Gary Gilmour’s 6 for 14, match-winning innings took Australia into World Cup 1975 final
Image courtesy: OLD CRICKET PHOTOS (Twitter)

When the first One-Day International (ODI) World Cup was played in 1975, ODI cricket was still in its nascent stage. Only once a bowler had taken a fifer till then, and going beyond this feat in an innings was unfathomable. But it changed on this very day, exactly 41 years back, when a little-heard-of bowler from Australia stormed his way into the record books and helped his side make it to the final. Gary Gilmour was playing only his third career ODI and later played only two more, but he chose the most opportune of occasions to announce himself to the world when he dominated the World Cup 1975 semi-final against England both with the bat as well as ball. Also Read: 10 interesting facts about the Gary Gilmour

Australian skipper Ian Chappell won the toss and chose to bowl first on a pitch where barely 10 days back his side posted 278 batting first against a decent Pakistan bowling attack. However, his decision, which was influenced by overcast conditions, grass on the pitch and breeze, was vindicated by his new-ball bowlers Dennis Lillee, Gilmour and Max Walker as they bowled out England for a paltry 93 by sharing 10 wickets amongst them. Six of those were taken by Gilmour, who was playing his first game of the tournament and added variety to the Australian attack with his left-arm medium pace bowling. He had played just two games thus far in his career. But in a line-up that had Lillee and Jeff Thomson as strike bowlers, one could understand the lack of games for Gilmour.

gary gilmour

Nevertheless, this was his moment and he seized it. He ran in hard, bowled full and swung the ball either ways, making life difficult for the batsmen. Such was the impact of the doubt he created in batsmen’s mind that four of his six scalps were dismissed Leg Before Wicket (LBW), while one was cleaned up and the remaining one caught behind the wicket beautifully by Rod Marsh. He took six of the top seven English batsmen, which explains simply how good he was that day. Gilmour ended the match with figures of 12-6-14-6, thus becoming the first bowler in ODI history to take six wickets in a match. His spell was even rated by Wisden as the best-ever in ODI history. This was the story up to the half way mark and if you think Gilmour had played his part in the game, you are wrong. Also Read: 12 firsts in cricket World Cup history

Before the Australian team started its chase, its fans and even the cricket experts would have expected it to be a cakewalk. The presence of Chappell brothers and Doug Walters only confirmed this perception. However, the script that unfolded in the second half was in complete contrast of what was expected, as Australia were soon reduced to 6 for 39. Chris Old and John Snow did to Australia what Gilmour and Walker did to England, as the team from Down Under was in all sorts of trouble chasing a modest 94. With 55 runs more to win and four wickets remaining, Gilmour the batsman walked in.

He had never batted before in an ODI, but that did not matter. He carried the momentum from his bowling spell and translated it into an equally good batting effort as his run-a-ball 28 and an unbroken stand of 55 with Walters took his side into the final of first ever World Cup. It was an easy call, adjudging Gilmour the Man-of-the-Match. All of a sudden Australian team and its fans had found an unlikely hero, who rose to the occasion one more time — the World Cup Final — barely three days later. He took 5 for 48 against the mighty West Indies, followed by an 11-ball 14. But alas, his side ended up on the losing side. Gilmour finished the tournament with impressive figures of 11 for 62, but despite these superlative performances; he played just one more ODI for Australia. Though he did play 12 more Tests in his career after the final, but could never really cement his place in the side. Also Read: 12 instances in ODIs when a bowler took two consecutive five-wicket hauls

Brief scores:

England 93 in 36.2 overs (Mike Denness 27; Gary Gilmour 6 for 14, Max Walker 3 for 22) lost to Australia 94 for 6 in 28.4 overs (Gary Gilmour 28*, Doug Walters 20*; Chris Old 3 for 29) by 6 wickets.

(A self-confessed cricket freak, Chinmay Jawalekar is a senior writer with CricLife and CricketCountry. When not writing or following cricket, he loves to read, eat and sleep. He can be followed here @CricfreakTweets)