September 4 is significant in the history of cricket for a couple of important occurrences. Here’s a look.
The Oval Test of 1979: September 4, 1979 was the last day of the fourth and final Test between India and England. India were chasing a target of 438 to win in the last innings. Although they began the day at 76 for no loss, an England victory seemed the most likely possibility. However, the hosts might not have taken into consideration that India would run them really close. What transpired on the final day at The Oval is not stuff of legend.
Sunil Gavaskar and Chetan Chauhan added 213 for the opening wicket, before the latter was dismissed by Bob Willis for 80. Gavaskar then continued the good work in the company of Dilip Vengsarkar, adding another hundred run stand. They took the score to 366 when Vengsarkar fell just after completing his fifty. While the promoted Kapil Dev was dismissed for a duck, Gavaskar carried on to complete a well-deserved double hundred. He was eventually dismissed for a memorable 221. At 398 for 4, victory was within India’s sight. But, a middle order collapse, and a run out set India back, and India eventually settled for a draw. England won the four-match series 1-0.
Birth of the destructive Lance Klusener: September 4 marks the birth of the one of the most renowned all-rounders of the modern era, Lance Klusener. Zulu, as he is famously known, is most remembered for his exploits in the 1999 World Cup when almost single-handedly took South Africa to the final. That moment when a mix-up with Allan Donald saw the latter run-out remains a painful moment in South African cricket. But, nothing can take away from the efforts of Zulu, who finished the tournament with an average of 140, being dismissed only twice. With the ball, he also claimed a five-for against Kenya.
Three years before his World Cup exploits, Klusener burst onto the Test scene with figures of 8 for 64 at Kolkata. They were to remain his best figures in Tests. He also got a hundred against India at Newlands in his debut season. However, injury forced Klusener to cut down on his pace, which reduced his efficiency at the Test level. In all, he played 49 matches and scored 1906 runs at an average of 32.86 with 4 hundreds and 8 fifties. With the ball, he picked up 80 wickets with one five-wicket haul and two four-wicket hauls, at an average of 37.91, which slipped as his bowling went down the hill.
In ODIs though, he remained a destructive force. In all he played 171 ODIs, scoring 3576 runs at an average of 41.10 with two hundreds and 19 fifties. With the ball he claimed 192 wickets averaging 29.95, with six five-wicket hauls. Had the South African think-tank shown better faith in him, he would have ended up with even better numbers.
--By A Cricket Analyst