When Phil Simmons bowled one-day cricket's most economical spell to outsmart Pakistan at Sydney

Phil Simmons © Getty Images

On December 17, 1992, Pakistan were bamboozled by one of the most remarkable spells by the West Indian all-rounder Phil Simmons. Sydney Cricket Ground played host to the most economical spell in One-Day International (ODI) history as West Indies comprehensively trumped Pakistan in a Benson and Hedges World Series encounter. Simmons was more known for his hard hitting batting, but on the day his bowling stole the limelight and helped his side defend a smallish total.

It was the eight-game of the series and the contest was heating up as the teams were eying a berth in the finals. West Indies captain Richie Richardson won the toss and elected to bat first against a formidable Pakistan pace attack that boasted of the likes of Wasim Akram and Waqar Younis. The might of the Pakistan bowlers was evident as they kept pegging the West Indian innings.

Desmond Haynes held the West Indian innings together even as they kept losing wickets at regular intervals. Richardson was the only one who gave him some support with a knock of 33. Haynes was bowled by Akram four short of a deserving century. Waqar was the wrecker in chief as his figures of three for 29 in 10 overs limited West Indies to 214.

With Pakistan chasing 215 for victory, many would have expected a Curtly Ambrose or a Patrick Patterson to do the damage. However, it was Simmons who had a field day. When compared to the burly figures of Ambrose and Patterson, Simmons was smaller, but his wily medium pace was enough to trouble Pakistan.
Patterson opened the flood gates for West Indies by dismissing Rameez Raja. Then followed the Simmons burst as he snared the next four wickets in the space of 10 runs. Asif Mujtaba dragged a shortish delivery on to his woodowork and Aamer Sohail skied an edge to mid-off. Salim Malik was caught by surprise as he couldn’t keep a rising delivery down. It went from bad to worse for Pakistan as their captain Javed Miandad edged an away-swinging delivery to the keeper to make it 14 for five.

With such early losses, Pakistan could never recover and it was a matter of time. Their batsmen only delayed the inevitable – so much so that Rashid Latif scored a painstaking eight from 72 balls. Pakistan were finally bundled out for 81 in 48 overs. Such was the early devastation that Pakistan were snail paced in their run-chase thereafter.

Simmons was awarded the man-of-the-match for his figures of 10-8-3-4 – which remain the most economical figures in ODIs. He beat Dermot Reeve’s analysis of 5-3-2-1 which also came against Pakistan in March 1992. Only Ambrose has come close to replicating that in the years that followed when he bowled a miserly spell of 10-5-5-1 against Sri Lanka in 1999.

Even after twenty years, Simmons benchmark remains unbeaten and it would take some getting given the fact that the modern game favours the batsmen.

(Nishad Pai Vaidya is a Correspondent with CricketCountry and an analyst, anchor and voice-over artist for the site’s YouTube Channel. He shot to fame by spotting a wrong replay during IPL4 which resulted in Sachin Tendulkar’s dismissal. His insights on the game have come in for high praise from cerebral former cricketers. He has also participated on live TV talk-shows on cricket. Nishad can be followed on Twitter at http://twitter.com/nishad_44)