Overcast conditions and a grassy pitch with a slight tinge of dampness – the Headingley track in 1975 World Cup semi-final between two of the cricket’s biggest rivals was the ‘wildest dream-come-true’ moment for the Australian and English bowlers.
Toying with the batsmen could not get easier, and the boy from Waratah, Gary Gilmour, toyed around a tad more than the others.
Australian captain Ian Chappell elected to field first after winning the all-important toss. The English batting line-up was to face the music of deadly trio Dennis Lillee, Jeff Thompson and Max Walker.
This was just the third one-day international for 23-year-old Gary ‘Gus’ Gilmour. The left-arm pacer was a relatively unknown name on the international circuit, but that all changed after the 1975 World Cup semi-finals.
Ian Chappell put his faith in Gilmour and decided to give him the new ball, and Gus didn’t take long to get started. He dismissed both English openers for a single-digit score. He caught Dennis Amiss leg before wicket and dislodged the stumps of Barry Wood.
It was the start of something special and something of a day of reckoning for the English. Gilmour bowled 12 straight overs and finished with figures of 12-6-14-6.
He became the first bowler to take six wickets in an ODI. He swung the ball at the snap of his fingers. Inswing or the outswing, Gilmour spilled magic with ease. Of his six wickets, four of them were trapped leg before wicket. England were eventually bowled out for a paltry 93.
In reply the English bowlers came out strong. Australia found themselves in dire straits. The scoreboard showed Australia 6-39 as the hero for the Aussies with the ball came out to bat – Gary Gilmour and Doug Walters steadied the ship for the visitors. Gilmour kept the score ticking and scored a 28-ball 28 not out and Australia entered the final of the inaugural edition of World Cup.
Gary Gilmour (Adrian Murrell/Allsport)
This was a Roy of the Rovers moment for Gary Gilmour. The 23-year-old left-arm pacer didn’t stop there – he took a five-for against the Windies in the final, though it came in a losing cause.
Gilmour only played one more ODI after the 1975 World Cup final.
“As a cricketer he was the most talented player of my time, a guy who had extraordinary talents in every facet of cricket,” Steve Bernard said of Gilmour. “In hindsight he probably didn’t reach the heights that he should have, based on his cricket ability, but the guys who played with him and against him will recognise he was a fantastic player, who was dynamic in anything he did in cricket.
“When he was on he was unplayable. He bowled a swinging ball, he could hit the ball a mile, throw it like a bullet and he was a fantastic catcher either close to the wicket or in the outfield – a supreme cricketer. He was a very popular person, Gus, a bit of a larrikin and very much liked by everyone. He didn’t take life all that seriously, played for the enjoyment of it.”
The 23-year-old boy from Waratah stepped up at the biggest stage of them all and wrote his name in World Cup folklore for the baggy green.
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