‘Catches win matches’ is an old and a proven adage in cricket. Irrespective of the level of difficulty, a catch drop in a crunch situation is considered to be a grave sin. The worst part is some of those drops haunt the players even in their post-retirement life.
The cost of a drop catch is not always proportionate to the runs scored by a batsman after the drop. For example, a drop of a number 11 batsman who wouldn’t score much, but would play as an anchor alongside a proper batsman can be costly. Especially when it is a series decider or a World Cup match and the drop decides your team’s fate. Let’s have a look at some of the drops that proved to be extremely costly.
Herschelle Gibbs drops Steve Waugh – 1999 World Cup Super Six game
The drop from Gibbs in the 1999 World Cup can be termed as the costliest ever in cricketing history. It was the last match of the Super Six stage and South Africa had already made it to the semi-finals. However, for the Steve Waugh led Australians, it was a must win encounter. A target of 272 for Australia meant it needed a good start, but they were 48/3 in the chase. Ricky Ponting and Waugh were shouldering the chase cautiously. Just after reaching his half-century, Waugh had a lapse in concentration when a flick lobbed to Gibbs at mid-wicket of Lance Klusener in the 31st over.
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The moment the ball was in the air and heading towards Gibbs, the fate of Australia in the World Cup looked bleak. In any case, seconds later the ball popped out of Gibbs’ hand when he lost control over the ball as he tried to throw it up in celebration. After that Waugh went on to score 120 off 110 balls guiding Australia to the semis with a win. And as they say the rest is history. Australia tied with South Africa in the semi-final in one of the most dramatic ODIs of all time but went through by virtue of their win in the previous match against the same opponents. Eventually they would be crowned champions of the ‘99 edition.
Ross Edwards drops Clive Lloyd – 1975 World Cup final
Two cricketing giants, West Indies and Australia had locked horns in the first-ever World Cup final at Lord’s in 1975. Australian skipper, Ian Chappell won the toss and sent West Indies into bat first. The decision proved right as the mighty top three of West Indies (Roy Fredericks, Gordon Greenidge and Alvin Kallicharan) crumbled against the Aussie quicks.
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At 50/3, Rohan Kanhai and Clive Lloyd started to resurrect the innings. Batting on 26, Lloyd mis-timed a pull off Dennis Lillee towards mid-wicket. Ross Edwards, who was an athletic fielder grassed the chance. This lost opportunity cost Australia badly as Lloyd scored 102 off 85 deliveries and guided the Windies to 291. Australia lost the match by 17 runs and the Lloyd-led West Indies went on to lift the World Cup.
Graham Gooch drops Imran Khan – 1992 World Cup final
This is another instance in which a drop in the final cost the World Cup, but this time it was the captain who was the culprit. It was the third time that England were in the final of a World Cup in 1992. Pakistan skipper Imran Khan, batting first promoted himself to number 3 after the early loss of the openers. Imran and Miandad, were very slow to start as they scored only 14 runs in 11 overs.
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On the brink of an acceleration, Imran top-edged a ball that ballooned towards square leg in the 21st over off Phil DeFreitas. Gooch running in puts in a dive, holds on to the catch, but the ball pops out when he hits the ground. Imran added 63 runs after getting a life. Pakistan put on 249 and went on to win the 1992 edition by 22 runs. Though it was a difficult chance, the drop possibly denied England an early World Cup victory.
Marlon Samuels drops Martin Guptill – 2015 World Cup quarter-final
Martin Guptill recorded the highest individual score (237*) till date in a World Cup match against West Indies in their quarter-final in 2015. Brendon McCullum, the Blackcaps skipper won the toss and chose to bat in Wellington.
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West Indies had a sloppy start conceding a boundary off the first ball, but a bigger mistake was due two balls later. Marlon Samuels at square leg fluffed a sitter when Guptill flicked it straight to him off the third delivery of the match, when he was on 4. New Zealand posted a mammoth total of 393 with the help of Guptill’s 237*. West Indies lost the match by 143-runs. Later, the Kiwis defeated South Africa and made it to their first-ever World Cup final.
Thisara Perera drops Rohit Sharma – India v Sri Lanka in 2014
The drop by Thisara Perera off Rohit Sharma would go down as one of the costliest drops in ODIs in terms of numbers. Rohit was batting on 4 off 16 deliveries in Kolkata when he charged at a widish delivery, but only to get a top edge that flew straight to third man. Thisara made a mess of a simple catch. Shaminda Eranga who had produced the opportunity had his hands on his head with an excruciating look.
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What followed after, remains as a historical page in ODI record books. Rohit added 260 runs after the drop, which is nine runs more than what Sri Lanka’s total score was in the chase.
Chris Scott drops Brian Lara – County game in 1994
There has been no recorded instance of a drop catch in cricket that has cost more than Chris Scott’s. In a match against Warwickshire, Scott, the Durham wicketkeeper put down Brian Lara on 18 in his monumental innings of 501*.
In reply to Durham’s 556, Lara was early to come into bat as Dominic Ostler the opener couldn’t contribute much. Irrespective of the good form he was carrying, Lara at the start looked scratchy. He was bowled from Anderson Cummins off a no-ball on 12. Later, when batting on 18, an easy drop by Scott behind the wickets helped his cause. Lara batted for another day and a half and scored 483 more runs thereby becoming the only batsman to score 501* in first-class cricket.
Saeed Anwar drops Mark Taylor twice – 1998 Peshawar Test
Mark Taylor’s 334* against Pakistan in Peshawar in 1998, is regarded as one of the best innings by an overseas batsman in subcontinental conditions. In the 2nd Test Taylor batted first and opened the innings. Taylor had scored an unbeaten 112 at the end of day’s play, all thanks to Saeed Anwar. Taylor was presented with opportunities, not once but twice. He was batting on 18 and 27 when both the chances were fluffed. It was the combination of Mushtaq Ahmed and Anwar both times. Taylor went on to bat the whole of day 2 and scored an unbeaten 334. Australia declared at their overnight score of 599/4. The match eventually ended in a draw.
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‘Oh dear’ was the reaction on air from Richie Benaud to the butter fingers of Kiran More. In the 1st Test of the England tour in 1990 at Lord’s, India skipper Mohammad Azharuddin chose to field. Kapil Dev provided an early breakthrough as Atherton was sent packing for 8. Gooch and David Gower were making steady progress just before Sanjeev Sharma produced an opportunity. When batting on 36, a full-length delivery that had late away movement, caught the edge and carried to the keeper at a perfect height. A regulation chance was grassed by More behind the stumps.
Gooch carried on from there to score a daunting 333 and followed it up with a 123 in the 2nd innings. That was the last of Sharma, after this match, he didn’t feature for India. India lost the match by 123 runs.