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World Cup flashbacks: When little known Australian Graeme Porter topped bowling averages in 1979 edition


Bengaluru, April 13: The participating teams for the upcoming ICC World Cup are about to announce their squads this month (New Zealand have already announced theirs) and it will be interesting to see who all make the cut for the once-in-four-years opportunity.

Teams will look to pick their best for the big tournament to give the best, but factors like injury and form force them to alter plans at the last minute.

Talking about the selection of World Cup teams, the 1979 edition's (also played in England) Australia squad was an interesting one.

The finalists of the inuagural edition in 1975, in which they went down to the mighty Windies by just 17 runs in the final, the Aussies were led by Kim Hughes four years later.

As said earlier, teams eye to pick their best for tournaments, but in 1979, Australia picked a little known player called Graeme Porter who was not a known face by any measure. The 24-year-old medium-fast bowler was even a greenhorn by the standard of first-class cricket and never played a Test match.

Second-string in Kerry Packer days

In the era of heightened excitement of 'Kerry Packer Circus', the rookie Porter made the cut into an Australian side that comprised players who were either rebuffed or overlooked by Packer's World Series Cricket.

In a way, the 1979 squad of Australia was rather a 'B team' that was sent to England to win the biggest title in cricket.

Skipper Hughes was only 25 at the time and had become the captain almost by accident. The team, comprising players like Jeff Moss, Trevor Laughlin and Kevin Wright (wicket-keeper) was always considered an underdog in that tournament.

All these players indeed had a brief tenure on the international stage and Australia's short stay in the World Cup made it evident that they were never supposed to be world beaters.

But Porter surprised many in his 'blink-and-you-miss' it international career that only survived as long as Australia survived in the 1979 edition. He did not get to play the first of the three games that the Kangaroos played in that tournament and got one against Pakistan at Trent Bridge.

Hughes' men were thrashed by 89 runs by Pakistan after being a set a target of 287 but Porter stood bright in that loss by conceding just 20 runs from 12 overs at an average of 1.66. He also took the wicket of Pakistan opener Sadiq Mohammad after opening the bowling.

Porter got another game - his last - against Canada and in this game played at Edgbaston, the pacer came in at second change and took two wickets for 13 runs from six overs at an average of 2.16.

One of his two wickets was Canada's highest scorer in that match John Vaughan. Australia won the game by seven wickets after bowling out the opponents for just 105 but crashed out of the tournament because of the two prior losses (they also lost to England).

It was spotted by not too many people later that Porter had indeed topped the tournament's bowling average despite playing in just two games! Porter did not get a call ever again to play for Australia and finished his international career with a bowling average of 1.83!

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Story first published: Saturday, April 13, 2019, 15:51 [IST]
Other articles published on Apr 13, 2019
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