Sporting Bygones: How Gilmour’s greatest performance of his international career put Australia on top of the world against England at Headingley

OF the 35 one-day internationals played at Headingley, it may surprise you to learn that 12 have come in the World Cup.

The Leeds venue staged three games in each of the 1975, 1979, 1983 and 1999 tournaments, providing a feast of entertainment for Yorkshire sports fans.

The most high-profile of these was in 1975 – the competition’s inaugural year.

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Headingley was given the honour of staging the semi-final between England and Australia, which Australia won by four wickets.

It was a game made famous by Gary Gilmour, the Australia left-arm swing bowler.

Gilmour returned extraordinary figures of 12-6-14-6 as England were dismissed for 93 in 36.2 overs.

Gilmour then top-scored with an unbeaten 28 to lift Australia – at one stage 39-6 – to a memorable win.

Batting at No 8, he scythed five fours in a run-a-ball innings and shared an undefeated stand of 55 with Doug Walters.

The match – 60 overs per side – lasted just 65 overs in total as the Headingley pitch was widely condemned.

Green, damp and precarious for batting, it saw just five players in the game reach double figures.

However, as Wisden reported, “there was no feeling of being cheated by anyone in the capacity crowd.”

The almanack went on: “There was tremendous excitement, especially when Australia, in search of 94 runs needed to win, lost six wickets for 39 runs. Gasps, groans, or cheers, followed every ball.”

Bowling a full length, Gilmour swung the ball in the heavy atmosphere and moved it both ways after pitching.

He captured the first six wickets to fall as Dennis Amiss, Keith Fletcher, Frank Hayes and Alan Knott were lbw to deliveries that nipped back, Barry Wood was bowled by a perfect yorker and Tony Greig was well-caught one-handed by Marsh.

Gilmour bowled all his overs in one spell in the greatest performance of his international career.

Although he captured 5-48 in the final at Lord’s, which the West Indies won by 17 runs, Gilmour played only five one-day internationals (16 wickets at 10.31) to go with 15 Test appearances (54 wickets at 26.03).

Despite England’s defeat at Headingley, it was not all doom and gloom for the local spectators.

Yorkshire pace bowler Chris Old returned England’s best figures of 3-29 from seven overs to cap an impressive all-round tournament.

Old was England’s leading wicket-taker in the competition with seven at 12.28.

He also displayed his batting prowess with an unbeaten 51 in a whopping 202-run win over India at Lord’s.

The first World Cup match at Headingley in 1975 was between Australia and Pakistan.

Australia won by 73 runs in front of 22,000, the gates at Headingley being closed for the first time since 1966.

Australia fast bowler Dennis Lillee was man of the match with 5-34 as Pakistan, chasing 279, were dismissed for 205.

But it was not the happiest of games for Lillee’s pace partner Jeff Thomson, who was so out-of-sorts his eight overs contained 12 no-balls.

The other fixture at Leeds in the 1975 tournament was between India and rank outsiders East Africa, which attracted just 720 paying spectators as India eased to a 10-wicket win.

At the next World Cup in 1979, Headingley staged eight-wicket wins as Pakistan and New Zealand defeated Canada and India, respectively, as well as a humdinger between England and Pakistan.

England’s victory over Pakistan was achieved in a low-scoring contest in which bowlers dominated.

In a clear sign of how different one-day cricket was in those days, when scoring rates were nothing like today, England batted first and scored 165-9 from 60 overs.

Geoffrey Boycott batted almost 90 minutes for 18 as England progressed at just 2.75 runs per over.

Pakistan’s chase was scuppered by Mike Hendrick, who produced a deadly spell of 4-3 in eight balls to help reduce them to 34-6 before Pakistan fought gamely to 151 all-out in 56 overs, Hendrick taking the winning catch – a breathtaking, leaping effort at mid-off to dismiss Sikander Bakht off Boycott, who claimed 2-14.

England also enjoyed their visit to Headingley in the 1983 tournament.

They thrashed Sri Lanka by nine wickets in the shortest game of that year’s competition, Graeme Fowler leading the way with an unbeaten 81.

In the other World Cup fixtures at Headingley in 1983, West Indies hammered Australia by 101 runs and Pakistan defeated Sri Lanka by 11 runs.

The West Indies-Australia game was notable for a terrible injury suffered by Graeme Wood, who was struck on the side of the head by a ball from Michael Holding that lifted sharply from an unpredictable surface.

In the 1999 tournament, Inzamam-ul-Haq was Pakistan’s hero as they beat Australia by 10 runs in a thrilling group encounter.

The other group game at Headingley was a damp squib. No result was possible between New Zealand and Zimbabwe in the tournament’s only washout.

At least the Super Six contest between Australia and South Africa was a riveting spectacle, Australia winning by five runs with two balls remaining.

South Africa made 271-7 from 50 overs, Herschelle Gibbs top-scoring with 101.

When Australia replied, Steve Waugh – on 56 – was, in Wisden’s words, “unfathomably dropped by a prematurely celebrating Gibbs at mid-wicket”.

The almanack went on: “Waugh reportedly told him: ‘Hersh, you’ve just dropped the World Cup’.”

Waugh proceeded to an unbeaten 120 and, sure enough, Australia won the trophy.