Inside Edge – `FIRST BALL: THE UPCOMING TRI-NATIONS ODI SERIES

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Alvin Kallicharran

THE Tri-Nations One-Day International series involving the West Indies, Australia and South Africa is scheduled to commence at the National Stadium, Providence, on Friday June 3 and end at the Kensington Oval, Barbados, on Sunday, June 26 when the final is billed to be contested.The 10-match series promises to be an exciting affair with the International Cricket Council’s top team (Australia) and the number three ranked side (South Africa) strong favourites against a wilting West Indies outfit languishing at eighth position, but one that is capable of springing surprises.
The record shows that the West Indies and Australia have been engaged in 135 ODIs with the Aussies winning 70 of the encounters, as against the West Indies count of 59. Three of the games have ended in ties, while another three were designated ‘no results.’
The first duel between these two great cricketing nations occurred on neutral territory in the inaugural World Cup staged in England in 1975. The West Indies already having easily disposed of the minnows Sri Lanka and earning a thrilling one-wicket victory over Pakistan were set to play their last preliminary game against the Aussies at the Kennington Oval in London on June 14.
Clive Lloyd, the Windies skipper, called correctly and had no hesitation in requesting of his opposite number, Ian Chappell, to take first use of the wicket in the face of slightly overcast conditions. His bowlers responded admirably, dismissing the Australians for just 192 in 53.4 of the allotment of 60 overs per side.
In fact, the Aussies were stuttering at 61 for five at one stage, which included the prize wickets of the Chappell brothers, Ian and Greg, both caught by wicketkeeper Deryck Murray off outstanding outswingers produced by Keith Boyce-all in the space of six deliveries.
It was left to the middle-order batsman Ross Edwards (58) and the wicketkeeper Rod Marsh (52 not out) to save some face with a fighting sixth-wicket partnership of 99, but once Edwards fell to a reckless shot off the part-timer Viv Richards, the end came too swiftly for Australian comfort.
The speed ace Andy Roberts claimed 3 for 39, Boyce 2 for 38 and Richards 2 for 18 amidst brilliant West Indies fielding and catching.
The Caribbean side then made light work of the victory target, racing to 195 for three in 46 overs to romp to a comprehensive seven-wicket win and book a place in one of the semi-finals alongside New Zealand.
After losing the young opener Gordon Greenidge leg before wicket to the experienced Max Walker for 16 with the score at 29, Roy Fredericks (58 with 5 fours) and Alvin Kallicharran with a ‘Player of the Match’ knock of 78, added 124 for the second wicket in a blistering stand that sent the partisan West Indian crowd into a frenzy.
Though Fredericks played some rollicking square cuts and deft shots of his own, it was the little left-hander Kallicharran who really set the Oval alight, cracking 13 fours and one six in a most entertaining and exciting 78.
In a most memorable period of play, he tore into Australia’s premier fast bowler Dennis Lillee whom he dispatched for 35 runs off 10 deliveries with a sequence of hooks, pulls and drives which yielded scores of 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 1, 4, 6, 0 and 4.
Amidst the carnage, Lillee, Walker and the off-spinner Ashley Mallet bagged a wicket apiece.
Like the West Indies and Australia’s first engagement, the Windies and South Africa first played each other in an ODI game in a World Cup-the fifth tournament which was held in Australia and New Zealand in 1992.
Of course, due to South Africa’s apartheid policies and their subsequent isolation from the international cricketing fold for 22 years between 1970 and 1992, the team could have only resumed playing international games after the ban had been lifted.
Shortly before the commencement of the World Cup, South Africa had visited India for a three-match series under the veteran Clive Rice, but he was now replaced by Kepler Wessels, who had the experience of turning out in 54 ODIs in Australian colours between 1983 and 1985.
The West Indies-South Africa game was played at Christchurch on March 5, 1992 on a quick pitch, where the faster bowlers ruled supreme. West Indies, under Richie Richardson, on winning the toss, decided to field first and reduced the South Africans to just 200 for eight off their full quota of 50 overs.
Some five batsmen registered scores between 20 and 23, but it was the number three batsman, Peter Kirsten-with the aid of a runner for the better part of his innings-who lent some respectability to the cause with a solid 56 spread over 91 deliveries and aided by just two fours.
The late, great Malcolm Marshall-involved in the penultimate game of his illustrious career-bowled beautifully to end with two for 26, while Curtly Ambrose (2/34) and Andy Cummins (2/40) lent admirable support.
The West Indies were soon rocked back at 19 for four with Brian Lara-opening the batting-departing for nine. He was soon followed by Richardson (1), Carl Hooper (0) and Keith Arthurton (0) to a combination of testing bowling and reckless shots.
Augustine Logie with a pugnacious 61 (69 balls, 9 fours and a six) and the veteran opener Desmond Haynes with a brave 30 were the top-scorers. Haynes was struck twice on his right forefinger which was already in a splint and he was forced to retire with the intention of visiting the hospital, but when two more wickets fell quickly, he returned.
From 116 for six, the West Indies crashed to 136 all out in 38.4 overs as the right-arm medium-fast bowler, Meyrick Pringle, returned remarkable figures of four for 11 off 6.4 overs with all of his wickets coming in the space of 11 balls-a performance good enough to earn him the ‘Player of the Match’ award.
Richard Snell (2/16) and Adrian Kuiper (2/51) also assisted in carrying the South Africans to a comfortable 64-run win.
To date, the West Indies and South Africa have engaged each other in 58 ODIs. The South Africans have been victorious in no less than 43 games, while the West Indies are lagging behind on 13. The teams have played to one tie and one game was declared a ‘no result.’
Though the Australians and South Africans contested their first Test against each other in 1902-03, it was not until February 26, 1992 that they engaged themselves in an ODI for the first time when the sides met at the Sydney Cricket Ground in the World Cup.
Coincidentally, the very first Test match and the last between the two teams on Australian soil before the ban was imposed was played on the very ground on which this historic ODI game was scheduled to be witnessed-the Sydney Cricket Ground.
On winning the toss in a match that was reduced to 49 overs per side, the Australian skipper Allan Border opted to bat first, but his team struggled to a paltry 170 for nine, averaging just 3.46 runs per over in the process.
After a promising start of 42 between the openers David Boon (27) and Geoff Marsh (25), Border’s team lost wickets at regular intervals slipping from 76 for one to 108 for five and then eventually to the innings total of 170 for nine.
The fast bowler Allan Donald led the way with three for 34, ably supported by Brian McMillan’s effort of two for 35, but it was Adrian Kuiper’s two for 15-dismissing Rod Marsh and Border with consecutive deliveries-that perhaps had the greatest impact.
The spectacular fielding of Jonty Rhodes at cover was the talk of the town.
South Africa then cruised to an emphatic nine-wicket victory, hurrying to 171 for one in 46.5 overs with captain Wessels carving an unbeaten 81 (148 balls, 9 fours) against his former team. He added 74 for the first wicket with Andrew Hudson (28) and an unfinished 97-run second-wicket stand with Peter Kirsten (49 not out) as the Proteas flexed their muscles irresistibly.
In an effort to stem the tide, Australia used seven bowlers, but in the end only the off-spinner Peter Taylor with one for 32 had any success.
It didn’t help Australia’s cause that wicketkeeper Ian Healey pulled a hamstring while batting and couldn’t take the field. David Boon took on the duties behind the stumps and from all reports, the Aussie’s fielding was poor.
Currently, the two sides have played 88 ODIs against each other with the Aussies winning 46 games as opposed to 39 wins for South Africa. Three games have ended in ties.
So, let the series begin!