Bengaluru, April 22: England had a poor start to their World Cup campaign in 1996 as they lost to New Zealand by 14 runs in the first game in Ahmedabad. They next met the United Arab Emirates (UAE), one of the three debutants in the WC that year, in Peshawar.
UAE skipper Sultan Zarawani won the toss and elected to bat but the Asians were in trouble straightaway, losing half their side for just 49. Three out of the five wickets were taken by off-spinner Neil Smith who was playing just his third ODI game. The Warwickshire bowler's 3 for 29 remained his career-best figure.
However, what was stunning for the viewers after the break is that Smith came out to open the batting innings with Alec Stewart. In the two earlier ODIs that he had played in early 1996, he was slotted to bat at No.9 and No.10, respectively. He scored three at No.9 while he didn't get to bat in the other match.
However, the sapping heat in Peshawar was perhaps too much for the 29-year-old to endure. He scored 27 off 31 balls with four boundaries as England were left to chase just 137 runs in 50 overs but then the elements got him. Smith started vomiting so much so that he had to be escorted out of the ground and could not bat again in that game although that did not stop him from bagging the man of the match award. England won that game by 8 wickets.
England chairman Ray Illingworth later said in familiar witty style: "He (Smith) had a pizza last night. Now it's on the field out there."
Smith was back as the opener again against the Netherlands, the other debutant that England faced in that WC, and he hit 31 off 33 balls with five boundaries though went wicketless while bowling. England won this one by 49 runs.
Smith then opened for the third consecutive time in the WC and it was against South Africa. The Warwickshire player didn't have as easy a run against the stronger opponents this time and was castled by Fanie de Villiers for just 11 in 24 balls. Earlier, he took just one wicket while bowling.
It was the end of the road for Smith in the WC as he was replaced by another Smith and a more accomplished one - Robin - in opening. Smith, in fact, played just two more ODIs after that WC and faded out by May 1996.