3RD MATCH -- ZIMBABWE v WEST INDIESAt Worcester; 13 June 1993. ZIMBABWE 217/7 (D L Houghton 54, D A G Fletcher 71*; A M E Roberts 3/36). WEST INDIES 218/2 (C G Greenidge 105*, H A Gomes 75*). West Indies won by eight wickets [full scorecard].
After two matches in the World Cup, Zimbabwe had had one good match and one bad match; in the words of Andy Pycroft, "We now knew where we were." The urge now was to pick themselves up and play like they should.
The West Indies were the clear favourites for the tournament, possessing a magnificent pace-bowling attack and a very powerful batting line-up. They had surprisingly lost their opening match to India, as they were later to lose the final, but then beat Australia by 101 runs, with Winston Davis taking seven wickets for 51 runs, an analysis which was to remain a one-day international record for years and is still a World Cup record.
The Zimbabweans again felt extremely nervous before the match, due to play against big names they had only heard or read about. They did have some advantage, though, in the fact that the Young West Indies team had visited Zimbabwe only eighteen months previously, so they were familiar with such players as Dujon, Haynes, Bacchus, Davis, Daniel and Marshall, who was not playing in this match. They had put up a fair performance against them, especially Pycroft, and this helped to give confidence.
Zimbabwe were again put in to bat, on another rain-affected day but also with plenty of sun, on losing the toss. They soon found that, although the West Indians were very affable off the field and they know many of them well, they would in no way yield an inch on the field and played in top gear throughout, although always in the right spirit. Ali Shah took strike against Michael Holding, and he described this as a most exciting experience.
Zimbabwe soon lost both him and Grant Paterson. Jack Heron battled manfully, but Pycroft was run out just as he was settling in. He cut a ball which was half-stopped by Viv Richards in the gully and Heron called for a run. Despite having to turn and run back about ten yards, Richards brilliantly threw down the stumps at the bowler's end to run Pycroft out. The Zimbabweans had been reluctant to look for singles more readily due to their fear of the fielding skills of Clive Lloyd and Viv Richards in particular, and this inhibited them further, causing them to look to score mainly in boundaries, not a good policy in one-day cricket.
Then came two magnificent innings by Dave Houghton and Duncan Fletcher, who shared a partnership of 92 for the fifth wicket. They were helped by the necessary replacement of the pace attack by the part-time bowling of Richards and Larry Gomes; they ran well between the wickets and pulled Zimbabwe back into the game. Gerald Peckover, who was also a fine wicket-keeper and a good enough bat to open the innings, played in that match as a specialist batsman coming in at number nine, so loaded was the Zimbabwean team with all-rounders such as Fletcher, Curran and Butchart, and he scored a brisk 16 at the end.
217 for seven was not the greatest score, although in those days it was considered much better than it would be nowadays. However, by such inexperienced players against such a strong attack, it was most creditable. The team felt it was at least competitive; if they could get an early wicket they might be able to put the West Indies under pressure.
In fact they got two early wickets: Peter Rawson had Desmond Haynes caught at the wicket off a ball that moved away off the seam, and then dismissed Richards after being hit for a couple of boundaries. Richards hit a perfect outswinger for four through the covers; Rawson then bowled a fine off-cutter, which Richards shaped to hit through the off side, only to find it cutting in unexpectedly off the seam. No problem for Richards -- he simply turned his wrists and flicked it through the leg side for four. But then he moved across his stumps on the back foot, only to find another off-cutter whipping in and hitting him on the back pad. Richards later confided to Ali Shah that he thought the ball was going down leg side, but was prepared to accept it on the basis that sometimes it worked the other way round.
Zimbabwe's elation was understandable and for the first time they entertained visions of victory. But they were soon to be disillusioned. Larry Gomes played his customary calm, poised, stabilising innings for the West Indies, while Greenidge, after the early losses, played a totally uncharacteristic innings. He indulged in few big shots, hitting just five fours and a six in his eventual century, and Robin Brown thinks only one four in his first fifty runs. Apart from his six, he rarely lifted the ball off the ground, and most of his fours came from glides rather than full-blooded attacking strokes. Ali Shah does remember Greenidge driving him straight back, chest high, and says, "If I hadn't taken evasive action, I wouldn't be here today." In contrast to the Zimbabweans, they ran the ball around the ground skilfully, but had many potential boundaries cut off by brilliant Zimbabwean fielding. This pair timed the innings perfectly, winning the match for their team by eight wickets with nine balls to spare. Vince Hogg describes his masterly innings as simply 'awesome'. Their unbroken partnership was worth 195, and was interrupted more than once due to bad light.
Ali Shah recalls bowling to Gomes, who he says always angled his bat towards fine leg when playing forward defensively, so that the outside edge of his bat was very chipped and dented. He even had marks on the back of his bat from when he was beaten by the ball. The effect this had on bowlers was to encourage them with the false hope that they had uncovered a glaring weakness and to make them aim more to the off in the hope of a snicked catch, but then Gomes would pick off the runs through the off-side field. Shah found him a very difficult player to bowl to, and thinks that any bowler would struggle to dismiss him unless the ball was seaming around, despite his apparent technical weakness.
This gave the Zimbabweans an object lesson in how to bat second chasing a target, and that even the greats need to build an innings on ones and twos in these situations. That Greenidge should have chosen to play like this was in fact a compliment to the Zimbabweans, especially Rawson, who was outstanding. The West Indians who had not played against Zimbabwe before were most impressed by their standard of play.
Robin Brown, who was not playing in the match, sat in the West Indian changing rooms during their innings and heard them praise the Zimbabwean fielding; they rated the Zimbabweans as the best fielding side in the world and named Gerald Peckover as the best fielder they had ever seen.
Andy Pycroft remembers that after the game, as the Zimbabweans and West Indians had a few drinks together, they discussed cricket together and found the West Indians very helpful, as did several others. Brown found Richards rather aloof, as if unwilling to talk to mere mortals, but Lloyd and others were most helpful. Zimbabwean and West Indian teams have generally got on well together on the few occasions they have met, although many Zimbabweans have found their dialect difficult to understand. Whenever the two teams met up, the players would get together and enjoy each other's company. Of all the Test teams they met during the tour, most Zimbabweans found the West Indians the most pleasant off the field, humble and down-to-earth.
Malcolm Marshall and Desmond Haynes, appropriately since both eventually retired to become coaches, were particularly helpful in giving the Zimbabweans tips about the game. Pycroft remembers once telling Marshall how much difficulty he had handling the latter's bouncer, which tended to skid through and follow the batsman who tried to duck, and Marshall actually showed him how he held the ball across instead of along the seam for this particular delivery.
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