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Watch: The vicious Rumesh Ratnayake bouncer that cost Larry Gomes a broken nose and several teeth

Rumesh Ratnayake bowls a bouncer to Larry Gomes, Melbourne 1985
by Wisden Staff 3 minute read

Watch: At Melbourne in 1984/85, Sri Lanka’s Rumesh Ratnayake bowled a brutal bouncer that hit West Indies’ Larry Gomes on the mouth, forcing him to retire hurt.

All seven ICC Full Members participated in the 1984/85 Benson & Hedges World Championship of Cricket. While hosts Australia, England, India, and Pakistan were all pooled in one group, the West Indies were pitted along with New Zealand and the newest Test-playing nation, Sri Lanka.

A washout against the West Indies and a 51-run win against Sri Lanka had helped New Zealand qualify for the semi-finals. And after they restricted Sri Lanka to 135-7 in 47 overs at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, the West Indies seemed set to go through as well despite Gordon Greenidge’s absence.


The Sri Lankan pace attack – Ashantha de Mel, Vinothen John, Ratnayake – was impressive but not threatening. None of them was out-and-out quick. Yet, on the lively Melbourne pitch, they managed to extract steep bounce.

De Mel struck the first blow. The bouncer hit Richie Richardson, donning a maroon cap (not the trademark maroon hat – that would come later in his career) on the cheek. Richardson spat out teeth, and retired hurt.

Neither that blow nor Desmond Haynes’ helmet at the other end convinced Gomes to don headgear of any sort. As Ratnayake ran in with the familiar white headband, it marked a rare instance where the batter was bareheaded but the bowler was not.

The ball rose awkwardly, breaking Gomes’ nose. As he crumpled, the Sri Lankans assembled around him – but Ratnayake walked back after a quick look. Gomes lost two teeth as well, and walked back. The West Indies were technically 55-0, but two of their batters were back in the pavilion.

Ratnayake then had Viv Richards (caught de Mel), while de Mel bowled Haynes. They reduced one of the greatest sides of all time to 90-2 (technically 90-4), but Clive Lloyd and Gus Logie ensured the West Indies won in the 24th over to top the group. However, they lost to Pakistan in the semi-final, and were knocked out.

Watch Rumesh Ratnayake’s bouncer here:

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