Derek Pringle: The ‘we was robbed’ feeling has never gone away

DEREK PRINGLE: The ‘we was robbed’ feeling has never gone away 30 years on from England’s last World Cup Final meeting with Pakistan

  • Derek Pringle recalls England’s 50-over World Cup Final against Pakistan in 1992
  • Pakistan were victors that day but the win came with two major controversies 
  • The two meet again Sunday morning in the T20 World Cup Final in Melbourne  

England’s return to the Melbourne Cricket Ground to play Pakistan in a World Cup final, in T20 this time, will offer older generations of players and fans the chance for restitution. You see, 30 years ago England lost the 50-over final to the same opponent at the same venue in controversial circumstances and the ‘we was robbed’ feeling has never quite gone away.

I played in the match and was at the heart of the first controversy which came early on in Pakistan’s innings after they won the toss and batted first. A huge crowd of 88,000 turned out on a swelteringly hot day for the final. But, as most ticket-holders were Australian who wanted neither us nor Pakistan to win the cup, the predominant noise was an ambiguous hum.

That lack of din meant I would have heard if Javed Miandad had got a bat on the two lbw shouts I had against him in the space of four balls in the 11th over. An inside-edge was the only reason umpire Steve Bucknor could have found in Javed’s favour — THEY WERE THAT PLUMB.

Derek Pringle played in the last World Cup Final against Pakistan thirty years ago in Australia 

How was I so sure at least one of them was out? Well, when I went to congratulate Pakistan on their win, Javed shook my hand then tapped his shin and, with that mischievous grin of his, said: ‘Bad luck, Allah smile on me today’.

There being no Decision Review System back then, players had to grin and bear such aberrations, something I did but not before making a few choice comments to Bucknor that would have brought me a whopping fine from today’s match referees.

Would that one wicket have made such a difference? You can never be certain but Javed was Pakistan’s finest batsman at the time and his dismissal would have left them reeling on 30 for three.

Javed made 58 in a telling 139-run partnership with Imran Khan, who played a captain’s innings of 72. Pakistan were a talented, young side but without those major contributions from their two old stagers it is doubtful they’d have reached 200 instead of 249.

The legendary Imran Khan celebrates Pakistan's 50-over World Cup win over England in 1992

The legendary Imran Khan celebrates Pakistan’s 50-over World Cup win over England in 1992 

I recall thinking we’d have to bat exceptionally well to win. We didn’t, and before we’d even settled in our seats, Ian Botham, our pinch-hitting opener, had been caught behind off Wasim for nought (he swears to this day he never edged it).

Not that we were without hope. We batted deep and in Graham Gooch, Graeme Hick, Allan Lamb and Neil Fairbrother had some of the best one-day batsmen in world cricket. But the biggest events tend to be decided by the big players. Enter Wasim to remove Lamb and Chris Lewis in successive balls, deliveries of such pace and late reverse-swing that they alone were worth the price of admission.

This was the second controversy. That World Cup was the first to use coloured clothing and white balls, which meant there was a new ball at each end. To gain reverse-swing by legal means usually takes 30-35 overs of wear and tear, so there would not have been enough time for that in the final, neither ball being more than 25 overs old.

The England players and staff look disheartened after Pakistan's controversial World Cup win

The England players and staff look disheartened after Pakistan’s controversial World Cup win 

Although accusations of foul play were never levelled, it left a sour taste with some in our dressing room but not me. Being a bowler, I always felt Wasim’s reverse-swing to be genius and wish I knew how to prepare the old cricket ball for such thrilling aerodynamics.

Our tail wagged back in 1992 but we never really got within touching distance and lost by 22 runs. For most in the team, this was their last chance of winning a World Cup.

Imran used victory to raise funds for a cancer hospital in Lahore in memory of his mother. For me, knowing such a great deed came from the event made defeat — and Bucknor’s bloopers — that little bit easier to take, but only a little.