Unsung Hero: Geoff Allott | india | Hindustan Times
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Unsung Hero: Geoff Allott

New Zealand have always been full of surprises in the World Cups. All their campaigns have invariably been spearheaded by a warhorse, save in ?99.

india Updated: Jan 28, 2003 13:34 IST

New Zealand have always been full of surprises in the World Cups. All their campaigns have invariably been spearheaded by a warhorse, save in ‘99. That year, a novice emerged from oblivion to help his team cruise through to the semi-final.

Geoffery Ian Allott remains an unsung note in cricket history but that year, the Christchurch man was the joint highest wicket-taker of the tournament with Shane Warne and was the pick of the bowlers there.

Not many had approved of the 28-year-old Canterburian’s selection. However, the Kiwi strategy to take the left arm fast-medium swing bowler paid off, as Allott using the soft English pitches made a mockery of the world’s best top order batsmen, who expected deliveries to be in the slashing zone.

Allott’s balls came in and at close to 140kmphs, supplemented by an off stump line, were often difficult to score off. When Allott, nicknamed ‘Bull’, bowled Herschelle Gibbs in their Super Six encounter, he broke one long-standing Cup jinx for bowlers — no more than 18 wickets. Roger Binny in 1983, Craig McDermott in 1987 and Wasim Akram in 1992 collected 18 apiece. "The Bull" became the first to move to 19 and then to 20.

In their league encounter at Cardiff, the Kiwis bundled out their Trans Tasman rivals for 211, and scratched home. At 32, Australia lost both Mark Waugh and Adam Gilchrist to Allott. He came back for two more scalps, finishing with 4/37. He took a four again at Derby against Pakistan and then Zimbabwe got a taste of Allott, when he sent back the in-form Neil Johnson, Andy Flower and Guy Whittall to dismiss them for less than 200.

However, a career threatening back injury finished him, though he tried to bounce back time and again. His one-day career ended in Durban in 2000-1 against South Africa.

He went back to where he had come from — Oblivion — with 52 scalps in his kitty and a World Cup halo around his head.