“Turner started to find the gaps in the field with ease. He was fed with a lot of full deliveries and the batsmen made the full use of it”
In the summer of 1975, England hosted the first-ever Cricket World Cup. It was a brand new concept and there was a lot of anticipation around the cricketing world about this new format.
On June 7, the opening day of the competition, four matches had taken place. The England vs India at Lord’s is considered as the first World Cup match, whereas on the same day New Zealand took on a combined East African team (cricketers from Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania and Zambia) at Edgbaston, Birmingham.
It was a sunny morning and New Zealand skipper Turner had no hesitation to bat first after winning the toss. The East African side had a significant lack of experience and Turner wanted to put them under pressure by setting up a big total to chase. Opening the batting alongside John Morrison, Turner looked fairly comfortable at the crease. He had a vast experience of playing in England and it was evident from his batsmanship.
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However, batting at 16, Turner got a reprieve. The Kiwi skipper drove one straight back to Prabhu Nana, the 42-year-old left-arm spinner. But the Gujarat-born bowler failed to hold on to that chance.
And it turned out to be a costly miss.
Turner started to find the gaps in the field with ease. He was fed with a lot of full deliveries and the batsmen made the full use of it. Though New Zealand lost the wickets of Morrison (14) and Geoff Howarth (20) fairly cheaply, but thanks to Turner’s solidity at the crease the East African bowlers never had the upper hand. He was dominating the bowling a maintained a decent strike-rate throughout his innings and was well supported by John Parker (66).
Eventually, Turner, went on to carry his bat. He finished on 171 not out and New Zealand reached 309 for five in their allotted 60 overs. Turner’s knock had taken 201 balls and had 16 fours and two sixes. Considering the quality and experience in the opposition camp, at the halfway stage the score seemed like way beyond East Africa’s reach.
Nevertheless, as expected, East African batting failed to put up any sort of resistance. They could only manage 128 for 8 in their allotted overs, with the Pakistan-born opener Frasat Ali top scoring with 45. New Zealand registered a comfortable victory by a margin of 181 runs.
In the 1975 World Cup Turner scored one more century (114* against India) and comfortably finished top of the run-scoring charts with 33 runs.
Turner’s 171 against East Africa remained the highest individual score in an innings in that 1975 as well as the subsequent 1979 edition of the World Cup. Eight years later it was Kapil Dev who went on the break that record during his knock of 175 against Zimbabwe during India’s victorious campaign in the 1983 edition.