By Neil Fissler
Dave Houghton admits that Zimbabwe were just worried about saving themselves from embarrassment after being bowled out by England for 134.
It was their final group game and Zimbabwe had lost their previous seven games and at lunch it appeared as if they would be heading for an eighth.
Houghton had scratched around for 90 minutes to top score with 29 as Zimbabwe were dismissed on a poor pitch in Albury, New South Wales.
And he remembers a conversation that he had with former England captain Geoffrey Boycott who predicted that they would knock off the runs conformably.
Houghton says that he was only concerned with making the game go as long as possible and they had no thoughts of winning.
“That was the only World Cup where you played everybody once,” he said. “So it was a fun World Cup from that point of view. We went into the tournament with fairly high expectations.
“In our very first game in New Plymouth in New Zealand, we played Sri Lanka and it was Andy Flower’s first game and he scored a hundred. We posted 312 which was then the highest score in 50-over cricket. We held the record for about three hours and 20 minutes because we lost with something like a ball to go.
“Then we came to our last game against England and we really struggled batting-wise and we put it down to a long tour.
“But in hindsight it was the worst wicket that they could ever have played one-day cricket on and we scrambled 134 but it took us about 45 or 46 overs or so.
“Every time we tried to move along we lost a wicket. I remember going into the dressing room at lunchtime and Geoff Boycott, who was commentating, brought a new white ball in.
“He asked for my signature because he was collecting all of the captains signatures and when I had signed it he decided to give me a little lecture on how he thought we should have played.
“It was professionals versus amateurs and then you’ll finish up watching the guys go out there and knock the ball around in one’s and two’s and they will do it easily.
“Sadly I never got to see him afterwards but we are quite good friends so it would be nice one day to remind him of that.
“The guys came in after their meal, so I said this is our last game in the World Cup, so let’s try to keep England out there as long as possible.
“We never harboured any thought of winning we just wanted to make sure we weren’t embarrassed.”
England were in trouble from the very first ball of their innings when chicken farmer Eddo Brandes trapped Graham Gooch lbw.
The wickets, as they had done in the Zimbabwe innings, started to fall on a regular basis but Houghton says that his objective never once changed.
In the end England were left embarrassed when they were dismissed for 124 with five balls to spare to hand the part-timers a shock win by nine wickets.
Houghton said: “Because of the wicket it was impossible to score. Eddo had a fantastic start, taking three of the first four wickets very quickly. He got Gooch out first ball and I know that him and Graeme Hick had grown up together and were best buddies and he always had a thing about getting him out which he did.
“John Traicos came on to bowl his off spinners but they couldn’t hit him off the square. It was a wicket where the ball just stuck and you played shots far too early.
“The ball was popping up and you were getting caught but it was still possible to score so even when we had them 43-5 our objective was exactly the same as it was at lunchtime.
“The worst thing you can do when you get bowled out cheaply is try and bowl the other side out quickly because then you just get hammered.
“The best thing to do is to try and get the game to go as long as it can.
“England were already through to the semi-final so for them the result was irrelevant but for us it was a magical moment.”
BACK ROW (left-right):
Alistair Campbell: Batsman. Became Zimbabwe’s director of international cricket and commercial affairs. He is the director of a retail credit firm.
Kevin Duers: Seamer was forced to retire through injury. He now lives in Saffron Walden and coaches in local schools, for his local club and district cricket in Essex.
Andy Flower: Opening batsman who kept wicket. Led England to three wins in Ashes series became the ECB’s technical director of elite coaching.
Ali Shah: All-rounder lives in Harare and runs a commodities trading company. Has also worked as a commentator and been a national selector.
Wayne James: Opening batsman who also kept wicket. Was a national team selector until April 2014 and is now coaching Matabeleland Tuskers.
Mark Burmester: Seamer was the first Zimbabwean to take a wicket in Test cricket. Has worked on the bag for golfer son Dean and is also sales manager for a furniture company.
Andy Waller: Batsman. He became the head coach of Namibia then coaching manager of Zimbabwe cricket as well as head coach of Mid West Rhinos. His son Malcolm plays for Zimbabwe.
John Traicos: Spinner born in Egypt has lived in Australia since 1997 and is working as legal manager and company secretary for MZI Resources in Perth. Played Tests for both South Africa and Zimbabwe.
Iain Butchart: Seamer was a poultry farmer in Zimbabwe but is now running the Opencreak Farm in Knysna, South Africa.
Kevin Arnott: Batsman whose father Don played for Rhodesia. Spent 20 years as lawyer at the biggest legal firm in Harare.
Lindsay Trigar: Has run his Queensland-based physiotherapy sports clinic for 26 years and has also worked for the Brisbane Broncos and Queensland Bulls.
Derrick Townshend: Team manager was a well-known administrator in Zimbabwe until his death in Bulawayo in June 2013, aged 69.
Dave Houghton: Batsman and captain went into coaching and has coached Derbyshire, Somerset and is now batting coach at Middlesex.
Eddo Brandes: Fast bowler who was a chicken farmer. Moved to Australia to coach the Sunshine Coast Scorchers where he has settled and is now a tomato farmer.
Malcolm Jarvis: Fast bowler is living near Harare. Has run the Malcolm Lodge Guest House and his son Kyle plays for Lancashire.
Andy Pycroft: Batsman who went into coaching and coached Zimbabwe’s A team but since 2009 has been working for the ICC as a match referee.
This piece originally featured in The Cricket Paper, Friday January 15 2016