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Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Test at Gabba tomorrow .... the story of Rick Darling !

After that pulsating finish at Adelaide, the 2nd Test starts tomorrow at Brisbane with 2 different Captains – Australians have new Captain Steve Smith replacing Clarke, while Dhoni returns to keep and cap.  Probably the spirits of Phil Hughes would slowly wane away.

Woolloongabba is a suburb of Brisbane, Queensland, Australia;  particularly famous for being the site of the Brisbane Cricket Ground, known as "The Gabba".  The ground records suggest that the land was set aside for the game way back in 1895. The first Test match at The Gabba was played between Australia and South Africa  in Nov – Dec 1931. Over the years, besides Cricket, the Gabba has hosted athletics, Australian rules football, baseball, concerts, cycling, rugby, and pony and greyhound races.  The 1st  Tied test between Australia and West Indies  was played here at Brisbane in Dec 1960.  Record books would perhaps never reveal the drama when Wes Hall bowled the last over with Australia at 227/7 needing 6 runs from the last over (remember it was 8 ball over those days).  Australia required just that solitary run…. 7th ball, Lindsay Kline played to square leg and set off for a single. Joe Solomon’s throw was accurate catching Meckiff out of the crease.

Cine heroines look far different after passage of time, from what their glamour-self were in acting days – the photo that appeared in Cricinfo did not exactly reveal him to be a cricketer. But have heard his name during his playing days – this article on him makes an interesting read. 

Rick Darling knows "what's happened now" could have happened to him a few times in his career. He played Shield cricket in the late '70s and '80s, a time when Australian cricket was so tough it is near-mythical now. It nearly did happen to Darling once, when he blacked out on the pitch during a Test match. Regular blows to the head have left him with post-traumatic epilepsy. He still has trouble with light entering his bad left eye, which bore the brunt of a bouncer in a Shield game. Darling was, by most accounts, an adventurous hooker and cutter. He is recognised as one of the best Australian fielders at cover and short cover in his time. He followed the Ian Chappell school of thought when it came to facing the bouncer: try to hook first, which means you are watching the ball for longer than when trying to duck, and pull out of the shot only if it seems too difficult to control.

Darling might have begun to show signs of nerves later in his career, but it was his sense of adventure as Test opener first caught the eye. Yet he played his last Test before he was 23, and ended his first-class career before his 30th birthday. The bouncer played a big part. In early 1979, he was almost killed by a Bob Willis short ball at Adelaide Oval. The man hurt swallowed the chewy as also the tongue and blacked out.   John Emburey was the first man to check on Darling, and he thumped his chest to push the gum out. Umpire Max O'Connell gave him mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. Play continued even as he was taken to hospital. Darling's next conscious moment was in the hospital. He was discharged in the night, and the next morning he resumed his innings on 0 not out after the fifth wicket had fallen.

The courageous man got back and hooked again.  In what turned out to be his last Test at Wankhede in 1979, he was hurt again on the head and had to be hospitalised.  Later he got hit in eye by John Maguire from Queensland, when he tried  to hook but the ball went between the visor and the top part of the helmet smashing eye and finishing his career.  Now his son 21 is an opener and Wicketkeeper at A grade level in Adelaide. 

Remember that India won that Test no.860 at Wankhede in Nov 1979.  India batting first made 458- Sunil Gavaskar made 123 and had 192 partnership with Chetan Chauhan who made 73.  Syed Kirmani who came in as a nightwatchman made a century; and shared a century partnership with Karsan Ghavri who made 86.   Kim Hughes led Aussies that had Hilditch, Yallop, Border, Whatmore, Darling were all out for 160.  The wicketkeeper was little known KJ Wright.  Dilip Doshi took 5/43 and Shivlal Yadav 4/40. Following on, Australia made 198 losing by an innings and 100 runs.  In the 2nd innings Kapil took 4 and Doshi 3; while Darling was retired-hurt.

Now what do you think will happen at Brisbane ?

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
16th Dec 2014.

Photo and article on Rick Darling : credit :

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