Category: Cricket

A pair of paradoxes at Port of Spain : Haynes, Greenidge, Richards, and a bit of black magic?

A pair of paradoxes at Port of Spain : Haynes, Greenidge, Richards, and a bit of black magic?

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Cricket, they say, is a game of statistics and anecdotes. Sometimes though, these two come together and create a paradox. One such instance was the second test at Port of Spain (March 11-16, 1983) played between a superpowered West Indies led by Clive Lloyd, and a soon-to-be-world-champions India led by Kapil Dev.

India’s tour began disastrously. In the first test at Kingston (Feb 23-28), Gavaskar scored 20 and 0, Andy Roberts took a total of 9 wickets, and India slumped to a 4-wicket defeat. The next match on the itinerary was an ODI at Port of Spain (Mar 9). Gordon Greenidge and Desmond Haynes, possibly the greatest opening pair ever (modulo stats, which I don’t have at the moment), put on 125 for the first wicket, at a joint strike rate of nearly 90. The match was reduced to 38.5 overs, and West Indies cruised to 215/4, with Haynes falling on 97 to the Indian captain. India was set a target of 216 from 39. They managed two scores of 13 (Kirmani and Madan Lal), one 21 (Malhotra), one 22 (Gaekwad), one 25 (Gavaskar), and two 27s (Amarnath and Vengsarkar), finally ending up with 163 from their allotted quota.

The second test match started two days later at the same venue. West Indies were, I would imagine, upbeat. India were, I would also imagine, not so.

Lloyd won the toss and put the visitors in. Disaster struck early, with Anshuman Gaekwad run out with the team score on 1. Then, a few balls later, Holding removed Gavaskar. The Little Master had scored 1 run off 10 balls (India folded up for 175). The crowd loved it. Well, most of them did.

Legend has it that one Indian fan did not quite see eye-to-eye with all this cheering. Quoting Abhishek Mukherjee (source:cricketcountry)

…The West Indian fans cheered heartily when Sunil Gavaskar fell for 1 at Port-of-Spain. This did not go down well with one of the Indian fans. He immediately placed a bet that Gordon Greenidge and Desmond Haynes would score less than that between them…

The bet was a courageous one. Removing both openers for ducks was a rare event (21 times till 11/03/1983 : source), and had never before happened with H&G. Removing openers of the calibre of H&G and adding a 22nd row to that table seemed impossible. Balwinder Singh Sandhu disagreed. Thunderstruck, the spectators looked on as thunder struck twice, and then again. Back to Abhishek :

Balwinder Sandhu…to the horror of the locals, had Haynes caught behind and Greenidge leg-before — both for ducks.

No, the better did not get to collect. For, as Abhishek recounts,

…The elated Indian looked around, but the vanquished was nowhere to be found.

As Abhishek himself points out, the authenticity of this anecdote is suspect. However, the cricketing incident itself was very much true. And rare, too. Which would prompt one to head over to cricinfo and pore over the statistics of that game.

Here is a quick summary of the start of the WI innings (source:cricinfo). I’ll pose the paradox right afterwards.

  1. Haynes and Greenidge walk out to bat. Haynes parks himself at the nonstrikers’, Greenidge takes strike, Kapil Dev takes the red cherry. Greenidge plays out a maiden.
  2. Sandhu comes on from the other end. Haynes faces him, and also plays out a maiden.
  3. This is rinsed and repeated at most once more.1
  4. In the 4th (or the 6th) over, Haynes is caught behind by Kirmani. Sandhu is the bowler. The team score is 0/1. Viv Richards walks in and, if required, plays out the rest of Sandhu’s over.

At this point, Haynes is out, Richards is facing Sandhu, and Greenidge is facing Kapil. No runs have been scored. Then Greenidge falls, bowled by Sandhu! Score : 0/2.

Houston, we have a problem. Assuming that cricinfo did not mess up, how in tarnation did Sandhu manage to bowl to, and bowl, Greenidge, when clearly Richards was facing him? Umpiring error? Scorecard error? Black magic? Or…

Paradox?

No, not quite, unfortunately.

I took this headscratcher to Abhishek, who, after a bit of thought, came up with a viable answer. I’d ask you, Reader, to think this through for a moment, and try and come up with a possible solution before you proceed further.

Abhishek Mukherjee’s solution :

The entire confusion lies in the way Haynes was dismissed. For Greenidge to have been bowled by Sandhu, but with zero runs scored, the only possibility is that Haynes and Greenidge crossed over when Haynes was caught behind. Which would only have been possible if Haynes had hit the ball high in the air (possibly from a mishit hook?), and by the time Kirmani had gloved the skier, the batters had crossed. That would put Greenidge in front of Sandhu. Which seems all right.

Except it isn’t.

You see, when Haynes was dismissed, Richards had walked in. Our earlier scenario involved Richards facing Sandhu. Our current scenario involves Richards facing Kapil. The scorecard further reads

IVA Richards   c †Kirmani b Kapil Dev   1 (run)

At this juncture, the team score is 1/3. That means Richards must have taken a single to get himself and his team off the mark. That single, by the current scenario, would have to be off Kapil. Which would have Larry Gomes facing Kapil, not Richards. And Gomes could not have taken a run, since Richards fell with the team total on 1. Gomes could not have crossed over, since he went on to score 123 off 333 balls in 446 mins.

Paradox?

Again, not quite.

The simple solution to this, once again suggested by Abhishek Mukherjee (source:private communication), is that Kapil had Venkat, the first change bowler, turn his arm over from Kapil’s end, enabling Kapil to change ends and bowl to Richards. Which makes little sense, given that the pacers were doing a fine job with the fresh cherry. Quite possibly, tea was upon them, and an over of spin just before tea made sense to Kapil.

Whichever it was, the situation was quite remarkable. And rather rare. Since the test at Queen’s Park Oval, in a further 35 years, there have been a further 30 instances of openers both getting out on ducks. If this sudden spike in frequency sends a message, I am not privy to it.

The innings was rescued from its doldrummic lows of 1/3 by Gomes and captain Clive Lloyd, who scored 143 in 310 mins. WI went on to score 394, a daunting lead of 219. In the second innings, the Indians batted better, with Amarnath scoring a 345-minute 117, and Kapil a 100 off 95 balls. The match was drawn with India on 469/7, an unused lead of 250.

References

Cricket Country article recounting the incident, by Abhishek Mukherjee : http://www.cricketcountry.com/articles/fred-huish-wins-the-daddy-of-all-cricket-bets-as-dick-pougher-takes-5-for-0-684990

Cricinfo stats : http://www.espncricinfo.com/series/16960/scorecard/63336/west-indies-vs-india-2nd-test

Number of times both openers have been dismissed on ducks : http://www.howstat.com/cricket/Statistics/Matches/MatchOpenersDuckBoth.asp

Header image : Gordon Greenidge bowled by Balwinder Sandhu in the 1983 World Cup final. Greenidge shouldered arms to what turned out to be an incoming delivery, and was bowled in a manner similar to the Port of Spain test2 Source:cricketcountry.