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World Cup flashbacks: When McDermott ran wearing raincoat ahead of 1987 edition

Craig McDermott

Bengaluru, April 26: The 1987 World Cup marked a transition as the power centre of the game shifted to the South of the Equator.

While the sub-continent held the tournament for the first time, especially after Kapil Dev's India had boosted the psyche of all of Asia after that final of 1983, the on-field mastery had shifted from the West Indies to Australia.

Allan Border's side was snubbed as underdogs when the tournament started with the likes of Zaheer Abbas even calling them "schoolkids".

But not many had succeeded in seeing the planning that the Kangaroos had made while going into the tournament they had not won till then. Coach Bobby Simpson's role in preparing the team for the big occasion was particularly notable.

The highest wicket-taker

One of the members of that young side who had made the headlines with his preparation was Craig McDermott.

Aged 22 then, McDermott proved to the most lethal weapon for the Aussies in the tournament, ending up with 18 wickets including a fifer against Pakistan in Lahore in the semifinal that delayed Imran Khan's dream of winning the trophy by another fiveyears.

With 18 scalps, Craig McDermott was the highest wicket-taker in the 1987 World Cup

But there was no shortcut to McDermott's success in the 1987 World Cup. The man had taken a special preparation for the occasion by exercising in steam rooms back in Brisbane and running through the streets wearing a raincoat, only to raise his stamina to suit the humid conditions that prevail in India in the months of October and November.

It was only in the year before that McDermott's colleague Dean Jones had a torrid time batting in that famous tied Test match in Chennai (then Madras) and had landed in the hospital after losing tons of body fluids while scoring a double hundred.

McDermott or 'Billy' as he was called, recalled his special training for the World Cup saying a photograph of him doing the unique practice gave the impression that he just came out of Changi prison, Singapore.

However, as fate had it, McDermott returned to play the next World Cup that was held in the sub-continent in 1996. He was 31 then. However, the bowler with almost 500 international wickets did not survive his first game in the tournament which was against Kenya and was ruled out with an injury. It happened to be his final game for Australia.

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Story first published: Friday, April 26, 2019, 14:13 [IST]
Other articles published on Apr 26, 2019
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