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Winston Davis creates history on World Cup debut

Last updated on 12 Jun 2020 | 05:11 AM
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Winston Davis creates history on World Cup debut

On this day in 1983, the West Indies fast bowler recorded the best bowling figures in ODIs

We have witnessed many cricketers, who have possessed the talent to make it big, but due to the constant presence of a few great cricketers in the XI, were unable to play at the highest level on a consistent basis. West Indies fast bowler Winston Davis is one such example. When he came into the West Indies side, they already boasted of fierce fast bowlers like Michael Holding, Malcolm Marshall, Joel Garner and Andy Roberts among others. Being a regular was always going to be difficult, and all you could do in such circumstances was to make the best out of whatever opportunities that came your way.

That is exactly what Davis did when he was given a chance in the XI amid a host of changes in the 1983 World Cup game against Australia. And when he got that opportunity, he grabbed it with both hands and went on to register 7 for 51 - the best-ever bowling figures in One-Day International (ODI) history back then – in just his second 50-over match for West Indies.


Having won both the World Cups, West Indies looked to make a hat-trick and the Clive Lloyd-led side had all the ingredients to make it happen. However, they suffered a loss in the first game of the competition – their first in the mega event in its three editions -  against India and as far as their next opponents Australia were concerned, they too suffered an embarrassing 13-run loss against a Duncan Fletcher inspired Zimbabwe, who were playing the tournament for the first time.

As a result, the West Indies vs Australia fixture became a crucial tie for both the teams. Vital points were at stake and another slip-up at such an early stage could be hard to recover from as the tournament rolled on. 

The match

On a damp pitch, Australia captain Kim Hughes had no hesitation to put West Indies in. Due to the rain, the match could not begin before 3:30pm BST, but with reserve days in place it could be carried forward to the next day as well. The decision turned out to be right as an early wicket by Rodney Hogg and a double strike from Geoff Lawson had the defending champions tottering at 32 for 3. Larry Gomes and Lloyd resurrected the innings to a certain extent before the latter was trapped in front for 19 and the score read 78 for 4. West Indies needed a partnership from somewhere as Australia looked to be closing in on restricting the Windies to a moderate total.

That’s when Gomes came together with Faoud Bacchus. Wickets were of key essence for West Indies at that point and while keeping theirs intact, they also stitched a useful partnership. While Gomes was happy to rotate strike, Bacchus was more of the aggressor, but just when he was looking in fine touch he hit the ball straight to Kepler Wessels for a 59-ball 47 off Graham Yallop – the last of his three ODI wickets. Gomes reached his fifty and the day ended with West Indies at 160 for 5. 

Gomes built another important partnership of 38 for the sixth wicket with Jeff Dujon, which took West Indies closer to the 200-run mark when play resumed the next morning. Gomes was finally out for a patient 78 off 153, but Holding and Wayne Daniel added 41 more runs for the ninth wicket to end West Indies’ innings at 252 for 9. 

Not too long ago against India the last wicket pair of Roberts and Garner added 71 for the final wicket, but still could not get over the line, but will the tailenders’ contribution be enough this time around?

The chase and the world record

Once Roberts cleaned up Wessels for 11 and then Holding hit Graeme Hood on the head with a deadly bouncer causing him to retire hurt, West Indies never really looked back. After Roberts and Holding did the initial damage, it was Davis who took over. In his only other ODI, Davis had figures of 1 for 40 against India in Albion, Guyana in March that year. The match is of course well known for India’s first-ever limited-overs victory over the mighty West Indies. But here he was, thrown into the deep end not knowing if he’ll sink or swim. 

Hughes was Davis’ first victim. The Aussie skipper had already hit a couple of sixes but played one shot too many and a square-cut landed in the grateful hands of Lloyd at first slip. David Hookes and Yallop then strung together a useful stand. They were scoring at a brisk pace and at 114 for 2, Australia looked to be in a position where they could actually go on to win the game. However, the 24-year-old Davis had other ideas. Yallop and Hughes were dismissed in quick succession and Holder removed Rod Marsh at the other end.

Australia needed another 114 from 192 deliveries and keeping their wickets intact was going to be key with Allan Border still at the crease. However, the Australian batsmen could not hold their nerve as Lawson’s heave found an outside edge to Dujon followed by the big scalp of Border after a he top-edged a wild slog to Lloyd. Davis had a 6-for and was only the second bowler to achieve that in a World Cup match – in the 31st over of the innings.

Video Courtesy: AudmanetTV on YouTube

The final nail in the coffin was when Dennis Lillee was cleaned up by Davis, helping his team win by a massive 101 runs and as a result, become the first bowler with a seven-wicket haul not just in a World Cup match, but in an ODI. 

What followed

After beating Australia in the first match, Zimbabwe failed to register a single win in the tournament

Australia were knocked out in the group stages at the hands of India

India, who went into the tournament as underdogs overcame West Indies again in the final to lift their maiden title

Davis could add just one more wicket to his tally in his next four World Cup matches

In 1998, Davis fell off a tree and was paralysed from neck down after suffering a blow on his spinal cord. He now runs the ‘Winston Davis Trust’ an organization that helps people with disabilities in the UK

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