Courtney Walsh’s gesture cost his team a World Cup semi-final berth.© AFP
The International Cricket Council on Thursday posted a video of West Indies fast bowling star Courtney Walsh as it recalled the bowler’s fine gesture of not running out Pakistan lower-order batsman Saleem Jaffar as the two teams were involved crucial match at Lahore on October 16, 1987. “Not running Saleem Jaffar in the World Cup of 1987… people still recognize it and appreciate it,” Walsh said in the ICC video. “I just couldn’t do it without a warning, and as a youngster the spirit of the game meant a lot to me. And because of the gesture and the way it was appreciated, that’ll be a memory that will always be with me.”
Walsh’s decision to not run out Jaffar at the non-striker’s end on the final ball of a league-stage game against Pakistan in the 1987 Men’s World Cup in Lahore eventually cost the West Indies a place in the World Cup semi-finals for the first time. West Indies finished the league stage with three wins out of six matches with a better net run-rate than Pakistan, but the co-hosts of the tournament had won five of their games and qualified for the final four.
It was the ninth match of the tournament and while Pakistan had won both their games thus far, West Indies had won one and lost the other. It was the halfway mark for both teams and the West Indies were desperate for a win. It is in this context that Walsh’s refusal to run Jaffar out with Pakistan needing two runs to win off the last ball is relevant.
As Walsh ran in to bowl the final ball, Abdul Qadir, who had hit a six only two balls ago, needed to get two runs to win. Jaffar backed up too far trying to gain a head start and Walsh observed this in his run-up and stopped upon reaching his delivery stride. But instead of running Jaffar out and ending the match, he simply warned the batsman to stay in the crease and walked back to the top of his mark.
The batsmen ran two off the final ball and won Pakistan the game.
Helped by Vivian Richard’s 51 and debutant Phil Simmons’ 50 the West Indies put up 216 on the board, and with Pakistan needing 14 to win off the final over captain Richards gave the ball to Walsh.
It eventually came down to 10 off 3 and that’s when Qadir hit a six over long-off and ran two off the next to reduce the equation to 2 off 1. Walsh’s gesture then meant his team lost the game and a place in the semi-finals for first time ever.
Walsh finished that match with figures of 4/40 and finished his career with 227 ODI wickets to go along with 519 in Tests – the most by a West Indies bowler.
Since the 1987 edition, the West Indies have made the final four of a World Cup only one more time in 1996.
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