Gary Troup. Photo courtesy: H Natarajan.
Gary Troup. Photo courtesy: H Natarajan.

Born October 3, 1952, Gary Troup was a left-handed fast bowler from New Zealand who played a key role in his country’s memorable series win over the West Indies, their first ever series victory at home, in 1979-80. Prakash Govindasreenivasan has more.

Gary Troup was a left-handed opening bowler for New Zealand who shared the new ball with Richard Hadlee in the late 1970s and early 1980s, and brought a great variation to the team’s bowling attack. Hadlee was like an unstoppable force: quick, fast and agile, relying entirely on his ability to bowl as quickly as he can. Troup meanwhile, was consistency-reliant. The southpaw was not too perturbed by the lack of genuine pace in his bowling as long as he could bowl it in the right areas day in and day out.

While this quality did give New Zealand versatility in their pace bowling, Troup soon fell down the pecking order when more and more fast bowlers arrived in the late 80s who could bring both speed and accuracy to the table.

Debuts

Troup’s ODI debut came against Pakistan in Sialkot during New Zealand’s tour in 1976. Troup’s first taste of international cricket came in a game that went down to the final delivery bowled and run scored as the visitors eked out a 1-run victory after they posted 198 for eight in the 35-overs-a-side match.

Troup showed early signs of accuracy and consistency as he finished with figures of 1 for 29 from 7 overs with the wicket of skipper Mushtaq Mohammad. Troup’s breakthrough ended a 50-run stand for the fourth wicket between Mushtaq and Javed Miandad.

Troup’s Test debut came against Pakistan’s neighbours India in the following month. He featured in the second Test of the three-match Test series played in Kanpur and finished with the solitary wicket of Ashok Mankad in the drawn game.

West Indies tour of New Zealand 1979-80

Troup would have always fancied himself to star for the Kiwis with the ball, until the dying moments of the first Test of the three-match home series against the mighty West Indies in 1979-80 at Dunedin arrived. The West Indian batsmen clearly failed to adjust to the conditions in New Zealand and were skittled out for 140 in the first essay. The hosts took a massive lead before bowling the West Indies out the second time for 212 and gave themselves a chance to draw first blood by chasing down 104.

The West Indian bowlers suddenly sprang to life and the wickets began to tumble.  At 73 for 8 following the departure of Richard Hadlee, the home crowd had probably given in to the possibility of seeing West Indies walk away with a win from an unlikely situation. Troup, who had taken 5 wickets across both innings, was in the middle and was needed to just dig out and crawl to the remainder of the target. He found an ally in Lance Cairns, with whom he added 27 valuable runs. From 73 for 8, New Zealand crawled to 95 for 8 at tea.

In the post-tea session, a delivery from Holding struck the off-stump but to his horror it did not dislodge the bails. Cairns got away with that one but was soon dismissed after being forced to edge a delivery to wicketkeeper Deryck Murray.

At 100 for nine, West Indies needed just one wicket for a win while New Zealand’s ask of just four more runs seemed herculean. New man Stephen Boock negotiated 5 deliveries from Holding and the duo of Boock and Troup finished the game in the following over, not without a few more anxious moments. It was a tremendous victory for the hosts, giving them a chance to win a home series for the first time in their history.

The second Test at Christchurch belonged to the batsmen as 5 centuries across both teams gave rise to a draw and provided New Zealand an unassailable lead of 1-0. Troup had very little to do and finished with 3 wickets. His impact in the third Test, however, was much more important. Finishing with his career-best match figures of 10 for 166, Troup entered record books to become only the third New Zealand bowler to take 10 wickets in Test after Jack Cowie and Richard Hadlee.

Troup dismissed the dangerous Clive Lloyd and Alvin Kalicharan before winding up the West Indian innings at 220 with the wicket of Colin Croft. In reply, the hosts took an 85-run first-innings lead. In the second innings, Troup got the vital breakthrough to dismiss Desmond Haynes who, along with his opening partner Gordon Greenidge was looking set to add a big partnership.

He then went on to dismantle the middle-order to finish with 6 for 95 in the second innings. The Test ended in a draw, giving New Zealand their first ever series victory at home. Troup had played a key role in Kiwis’ success, finishing with 18 wickets in the series and the fact that he had stuck it out in the middle with the bat at the most crucial phase of the series.

Best performances in ODIs

Troup’s best performance in ODIs came in Australia and New Zealand. In the seventh match of the Benson & Hedges World Series cup in 1980-81 involving India, New Zealand and Australia, Troup finished with his career-best figures of 4 for 19 against India in Brisbane to pave the way for a victory.  After dismissing Sunil Gavaskar early on, Troup came back to run through the tail and help the hosts bowl out India for just 204. New Zealand stuttered in their chase but finished victorious with 3 wickets in hand and 2 balls to spare.

A couple of years later in 1982, Troup registered another four-wicket haul, at Auckland against Australia in the first of the three-match ODI series. After New Zealand managed to post 240, skipper Greg Chappell and No. 3 John Dyson were leading the way in the run-chase. They added 88 runs for the third wicket before Troup dismissed Dyson. Chappell continued and scored a century and kept his team’s hopes alive till the end, before Troup got the better of him as well to help his side to a 46-run win. Troup’s bowling figures at the end of the game were 4 for 44.

In his nine-year long international career, Troup featured in 15 Tests and picked up 39 wickets. In ODIs, Troup has 32 wickets from 22 games to his name.

(Prakash Govindasreenivasan is a reporter with CricketCountry. His Twitter handle is @PrakashG_89)