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08 October 201000:56

Gatting recalls World Cup memories

Former England cricketer Mike Gatting recalls 1987 World Cup memories

Gatting recalls World Cup memories - Cricket News

Mike Gatting of England.

Former England captain Mike Gatting still remembers the ICC Cricket World Cup 1987 for the crowds that thronged the venues in the two host countries of India and Pakistan.

Speaking 24 years to the day of the start of that event, Gatting recalled memories of leading England team to the final of the tournament, which ran from 8 October 1987 to 8 November 1987, and finished runners-up to Allan Border-led Australia.

"The sheer number of people who came to watch the games was just enormous. I was not used to seeing so many people at the games. But all around the subcontinent whether in India or Pakistan it was just an incredible sight to see the crowds. The people who came to watch the games were also quite knowledgeable," recalled Gatting.

Gatting came away with a lot of learnings from the 1987 tournament which he said came handy to him in his later years.

"One thing I learnt was that you need to be quite adept at playing spin. You need to know to manouevre the ball around when the spinners are bowling. The biggest thing with the seamers was the improvisation especially with the slower balls. I learnt a lot by watching the Indian players play spin."

Gatting noted that none of the things he learnt at the 1987 event are relevant anymore. He opined that the game has moved on so much more than his time that it made for a lot more interesting viewing for the paying public.

"We are talking 20 years on. The game has changed enormously. The way the teams play One-Day International cricket has changed. Look at some of the shots played then and now there is a massive change."

Gatting pointed to the score made by England in the semi-final of the ICC Cricket World Cup 1987 of 254 for six to make a point about the change in attitude. "A score like 250-odd in the 1987 semi-final (by England) would be considered probably below par these days. Nowadays a team looks to score 300 in their 50 overs, if not more."

Gatting still remembers the work put in by opener Graham Gooch leading up to the semi-final of the ICC Cricket World Cup 1987 against India at Mumbai's Wankhede Stadium.

"For the semi-finals we did some good homework. We realised that Ravi Shastri and Maninder Singh (India left-arm spinners) had bowled quite tidily giving away just three or four runs an over. If we needed to score 250 then we needed to score at least five runs an over. Graham Gooch practised for two days by sweeping the left-arm spinners at the nets. He kept playing the shot in front of square and behind square at the nets and got ready for the game."

But the most talked about moment of the ICC Cricket World Cup 1987 was the reverse sweep played by Gatting in the final against Australia at Kolkata's Eden Gardens.

"I had played the reverse sweep many times in the semi-final. If I had left the ball alone, it would have been a big wide (by Allan Border). It would have been an extra ball and we could have gone on. The ball hit my shoulder for some strange reason and that was it. Credit to the Australians for the way they batted in their last few overs. They got too many runs. And we came second best."

With less than 150 days to go for the start of the ICC Cricket World Cup 2011, Gatting had one simple advice to the England team, so that they go one better than his 1987 side.

"I would just say enjoy the tournament. England has some very good players. The thing is to play well and enjoy every moment of the action. These days players tend to forget that the game is to be enjoyed. They need to go out and express themselves. The rest will take care of itself," advised Gatting.

The former right-handed batsman opined that England would go into the ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 as one of sides to watch out for. But he felt India and Sri Lanka also have a very strong chance.

"India without doubt has enough talent in its one-day team to make it through to the final stages. Plus the fact that they are playing in their own country will make it even more interesting. Sri Lanka can get through as well. If Murali plays then it will strengthen Sri Lanka. Australia has a decent side, but don't have the same edge as before. The nice thing is that there are lots of sides playing good one-day cricket."

Among the other sides, Gatting picked New Zealand as a dark horse for the tournament.

"New Zealand is the dark horse in this sort of event. I expect either Sri Lanka or India to get through to the final. I would expect England will do okay. I hope England does all the things required to play in the subcontinent. I am sure they are working hard to get that right. So, the final four in my view will be Australia, India, England and Sri Lanka," opined Gatting.