Mike Hendricks
Mike Hendricks (Getty Images)

In the build-up to the 2019 ICC Cricket World Cup, CricketCountry brings to you the most memorable moments and matches from the Cricket World Cup – right from its first edition, way back in 1975. With 96 days to go, in our latest World Cup Countdown, we recall how Mike Hendrick bowled England to a thrilling win vs Pakistan at Headingley.

Both England and Pakistan had already qualified for the 1979 World Cup semifinal, but their clash still had a purpose: the winner of the contest at Headingley would manage to avoid defending champions West Indies. The conditions were overcast (“a breezy, cloudy morning,” wrote Wisden), which made Pakistan captain Asif Iqbal go in with five seamers — Imran Khan, Sikander, Mudassar Nazar, Majid, and himself.

Mike Brearley, on the other hand, picked four — Bob Willis, Ian Botham, Chris Old, and Mike Hendrick — to go with the part-time military-medium of Graham Gooch and Geoffrey Boycott. Oh, and he also picked a spinner in Phil Edmonds.

Asif started with Imran, and disaster struck with the second ball as Brearley nicked one to Wasim Bari. Sikander rose to the task, finding the edge of Derek Randall, reducing England to 4 for 2. The onus was on Boycott and Gooch — probably the most equipped batsmen in terms of technique — to see off the new ball.

They did in fact see off the new ball, and added 47 in 79 minutes. Asif shuffled his bowlers well, and eventually Majid brought Boycott’s resilience to an end. Gooch did not last long either. The dour combination gave way to the flamboyant pair of David Gower and Botham. A few runs were plundered, but none of them made it big. Majid switched to off-breaks to remove both men, and with Asif striking with two wickets in quick succession, England were reduced to 118 for 8.

This brought Bob Willis to the crease to join Bob Taylor who held fort, adding crucial runs. They crossed 125, then 150, and it was not until 161 that Sikander ran through Willis’ defence. Hendrick managed to get off strike, and England finished on 165 for 9.

It was certainly a below-par score, despite the conditions. Though six English batsmen went past 15, only Gooch (33) managed to make it to the 30s. As for the five seamers, all of them bowled their quota of 12 overs, and everybody conceded between 24 and 37 runs.

It was a tough ask. The lowest successfully defended score in a World Cup till then was 266 (albeit by England). Willis and Hendrick started things for England, but Majid and Sadiq Mohammad looked comfortable, adding 27 in 29 minutes. Pakistan seemed to be cruising to victory — when Hendrick struck.

Hendrick had been bowling beautifully with an impeccable line and length, swinging the ball both ways with abundance. He finally broke through, having Majid caught by Botham. Two balls later a ball swung in, trapping Mudassar leg-before. There was a struggle for Zaheer Abbas, but Hendrick hit timber meanwhile, dismissing the set Sadiq.

Brearley had meanwhile replaced Willis with Botham, who removed Zaheer and Miandad in quick succession. Soon afterwards Haroon Rasheed was caught in the slip by Brearley. Pakistan, having lost 6 wickets for 7, were on a hopeless 34 for 6; Hendrick, with some support from Botham and Willis, had left them in tatters.

Pakistan had a long batting line-up with Wasim Raja at 7 and Imran at 8. Raja decided to counterattack, racing to a 25-ball 21 with four boundaries before Old hit his pads. The partnership had set the tone somewhat, and with Imran digging in, Asif saw a chance.

This was when Brearley rose to the task. He handled his four seamers efficiently, placing fielders in the right areas, cutting down the singles. Eventually, just when the seamers approached the ends of their quotas, Asif edged one to Brearley off Willis. He had scored 51.

It was Bari’s turn now to frustrate the bowlers. The tension mounted as Imran and Bari took Pakistan close to victory, adding 30 in 37 minutes. Brearley had another masterstroke this time, bringing Boycott back. Almost immediately he had Bari caught behind.

Sensing blood, Brearley tightened the noose around Imran and Sikander.

Sikander eventually holed out to Hendrick off Boycott, Pakistan were left 14 short of England’s score. Imran was left stranded on an 82-ball 21. As for the Man of the Match, Brian Close did not have to think: it had to be Hendrick.

Brief scores: England 165 for 9 in 60 overs (Graham Gooch 33; Majid Khan 3 for 27, Sikander Bakht 3 for 32) beat Pakistan 151 in 56 overs (Asif Iqbal 51; Mike Hendrick 4 for 15) by 14 runs.