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CWC Memories: Australia win the 1987 Cricket World Cup

CWC feature

On the anniversary of the 1987 Cricket World Cup Final, we look back at Australia’s maiden title.

The 1987 Cricket World Cup Final took place in Kolkata, with old foes Australia and England meeting - both aiming to win the title for the first time.

It was a second Final appearance for both countries, with Australia losing out to West Indies in the inaugural decider in 1975 and England falling to the same opposition four years later in 1979. There had to be a maiden champion, and it was Allan Border’s Australia who triumphantly held the Cricket World Cup aloft following a seven-run win over their old rivals.

Looking on their success after receiving winner’s medals in 2015, Border said, “We were a very unfancied side back in those days, but I knew the group we had would give it a red-hot go. I suppose it was beyond our wildest dreams that we’d actually win the thing, but it was a special time in our lives.”

Allan Border became the first Australian captain to lift the trophy.
Allan Border became the first Australian captain to lift the trophy.

Asked where it ranked in his list of career achievements, he added: “It’s right up there, no doubt about it. We’d come out of a pretty struggling couple of years as far as results go for Australian cricket. That core group of players that played in that World Cup really started to turn things around as far as our results and the way we played. It was a very special time. It turned things around, from that point we started to get more and more success.”

Both Australia and England followed similar paths to the Final; finishing second in their respective groups before beating table-toppers Pakistan and India respectively in the Semi-Finals to book their spot in the Kolkata showpiece.

Tens of thousands of fans were crammed into Eden Gardens to see the Final, hoping for a classic, and they weren’t disappointed. Australia landed the first blow of the day by winning the toss and electing to bat.

David Boon top-scored for Australia in the final with 75.
David Boon top-scored for Australia in the final with 75.

Opener David Boon made sure Border’s decision was the right one, top scoring with 75 off 125 for Australia. He hit seven fours as he provided a fine backbone for the Aussies’ innings. He was ably supported by several of his teammates, who all got valuable scores without going on to pass the half-century mark.

Crucial knocks from Geoff Marsh (24), Dean Jones (33) and Border (31) helped Australia to their total of 253/5 from 50 overs, but it was the firepower of Mike Veletta late on in the innings which helped the Aussies surge beyond 250. Veletta hit six fours in an innings of 45 not out from just 31 balls as Australia added 65 runs from the final six overs of their innings.

Geoff Marsh, Steve Waugh and Allan Border celebrate Australia’s final win.
Geoff Marsh, Steve Waugh and Allan Border celebrate Australia’s final win.

England’s reply got off to a bad start when opener Tim Robinson was dismissed for a golden duck. However, the ship was steadied by Graham Gooch and Bill Athey, who scored 35 and 58 respectively. Mike Gatting (41) and Allan Lamb (45) added solid scores, until Gatting was famously dismissed trying to reverse sweep part-time bowler Border.

Wickets began to tumble, with Paul Downton (9) and John Emburey (10) failing to put their mark on the game, before Lamb’s valiant innings came to an end leaving England on 220/7. Their required run rate began to rise and England needed 17 off the final over. They fell just seven runs short of Australia’s total and Border became the first captain to lift the trophy for Australia and was eventually followed by Steve Waugh, two-time winner Ricky Ponting and Michael Clarke.

Australia 253/5 (50 overs)
Boon (75), Veletta (45*), Jones (33), Hemmings (2/48)

England 246/8 (50 overs)
Athey (58), Lamb (45), Gatting (41), Waugh (2/37), Border (2/38)

Australia won by seven runs

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