By Neto Baptiste
A decision by iconic former West Indies fast bowler Courtney Walsh, to not run out Pakistan batsman Saleem Jaffar after he had ventured out of his crease at the non-strikers end during the final over of the team’s 1987 World Cup league-stage game, cost the regional side the match. But Walsh said he has no regrets and would make the same decision if he was to relive the moment.
Speaking on the Good Morning Jojo Sports Show, Walsh said that although he knew the situation of the game and that a wicket at that moment would have put West Indies into the semis of the tournament, he could not, in good conscience, remove the bails without first warning the player.
“If I had ran him out without warning him, I don’t think I could have lived with it properly either. I know a few of my teammates were thinking I should have done it and gotten on with the game, especially after the results but long term they all came back and said to me ‘we are proud of what you did, it cost us but you showed good sportsmanship’ so it was a catch 22 [a dilemma or difficult circumstance from which there is no escape] but at the end of the day it was something I would have had to live with and if I had it to do all over again then I would warn him again,” he said.
It was the ninth match of the tournament and while Pakistan had won both their games thus far, West Indies had won one and lost the other. It was the halfway mark for both teams and the West Indies were desperate for a win. It is in this context that Walsh’s refusal to run Jaffar out with Pakistan needing two runs to win off the last ball is relevant.
The Jamaican said the decision was not a kneejerk reaction but rather something that has been a part of his upbringing in cricket.
“It wasn’t the first time it had ever happened to me playing cricket because I remember playing youth cricket and a team did it to us and I had the opportunity to do it back but I didn’t. I warned him and my manager at the time said I was a brilliant man and he agreed with me and supported me a lot and I said that is not the way I came up playing cricket. It happened in a school game when I could have done the same thing again and I didn’t, but obviously those games or tournaments didn’t have as much recognition as the World Cup,” Walsh said.
Pakistan needed 14 runs off the final over as they chased 216 posted by West Indies.
Abdul Qadir took a single off the first ball and Saleem Jaffar another off the second, leaving 12 to get off four. Qadir, who had done nothing of significance with the ball then turned it on, hitting a two and then launching a straight six that drew the crowd roaring to its feet. They ran another two off the next ball, leaving two to get off the last.
Walsh ran in to bowl the last ball and pulled up without delivering: Jaffar, at the non-striker’s end, was well out of his crease, heading up the wicket. Walsh could have run him out comfortably but chose not to do so and headed back to bowl the delivery again.
Qadir repaid the generosity by taking the necessary runs off the last ball.