It was ridiculous to have boundary count rule in World Cup final: Ian Smith
Debasis Sen, Tauranga: The second day of the upcoming first Test between India and New Zealand at Basin Reserve will mark the 30th anniversary of a famous international knock played by former Kiwi cricketer turned commentator Ian Smith. Smith’s 173 runs against a Kapil Dev-led attack during that 1990 series is still the most by a No 9 batsman. 63 year old Smith also had the misfortune of witnessing his country losing out in three Super Overs in last six months including the 2019 World Cup final against England at Lords. In a candid chat during a break from his commentary stint with Sky TV, the veteran wicket-keeper batsman spoke on various issues. Here are the excerpts:
How have you managed to check your emotions despite watching your nation losing out on three Super Overs in last six months?
I think because I have doing this (commentary) for such a long time I made a reputation as a neutral commentator. I am a commentator that lives in New Zealand but not one who does commentary for New Zealand. So that way I am being able to keep my emotions in check. I will be lying if I say I don’t like to see the BlackCaps win. But at the same time if they lose it doesn’t get to me that much.
Can you talk us about those final few moments during that final at Lords?
Well the biggest stage in the world. The fact of the matter was we were the underdogs going into that final. We have been to the 2015 World Cup final so I knew that the players themselves will probably handle the occasion. But for my point of view was that you were given the opportunity to speak about the greatest moment. So you don’t want to get it wrong or miss out. You don’t wanna sound that you are favoring one team.
What do you say about the ridiculous boundary count rule in a major ICC event?
Yeah, that to me was always a mistake. You don’t expect that either captain would have gone to their team and said we needed a lot of fours tonight just in case the Super Over ends in a tie. Ridiculous thought though. The fact that it was a beautiful day, the light was fantastic and it was a full house with viewers all around the world watching. Just go again and have another Super Over and that makes so much sense. Now off course it has happened that way they (ICC) have changed the rule.
Is it concerning to have such low turnouts for this series against India?
I think it is concerning for the sport in the country. It was a very concerning sight the other day when they had only 13000 odd spectators at Eden Park which is our biggest city. And among those 13000 odd spectators two thirds were Indian fans. You get good crowd in the provincial areas because they don’t see a lot of rugby here. The future of New Zealand cricket is to organize matches in boutique cricket grounds like this, the ones with the grass banks with the kids running around and having fun. The grounds are not heavily policed as well. The crowd turnout at the bigger cities is a concern.
How big a disappointment it has been for the fans to not see Virat Kohli score some big runs in the series so far?
I think Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli are the two best batsmen at the moment. Those are the players I would be paying to watch them bat. I liked the way they go about. I also like the beauty and grace they bring into their batting. It was a great disappointment to see Rohit go home and miss a bulk of the tour. And talking about Virat, you hardly see him going through a phase without scoring runs. I am sure we will see some big scores from his bat in the test series coming up.
What is your take on the upcoming test series coming up?
I think this is the best Indian team to come here in New Zealand in terms of balance. I think it is the best bowling attack they have got with the likes of Shami, Bumrah, Ishant and Umesh. I think it will be a great battle in the test series. Whoever’s top order handles the new ball the best will come out with flying colours and would probably win the series. They key will be who bowls and fields the best at key moments of the test.
You still hold the record for scoring the most runs by a No 9 batsman against India. How special was that knock?
Well it feels special because I only got two test hundreds. We were in trouble with 7/130. And at the end of the day we were 387 for 9. It was just a freakish day. It just worked beautifully for me. I still have fond memories of that innings I played, still the highest score by No 9. So, it’s been nearly 30 years and I am proud to hold that record till date. And against India it is even more special.
Lastly, are you looking forward to a commentary stint in the Indian Premier League?
I am looking forward to perhaps in the next couple of years being involved in at least one season in IPL. My friends in commentary Mike Hesson, Brendon McCullum, Scott Styris say it’s fun and so hopefully I hope to get an opportunity in next couple of years.