WC87 Group A: New Zealand v Zimbabwe, 10 October 1987

10 October 1987

Jeff Crowe tinkered with the batting line-up and sent Snedden to open with regular opener Wright. Snedden did a fine job. Martin Crowe played a lovely knock and Ian Smith chipped in with some lusty batting. Traicos was the only bowler to make any impression and NZ finished off with a tidy total of 242.

Traicos also changed the batting line-up, sending all-rounder Ali Shah to open with regular opener Robin Brown and the other opener, Grant Patterson ultimately came at no. 7. The Zimbabwean batting crumbled even though the NZ attack was not at all threatening. In fact, during the WC, the NZ attack was sometimes said to be weaker than Zimbabwe's! In any case, Zimb disintegrated to 7/104 with wicket-keeper and vice-capt Dave Houghton being the only one giving any fight at all. But he found a sticky ally in Ian Butchart and together they put on a record 117 runs for the 8th wkt. People who had left the stadium now came rushing back as Houghton pummelled the tiring NZ attack. Jeff Crowe was looking distinctly worried now. He certainly didn't want to follow the example of the Aussies (1983)! But Houghton was tiring. He would crouch after evry run and it seemed as if he was developing cramps. Just as there began talk of Houghton eclipsing Kapil's 175 or Richards' 189, Houghton went for a big 6 off Snedden and was brilliantly caught by Martin Crowe who ran from mid-on to long- off to catch the ball (it was ultimately ruled as the catch of the WC). Houghton's 142 had lasted 144 balls.

Jeff Crowe could now sigh in relief. Or could he? This time he hadn't accounted for Butchart who had played 2nd fiddle (or rather 5th!) to Houghton. With 22 runs to get, Butchart took charge. Brandes was unfortunately runout by Crowe's magnificent throw from deep mid-on, but the Zimbabwean skipper stood by. Butchart smashed Snedden for a six over mid-wicket, and that brought up his 50, although in the ensuing excitement no one seemed to notice, not even the commentators. With 7 balls left and 7 to get Butchart took a single to retain strike.

Now Crowe was in a fix. Watson and Chatfield, his two most economical bowlers, had completed their quotas, and because of his mis-caculation, Snedden had bowled the 49th over! Who would bowl the last over? The job was entrusted to Boock. The 1st 2 balls resulted in singles to Butchart and Traicos respectively.With 4 to get in 4 balls, Butchart missed the next delivery and then wemt for a big swipe off the 4th ball. He missed it, the ball hit his pad, and Traicos rightfully charged down for a leg-bye. Butchart foolishly stood his ground, looking confused for the 1st time in the match. Reality suddenly dawned upon him and he ran towards the non-striker's end, but unfortunately, he could not beat Wright's accurate throw from mid-wicket to Boock.

This match shall forever be known for Zimbabwe's fantastic fielding (it was the best in the WC throughout the WC), Houghton's brilliant innings, and Butchart's foolish run out. It therefore called ``Houghton's match'', and sometimes as ``Butchart's match''.

Thanks Shardul Nitin Mehta (corsair@chopin.udel.edu)

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