A rampant Courtney Walsh in World Cup 1999 © Getty Images
A rampant Courtney Walsh in World Cup 1999 © Getty Images

West Indies beat Scotland at Grace Road on May 27, 1999. Abhishek Mukherjee looks at the morning when the Calypso Kings turned out to be a class apart from the minnows.

Three hours was all it took for the crowd to rush on to Grace Road for the customary post-match siege. West Indies had wrapped up the match by then. Scotland had batted out all fifty overs against Australia (scoring 181 for 7) at New Road, reached 167 against Pakistan at Chester-le-Street, and put up a fight before a 22-run defeat against Bangladesh in their home match at Edinburgh.

West Indies, on the other hand, had mixed results; they had lost by 27 runs against Pakistan at Bristol; were easily beaten Bangladesh at Dublin; and most importantly, Mervyn Dillon and Ridley Jacobs scripted a crucial win over New Zealand (who had beaten Australia) at Southampton; a win with a good net run rate would help them reach the Super Sixes.

Pace and pace

Scotland started the day with a blunder when George Salmond opted to bat against Curtly Ambrose, Courtney Walsh, Reon King, and Hendy Bryan on a green surface. “I thought if we got a few on the board, we could give them a game,” Salmond later confessed.

The error became evident in the first over: the last ball took off from a good length; Mike Smith had no chance to reach it, and the ball thudded into the big gloves of Jacobs. Surprisingly, Brian Lara opened with Phil Simmons at the other end. Simmons bowled accurately to back up Ambrose’s thunderbolts at the other end. Scotland managed a solitary run off Ambrose’s first 3 overs — off a wide. Then Simmons found Smith’s edge, and Jacobs did the rest.

Mike Allingham and Ian Stanger hung around, but were unable to get things going. Scotland crawled to 18 for 1 after 14 overs (Ambrose’s figures read 7-4-3-0 at this stage), and two balls later, he induced an edge to send Allingham back. Lara replaced Simmons with Walsh; four balls later Stanger walked back, caught-behind. Ambrose removed Salmond three balls later; Jacobs had four catches out of four at this stage.

Gavin Hamilton showed some resistance, seeing off Ambrose’s lethal spell (bowling unchanged, he finished with 10-4-8-2). Bryan replaced Ambrose, and almost immediately removed Greig Williamson, caught by Stuart Williams at first slip. At the other end, Walsh had James Brinkley caught by Simmons at second slip, and two balls later, jagged a ball in to have Alec Davies leg-before. The score read a sorry 29 for 7 after 22 overs.

Three balls later Bryan strayed, and Hamilton leg-glanced him for Scotland’s first boundary. It had taken them 127 balls. He flicked Bryan for another, and soon afterwards Scotland went past Canada’s ignominious record for the lowest World Cup score (45). Three balls later John Blain was trapped leg-before by Bryan.

Lara gave Walsh a rest after figures of 7-1-7-3, and Asim Butt welcome King with a mammoth straight six. Hamilton edged one for four next over, but King wrapped things up, having Butt and Nick Dyer caught at first slip by Williams in the space of three balls. Scotland collapsed to 68 in 31.3 overs.

Breakneck chase

The stage was set for West Indies to make a massive improvement in their run rate. Simmons and Shivnarine Chanderpaul went after Blain and Butt before Simmons holed out off Blain to Stanger at deep mid-wicket. Williams fell for a golden duck (leg-before off Blain), but Chanderpaul made up for the double-blow, pulling and cover-driving Blain for two fours in the same over.

Chanderpaul lofted Butt over mid-on for four more, and when Lara’s turn came, a mistimed a pull off Blain — which still reached the fence. Salmond replaced Butt with Hamilton after West Indies had reached 48 off nine overs: there was a wide, Lara played a ball to the bowler, and decided to cut loose.

He took a wild swing at the next ball and missed completely. The next ball was creamed through extra-cover for four. The fourth ball was pulled flat-batted over mid-on. The next was lofted over mid-off for a couple. And the last ball soared over long-on for six, making it 17 from the over.

With four to score, Blain sent down a wide, and Chanderpaul lofted the next ball over extra-cover to pull off a huge win. It was the shortest World Cup match of the time (the match between England and Canada in 1979 at Old Trafford had lasted 326 balls). With three consecutive wins and a huge run rate boost, West Indies moved a notch closer to the Super Sixes.

Shortest World Cup matches (till 2011):

Balls Team 1 Score Balls Team 2 Score Balls Venue Year
140 Canada 36 112 Sri Lanka 37 28 Paarl 2003
187 Bangladesh 58 113 West Indies 59 74 Mirpur 2011
191 Kenya 69 143 New Zealand 72 48 Chepauk 2011
226 Ireland 77 166 Sri Lanka 81 60 Grenada 2007
248 Scotland 68 187 West Indies 70 61 Grace Road 1999

What followed?

– Scotland crashed out of the World Cup, losing all 5 matches. They did make it to World Cups 2003, 2007, 2011, and 2015.

– West Indies were eliminated after losing their last match to Australia at Old Trafford. They did not go to Super Sixes in 2003 either, but made it to the Super Eights in 2007; they made it to the quarterfinal in 2011.

Brief scores:

Scotland 68 in 31.3 overs (Courtney Walsh 3 for 7) lost to West Indies 70 for 2 in 10.1 overs by 8 wickets with 239 balls to spare.

Man of the Match: Courtney Walsh.

(Abhishek Mukherjee is the Chief Editor and Cricket Historian at CricketCountry. He blogs here and can be followed on Twitter here.)