Cricket the way it used to be

Kapi-Mana News - - SPORT -

Build­ing up to next year’s Cricket World Cup, Sky Tele­vi­sion is show­ing high­lights from the 1992 tour­na­ment, played in Aus­tralia and New Zealand.

As TV3 pre­sen­ter John Camp­bell might say, it’s been ‘‘fas­ci­nat­ing’’.

New Zealand, billed as the young guns that sea­son, were out­stand­ing, win­ning seven suc­ces­sive matches but fall­ing to Pak­istan in un­likely cir­cum­stances in the semi-fi­nals.

It’s hard to be­lieve it was 22 years ago.

Watch­ing the cov­er­age through to­day’s eyes em­pha­sises how much the one- day game has changed.

Among changes:

Few bats­men wore hel­mets and those who did favoured the open front, which of­fered the face no pro­tec­tion.

The New Zealand bat­ting or­der seems com­i­cal in hind­sight. In the open­ing match against Aus­tralia, with quick runs needed at the end of the in­nings, Chris Har­ris went in, fol­lowed by Ian Smith, with Chris Cairns, who be­came a mighty six-hit­ter, held back and hardly fac­ing a ball.

Balls down the leg side were rarely wided.

Har­ris and Mark Great­batch look ab­surdly young, with full heads of hair, un­like their chrome domes now.

There were very few sixes – in that game against Aus­tralia, New

the

most

ob­vi­ous Zealand cap­tain Martin Crowe made an un­beaten cen­tury, but hit no sixes.

The bound­aries look dan­ger­ous. Rather than bound­ary ropes, there are hoard­ings, and play­ers of­ten crash into them.

The tele­vi­sion cov­er­age is ex­tremely dated. For ex­am­ple, there is no hotspot, and the bats­men’s scor­ing charts are vir­tu­ally mean­ing­less be­cause scor­ing strokes are de­picted from both ends. How­ever, the New Zealand com­men­ta­tors, such as John Mor­ri­son, Glenn Turner and Richard Hadlee, are much bet­ter than their coun­ter­parts to­day.

The crowd seems to in­vade the pitch at the drop of a hat, to salute not just a vic­tory, but a 50 or a cen­tury.

The bat­ting looks in­hib­ited com­pared to to­day’s free hit­ters (bred on Twenty20 cricket), the spin bowl­ing is or­di­nary and the field­ing not as slick as to­day’s, though Har­ris was truly out­stand­ing.

Scores were low. New Zealand made 248 against Aus­tralia, which Richie Be­naud de­scribed as ‘‘ won­der­ful’’ and a ‘‘ ter­rific per­for­mance’’. On a ground as small as Eden Park, such a score would be in­ad­e­quate to­day, but was good enough then to win com­fort­ably, even against David Boon, Dean Jones, Al­lan Bor­der, Mark and Steve Waugh and company.

Crowe was an in­no­va­tive and clever cap­tain that sea­son.

With 456 runs at an av­er­age of 114, he was the player of the tour­na­ment. An­drew Jones scored 322 runs, Great­batch 313 and Ken Ruther­ford 212. They were so good the lower or­der was hardly needed.

The New Zealand bowl­ing re­volved around spin­ner Di­pak Pa­tel, medium- pac­ers Har­ris, Gavin Larsen, Rod Latham and (slightly quicker) Wil­lie Wat­son. Fast bowlers Danny Mor­ri­son and Cairns each played in only five of New Zealand’s nine matches and did not bowl all their al­lot­ted overs.

They’ve gone dif­fer­ent ways since. Crowe is fight­ing can­cer now, Wat­son has noth­ing to do with cricket, and oth­ers pop up on the cricket scene from time to time.

The next World Cup is from Fe­bru­ary 14 till March 29, 2015. If it’s half as good as the 1992 ver­sion, cricket fans are in for a treat.

Photo: PHOTOSPORT

Top form: Martin Crowe bat­ting against Pak­istan dur­ing the 1992 World Cup.

JOSEPH ROMANOS

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