Oz find paradise in Eden

The '87 final is one of the best matches I've ever played, writes Dean Jones.

india Updated: Mar 09, 2007 20:39 IST

We had been primed for this one. The three-Test tour of India in 1986 — yes, the celebrated tied-Test series — had acclimatised us to Indian conditions.

So we were coming to the subcontinent having trained our backsides off to make sure we were super, super fit. And we were delighted to be facing India in the inaugural game of World Cup 1987.

It was a very important game for us psychologically, and we had a chance to beat India on home turf. We eventually won by a single run, which is as fine as it gets, and thereby hangs a tale.

India won the toss and put us in, so it was time for David Boon and Geoff Marsh to get us off to yet another flyer, with Geoff eventually posting 110 in a team score of 270.

During my innings of 35, I was facing Maninder Singh and I tried to hit him for a six back over his head. I hit it a bit flat, towards Ravi Shastri, who dived but missed the catch and the ball appeared to carry over the rope for what seemed like a six. Ravi (Shastri) was not sure, and neither was umpire Dickie Bird, so he eventually signalled four.

After I got out, I spoke to match referee Hanif Mohammed to ask whether he could reverse the decision from a boundary to a six. At lunch, Hanif spoke to Dickie, who then spoke to Ravi. After a brief discussion, the decision was reversed and two runs added to our score, and India were bowled out for 269 in the second last over. And the rest is…

The other memorable match in our run-up to the final was our rain-affected Indore encounter against New Zealand, in which we scraped through by three runs.

The morning after the match, and because we were playing them again later on in the group stage, at Chandigarh, we decided a bit of psychological warfare was in order.

We were staying in the same hotel, so we assembled at 5.30 a.m. and proceeded to go through a rigorous training regime in full view of the Kiwis — just to show them how alert and switched on we were! At Chandigarh, we won by 17 runs, so I suppose you could say our stunt worked.

The script proceeded pretty much according to plan till the semifinals, when, of course, a sweeping Graham Gooch in Mumbai and Craig McDermott in Lahore dashed all hopes of an India-Pakistan final. Playing in Lahore, we won the toss and elected to bat. I remember Abdul Qadir bowling his wrong ‘uns, which we had trouble picking.

When I got out LBW to Tauseef Ahmed, and as I walked past Dickie, he said, "Deano, you'll have to use the bat." Boony and Mike Veletta did that to great effect, and then Javed Miandad played a superb innings, but the upshot was that we won by 18 runs.

We couldn't believe we had done it. At the end of our first match against India, we had had a magnificent party to celebrate the feeling of beating India in India. This was a young team, and a lot of the guys had not toured India before.

Party over, we had made a solemn vow not to touch a drop of alcohol until we had won the Cup, because we prided ourselves on our fitness. Now, in Lahore, it was all falling into place, but our joy was tempered with a serious worry — what would be the repercussions of beating Pakistan in Pakistan?

So it turned out that within a couple of hours of the match getting over, we were on a chartered flight bound for Calcutta.

The final at Eden Gardens is one of the best one-day games that I can remember playing or watching. Boony, who I roomed with, and I, hardly slept the night before, though that didn't prevent Boony from playing another smashing knock, with Veletta (45 off 31 deliveries) doing his bit too as we posted 253, which we were confident of defending because we knew we were a very good fielding side, even if all else failed.

England began badly, losing Tim Robinson for a duck to McDermott. However, that didn't matter as much as Allan Border's momentous dismissal of Mike Gatting off that reverse sweep. I don't know what stupid, insane reason prompted him to play that shot, especially since he had just swept AB for a boundary, but that was the turning point of the match.

As 100,000 (some reckoned the number to be 120,000) wildly cheering spectators celebrated our seven-run win, the 14 of us sat in the dressing room in almost total silence, so stunned were we at the enormity of what we had done.

But the fans were anything but silent. Firecrackers were going off, and the five-minute drive from the stadium to the hotel took two hours, with most of the guys sitting on the roof of the bus to take photos of the incredible reception we were getting — perhaps the best accorded to an overseas team.

That night, Boony and I took a champagne bottle to our room, toasted our win, our families and the team, and were asleep by nine.

However, I call this the forgotten World Cup because the reception in Australia was lukewarm to the point of being non-existent.

To begin with, nobody had watched the game because Channel 9 and Kerry Packer didn't feel it was important enough, Cricket Australia almost ignored it, and all we got for our efforts was $600 each as prize money. No tickertape parade, no thronging crowds — nothing. However, plans are in the offing to honour all the members of that team, I hear, which is some recompense.

No award, however, can match what we felt on the night of November 8, 1987. It has remained one of the two highest points in my cricketing career — the other, of course, was when we beat England in 1989 for the Ashes, but that's another story.

(Dean Jones: a former Australian batsman, world cup 1987.)

First Published: Mar 07, 2007 20:11 IST