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World Cup flashbacks: When Mike Gatting brought his own downfall with a reverse sweep

Mike Gatting

Bengaluru, July 10: ICC Cricket World Cup 2019 hosts England continue their search for a maiden 50-over global title.

The hosts are set to take on archrivals and old foes Australia in the second semifinal of the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019 at Edgbaston, Birmingham on Thursday (July 11).

Whoever is through will take on the winner of the India vs New Zealand semifinal, which has been pushed to the second day following rain.

WC Special | Fixtures | Stats

Before Eoin Morgan leads his troops out on to the field , another England captain -- Mike Gatting -- had the chance to lift the World Cup.

Infact, Gatting even had the opportunity to win the subcontinent once again for the British - no more an empire though!

Playing in front of a lakh people at the iconic Eden Gardens, the then England captain was guiding his team towards a not-so-steep target against the arch-rivals Australia in the 1987 World Cup final, and also those off it who wanted a English loss because the former colonial masters had shattered their dream of bagging the World Cup one more time. But he, unlike those British generals from the pages of history, invited his own downfall.

The burly Gatting, aged 30 then, came out at No.4 after England were 66 for two, chasing 254 to win. That was the exact total the Three Lions had scored in the semifinals to win over Kapil Dev's men.

Gatting added 69 runs with Bill Athey (58) to steady the ship. The English ship was cruising at 135 for two, needing another 119, when Aussie skipper Allan Border came up with his left-arm orthodox spin.

The infamous reverse sweep

Border was not that bad a bowler as statistics proved. Conventional wisdom would have it that Gatting just saw off the spinners and maintained control over the chase. Those times were also not known for daredevil acts as cricket was played in a more conservative way. But Gatting tried to improvise and he failed. The very first ball that Border had bowled to him was one pitched around the off side and getting down on his haunches, Gatting attempted a reverse sweep. The ball hit his shoulder after touching the bat and keeper Greg Dyer, a key member of that World Cup-winning Australian line-up, was surprised while catching it that he had almost dropped it.

The Eden Gardens went up roaring, perhaps personifying the years of anger that had remained hidden in the psyche of the Bengalis who were once at the war front against the British colonisers. But from a pure cricketing point of view, Gatting's downfall triggered the derailment of the English chase and they ended up at 246 for eight to lose by seven runs.

Gatting was in the headlines a few years later, at the fag end of his career, for being at the receiving end of the 'ball of the century' delivered by a young gold-haired talent called Shane Warne and the old man must be still thinking today which of the two moments against Australia had hurt him more.

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Story first published: Wednesday, July 10, 2019, 14:19 [IST]
Other articles published on Jul 10, 2019
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