my left to break the stumps. Haynes was out by about two foot. They had lost Carlisle Best very early on, but losing Haynes was big. Richie Richardson stayed at the wicket for quite long and had a short partnership with Viv Richards, but it was that period [in the middle overs] where we gained an element of control and put them under pressure.
West Indies managed a modest 243, after taking the final ten overs for plenty. Twenty-two of those runs came courtesy Roger Harper, off one Derek Pringle over.
Roger Harper: We needed a bit of a spurt and for that reason I was sent ahead of Carl Hooper. I managed to get hold of Pringle. I thought he was one bowler I could jump on. I gave myself some room to drive his first ball between mid-off and extra cover for four. I hit the next ball past backward point for another four. Because he was trying to bowl yorkers, I tapped towards the leg side for the third four. Then he bowled length and I swung it over midwicket for a six. And I got a couple of twos as well. But I needlessly got out to [Gladstone] Small, falling over.
Emburey: Pringle was not particularly good. He did not get the ball full, right up there. He tended to bowl length and just got smashed. It was a case of a wrong bowler bowling in the wrong situation. Pringle was not a fast bowler. He bowled back of a length. When you bowl at that pace, you back your ability. But it did not work out. It was a good learning example: England went with two spinners for the rest of the tournament.
Graham Gooch and Mike Gatting kept England strong even if the progress was sedate: 96 for 2 after 26 overs. But Hooper, with his slow-mediums, took three quick wickets, ruining England's rhythm.
"When we came off I was completely dehydrated and had to replenish with a lot of liquids. Once back in the dressing room I just sat in the bathroom and they just kept pouring cold water" Allan Lamb
Emburey: Hooper pushed it through, was skiddy and low. He came off a very short run-up and mixed it up with few offbreaks.
Their bowling attack was not as renowned as it had been in the past. The bowling was not fearsome. Patterson, Walsh, Winston Benjamin, Hooper and Harper. There was no Marshall, which made a massive difference, and that would have affected West Indies a lot.
England needed 91 runs from the last ten overs. Lamb was the key. Emburey (22) and DeFreitas (23) were to play crucial cameos, too.
Emburey: Lambie never stops talking. He would always say to give him the strike, but I had to take a few chances too. I got 22 before I was bowled by Patterson. I remember scrambling around and playing a few shots in my 15 balls. DeFreitas was equally good with a short cameo. The 45 runs we both put on played an important role eventually. I was chuffed that I had hit Patterson straight back over his head for a six - miraculously. The next ball was a lot quicker, and my stumps were broken. Not scattered, broken.
DeFreitas: I was always told to go in and try and hit. So I would always line up and try to hit straight. Batting with Lambie, he basically took control. He guided you through so that you did not do anything silly.
But England still needed 34 runs with three overs to go. Lamb was on 60. In January that year, he had hit 18 runs off the final over from Australian left-arm fast bowler Bruce Reid to help England clinch an ODI thriller in Sydney. Was a reprise in store? Lamb took 15 runs off a Walsh over and England were in the ascendancy.
Lamb: I had been in such situations before, so I was fairly confident that we could get the runs as long as I remained at the crease. I had the skills and confidence batting at the death, which was beneficial for me and England that day again.
Harper: We appeared to be in control of the game coming into the last ten overs, even till the final five overs. But some brilliant batting from Allan Lamb took that away from us to take England to victory.
Although Patterson bowled fast and with control to keep Lamb in check, the England batsman was waiting for Walsh, who was playing his first World Cup. With 13 needed, Walsh, attempting a leg-stump yorker, overcompensated and paid the price. His last nine deliveries had conceded 29.
Lamb: The first ball was a short one from Walsh and I pulled it for two. The second ball he bowled a leg-side full toss, which I hit for a four. He fired the following delivery down the leg side - four wides. The next ball was a no-ball and we took a single. [Neil] Foster hit the winning runs as he charged down the wicket and deflected a fuller-length ball wide of third man.
Harper: Courtney Walsh was a young bowler in international cricket who was given the responsibility of bowling at the end. Allan Lamb was a very good player at the death and he also played the yorkers pretty well. The margin for error was minimal and Lamb easily picked on anything that was not 100% on target from Walsh.
Someone like Malcolm Marshall was missed, of course. He was at the peak of his career but he opted out of the tournament. Also, Joel Garner had retired. So the West Indies bowling lacked experience.
Emburey: Lambie's was the key innings. He got the majority of the runs in the final ten overs. I clearly remember that last over. Once he had picked the Walsh ball that went for a six over square leg, we knew we had won the game. At the beginning of that over, when the first two balls went for two and four we still felt there was a long way to go. The four leg-side wides were crucial too, because that meant we needed just three runs.
England came back from the dead, and an exhausted Allan Lamb received the Man-of-the-Match award.
Lamb: It was absolutely boiling in the middle. When we came off I was completely dehydrated and had to replenish with a lot of liquids. Once back in the dressing room I just sat in the bathroom and they kept pouring cold water over me.
Emburey: The surprise for us was Courtney Walsh. He did not bowl very well towards the end and that is where we really cashed in and scored as many runs as West Indies in the last ten overs. The last ten overs in both innings was when outstanding cricket was played.
Interestingly, both times England played West Indies in that tournament they ended in exciting finishes. We had won the World Series in Australia, toppling West Indies there, too. We then won the quadrangular in Sharjah involving Australia, India and Pakistan. During the summer we had a good series of one-day cricket, and that was one of the best periods in English cricket, when we were top of the ODI game. And this was without Ian Botham, who was not fit. It was not a particularly strong batting line-up with the likes of Chris Broad, Tim Robinson and Bill Athey. Yet we managed to reach the final.
DeFreitas: It was my first World Cup match. It was quite exciting.
Harper: It was not exciting. Not really. Because it was a match we thought we were in control of and lost. In ODIs we had become inconsistent. We were not that dominant anymore in the shorter form of the game.
This article was first published in 2014