With still no live cricket in sight, we’re digging deep into YouTube to keep ourselves entertained. This week in What We’re Watching, a trip down memory lane with one of the most dominant one-day sides ever – Lancashire in the 1990s.
Wasim Akram too quick
Wasim Akram forged one of the great overseas careers with Lancashire. In the 1990 Benson & Hedges Cup final at Lord’s, he produced a blistering new-ball spell that put the county on course for a comfortable victory against Worcestershire.
Akram had already played his part with the bat as he clubbed 28 off 21 balls in a strong performance from Lancashire’s lower order (that was a feature of their side, as you will see). Akram was usually held back from the new ball – Lancashire’s one-day bowling options were tremendously deep – and on this day he came on as first change behind Paul Allott and Phillip DeFreitas.
He found the outside edge of Tim Curtis and then set about roughing up a young Graeme Hick, who soon edged to Warren Hegg as Lancashire took hold of the match. “Akram has looked likely to take a wicket with every ball,” said commentator Jack Bannister.
Surrey’s epic meltdown
One of the most extraordinary collapses in one-day cricket. In the 1993 Benson & Hedges Cup first-round match at The Oval, Surrey were 212 for 1 chasing 237, needing 25 from 35 balls. Graham Thorpe had a century to his name and Alec Stewart was on 95 when Peter Martin nipped one back into off stump. Surely just a blip on the way to victory?
Then Akram was brought back, strangling Monte Lynch down the leg side and removing Thorpe, well caught at midwicket by Ian Austin, in the 51st over. Such was the pressure built by Akram, Martin and Austin that the runs required soon overtook the balls remaining as Surrey’s middle order froze like rabbits in headlights although, in their defence, Akram and Austin produced a masterclass of yorker bowling. By the time the final over began, Surrey needed 14 with Waqar Younis (this was a golden era of the overseas player) and Martin Bicknell at the crease, but they couldn’t really get close.
Akram with the bat, this time
Hick’s century had led Worcestershire to a very competitive 261 for 5 in their 1995 Benson & Hedges Cup semi-final and Lancashire’s chase was in the mire at 169 for 7 as Hick added two wickets for good measure. Lancashire, though, were far from finished despite needing 71 off eight overs.
Akram, with some help from Warren Hegg, took 19 off the 48th over to spark the chase into life. Akram swung his way to a 41-ball half-century as the nerves started to show in the Worcestershire team. There then follows one of the many lovely pieces of commentary from Richie Benaud’s career:
“A slight change of tactics, perhaps, now they’ve realised they only need fractionally better than a run-a-ball. May be that fewer risks will be taken…”
Next ball: Hegg drives Phil Newport inside out over extra cover.
“You can forget what I said there, pay absolutely no attention to it, and thank heavens Warren Hegg didn’t hear it.”
Akram was bowled with 24 still needed, but Lancashire’s lower order was able to finish the job as Hegg and Gary Yates kept their cool.
A final-over Roses thriller
Like the season before against Worcestershire, in 1996, Lancashire pulled a chase out of the fire. And this time it was against their biggest rivals, Yorkshire, in a gripping contest spread over two days because of rain that went to the last ball.
Michael Bevan and Richard Blakey had led a Yorkshire recovery with an unbroken stand of 167 and when Lancashire fell to 97 for 5 then 174 for 7, victory was a long shot. However, Hegg unfurled a brilliant 81 off 62 balls (it would remain his highest one-day score) to bring Lancashire to within touching distance when he was bowled with 11 needed.
Yates, who had played a vital supporting hand, was run out by a brilliant throw from Anthony McGrath and it came to eight needed off the final over, bowled by Craig White, with Glen Chapple and Martin at the crease. Chapple drove a boundary first ball, but White got his yorkers in to leave Martin on strike with two needed off the last delivery. It was a pretty good ball from White, a wide yorker, but Martin managed to drive it through point to send the home fans into ecstasy.
Chapple’s demolition job
The NatWest Trophy, a 60-over one-day tournament, often finished with bowler-dominated matches at Lord’s in mid-September – the 1996 final between Lancashire and Essex fit into that bracket. Lancashire labored to 186 all out, anchored by John Crawley’s 66, but it would prove more than enough as Martin and Chapple devastated the Essex line-up.
Chapple’s 6 for 18 is what the final is remembered for, but it was Martin’s exemplary new-ball spell that set the tone as he removed Paul Grayson, Nasser Hussain (brilliantly caught by Hegg) and Paul Pritchard with a series of wicked legcutters. However, the ball of the day did belong to Chapple when he zipped an unplayable delivery past Robert Rollins. When Jason Gallian struck with his first ball, pinning Graham Gooch lbw, Essex were 33 for 7. A short while later they were 57 all out and Lancashire had completed the one-day double.
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