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The ‘club cricket’ ploy that helped Scotland dismiss David Gower for a duck

Ben Gardner by Ben Gardner
@Ben_Wisden 3 minute read

Speaking on The Cricket Scotland Podcast, former Scotland captain George Salmond recalled an incident from 1992 when another former Saltires skipper, Bruce Russell, employed an ingenious tactic to help dismiss David Gower for a duck.

“When I first got into the Scotland team in the early ‘90s, Bruce was one of the first captains that I played under, and I can remember a game at Hamilton Crescent in the old Benson and Hedges Cup when we were playing Hampshire,” he said. “In those days there were two days set aside for the game and the first day was certainly rain-affected. We had scored around about 150, 160 which wasn’t bad on a really wet wicket because the conditions had been so poor. That including facing Malcolm Marshall as well.

“Hampshire had only a few overs to bat that evening and Mark Nicholas their captain was retired hurt and wouldn’t be batting in the game, he’d broken a finger while fielding. I remember Peter Duthie running down the hill at West Lothian and he got [Tony Middleton] out, the opening batsman, and David Gower came out to bat at No.3 for Hampshire.

“And Bruce came up with this genius plan which was, as Gower reached the wicket, we would all go back to our fielding positions, but the fielding positions we had been in for [Tony Middleton], who was a right-hander. And then when David Gower took guard as a left-hander, Bruce would shout ‘It’s a left-hander’ and we would all run round. That’s something that happens quite frequently in club cricket but we’re speaking here about one of the best batsmen of all time in David Gower who presumably everyone in the ground and certainly the players in the field should know that he was left-handed.

“So I had to run from what was David Gower’s square leg across to cover point and I can remember as Bruce shouted that and I ran past David Gower he stepped back and did that little wry grin that Gower does. He knew exactly what we’d done. Peter Duthie came down the hill and David Gower nicked it behind, first ball, out.”

By the time the Cricket World Cup rolled around in 1999, Salmond was in charge, but he hadn’t forgotten the ploy, and thought he’d spotted his chance when Brian Lara came into bat in Scotland’s penultimate game of the tournament against West Indies. Instead, the move backfired, with the Caribbean southpaw showing why he’s a cut above the rest. “As a young impressionable player I thought, ‘Do you know, I’m going to bank that experience and at some point in the future that might come out’,” he said. “So at about 35-2 [22-2] when Brian Lara came out to bat chasing 63 [69], I thought ‘Here’s a moment, let’s see, if we’re not going to win the game, let’s see if we can at least get Brian Lara out’.

“So we decided to do the same plan. I shouted ‘left hand’ I was square leg across to cover point, Brian Lara… he didn’t do any kind of wry grin. He just stayed in his crease ready for that first ball and preceded to smash it everywhere and it was game over very quickly. Had it worked I’d have taken the plaudits, but I think it proves that there is only one Bruce Russell.”

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