Flashback: Cricket World Cup 1975. Batsmen wobble. Excerpt from Indra Vikram Singh’s book ‘The Big Book of World Cup Cricket 1975-2011’

Australia v England (semi-final)  •  Headingley, Leeds, 18 June 1975

Gary Gilmour traps Keith Fletcher leg-before.

Gary Gilmour traps Keith Fletcher leg-before.

There was a period in the mid-seventies when it was reckoned that Gary Gilmour would go on to emulate the feats of that great left-handed Australian allrounder Alan Davidson, if not another Gary – Sobers. This was one match which showed why Gilmour was rated so high.

The conditions were just right for this left-arm paceman. Skipper Ian Chappell sent England in on a green-top. The ball swung wildly in the overcast and windy conditions. Bowling over the wicket, Gilmour swung the ball sharply into the right-handers, while angling it away at other times. He would even swing it away from the right-handers. The batsmen were often unsure which way Gilmour’s deliveries were going.

He had England in deep trouble from the very start. Dennis Amiss was leg-before to a wicked in-swinger. So were Keith Fletcher and Allan Knott, as also Frank Hayes who shouldered arms thinking the ball was leaving him. Another incoming delivery knocked out Barry Wood’s off-stump. Tony Grieg was the only Gilmour victim claimed by a ball leaving him.

At the end of Gilmour’s 12-over spell, England’s innings was in shambles. He had taken all the six wickets for 14 runs, with six of the overs being scoreless. It was the first time any bowler had taken six wickets in a One-day International, a truly devastating performance. After the match Ian Chappell revealed: “Lillee preferred to bowl down the hill. That gave Gilmour the wind coming over his shoulder and it suited him fine. It was a magnificent piece of bowling.”

Even after Gilmour came off, there was no respite for the hapless English batsmen. Max Walker too made the ball wobble around both ways. He had Chris Old caught for a duck, leaving the hosts a miserable 37 for seven. Captain Mike Denness stood his ground but his discomfiture was evident, as Dennis Lillee also bowled a controlled line and length. England capsized for 93 off 36.2 overs.

England hit back in just as telling a fashion. John Snow, Chris Old and Geoff Arnold were past masters in the art of bowling in such conditions. The Australian scorecard began resembling more and more like England’s. At 39 for six it seemed as if the game could go either way.

In came Gilmour to occupy centre-stage once again. His aggressive left-handed batting was just the counter required under the circumstances. He rode his luck, smashing five boundaries in the company of that fine strokemaker, Doug Walters who was never too happy batting on the soft English wickets. But on this occasion he had a vital job to do. The two raised the first half-century partnership of the match, and helped carry their side to the final of the first World Cup.

This was a star turn by Gary Gilmour. He promised great things and many saw in him the makings of a truly great allrounder. He played for a fine team and was handled very shrewdly by Ian Chappell. About his immense talent there was no doubt but, as later events were to prove, Gilmour was found wanting in terms of temperament. He probably never believed that he belonged to the highest league and faded away without doing justice to his immense talent.

England          : 93 all out (36.2 overs)

Australia        : 94 for 6 wickets (28.4 overs)

(Author Indra Vikram Singh can be contacted on email singh_iv@hotmail.com).

The Big Book of World Cup Cricket - CoverThe Big Book of World Cup Cricket 1975-201

ISBN 978-81-901668-4-3

Published by Sporting Links

Distributed in India by Variety Book Depot, AVG Bhawan, M-3, Middle Circle, Connaught Circus, New Delhi – 110 001, Phones + 91 11 23417175 and 23412567.

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