Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Remember the era of great All-Rounders?

I had to write this, as looking this up on the internet found next to nothing. Nothing! There were thousands of people there, and I was one of them, back in September 1985 who gathered in Arundel to see the world's best Cricket all-rounders compete in the Silk Cut Challenge to see who was best all-rounder in the world at the time.

This was the second such event like this. The previous one took place in Taunton in 1984, where I lived with my parents at the time. For some reason we ended up seeing the one hours away from us in Arundel. I know, it makes no sense. If we'd have waited a few more years we could have just seen this in Hong Kong, where the event eventually moved to.

This one took place on Friday 20th and Saturday 21st September 1985, and I was there on the Saturday with my parents. My parents wouldn't have me missing school for anything.

So who was in this?
Only the cream of the crop of a class of All-Rounders. Ian Botham, Kapil Dev, Richard Hadlee, Viv Richards and (with supporters who annoyed everyone else), Imran Khan.

Khan's supporters annoyed everyone?
Oh yes, running on the pitch, being noisy and generally acting in ways that weren't seen as gentlemanly. For some reason they wound me up, to the point that eighteen months later I gleefully remember Philip DeFreitas hoisting the smug Oxford graduate into a stand full of his supporters at Edgbaston. And I still remember that moment, nearly 24 years later. Joyous.

No Australians?
Australia were represented by Simon O'Donnell. Not exactly a great era for Australian cricket this. However I do remember one O'Donnell six ending up in the beer tent over my left shoulder with a resounding smash.

So who won?
The possibly least likely candidate, South African Clive Rice. He won the year before too, so it was hardly a fluke.

How did he win?
This is what is hazy, because for the life of me I can't find my programme, so I can't verify the rules. I think the basic gist of it was that each player bowled two overs to each batsman. Therefore each batsman got either fourteen or sixteen overs to bat (sorry, can't remember the full entry list either).

I do remember that when Rice batted last it was likely that he had to score well and not get out to win. I don't remember the exact formula of this but basically runs and wickets were good, dismissals while batting were not.

Anything else of note?
This was around the time that Botham and Richards were being represented by Tim Hudson, and wore a striped black/green/yellow/red wristband to signify this. For some reason my parents were sure that something had happened between Hudson and the pair this weekend, as Botham and Richards were somewhat edgey while signing autographs during a break at the event. I don't know if Botham and Richards were any different from their usual persona (Botham's autobiography, "Don't Tell Kath", doesn't appear to mention anything taking place at Arundel), but Richards wasn't keen on people standing behind him, ushering kids to the side of him as he expressly didn't like "people standing behind me". (Personally, knowing this would have made me bowl more spinners to him. It probably would have been futile, but who knows?)

So you were a stalky kid? Get any other autographs?
Robin Smith was a fielder that day, and I got his autograph. The fielders had numbers on their shirts, which I certainly don't remember seeing before that point.

Anyone else acting up?
It's the only time I heard Dickie Bird in person, and he didn't strike me as being particularly friendly either. I guess he had business to attend to though when walking through a crowd.

Any other observations?
That Cricket ground in Arundel is beautiful. One of the most scenic sporting venues I have ever been to.

Would this event be worth resurrecting?
I'd say so. If every form of Twenty20 can be foisted on Cricket fans then why not? The all-rounder pool might be even more shallow now, but I'd suspect it would be just as fun as this event was.

Any other reasons for remembering the event?
Yes, but that's for another time...