SK Flashback: Ridley Jacobs dazzles on either side of the stumps against the Kiwis in the World Cup 1999
Wicketkeepers, like umpires, do a thankless job. One mistake and they are hauled over the coals. They must concentrate ball-after-ball, performing efficiently and tirelessly. Whether the ball is jumping or keeping low, whether it is swinging wildly or turning square, the wicketkeeper has to go on uncomplainingly.
Some wicketkeepers are made to open the innings after a hard day, or two, in the field. Others have to stage rearguard action down the order, and then soon don the gauntlets. If, then, a wicketkeeper performs brilliantly both behind and in front of the stumps, it is a stupendous achievement. It is not often that such stellar acts occur. As the West Indies pacemen revelled in favourable conditions, Ridley Jacobs was their faithful ally throughout the innings. Curtly Ambrose struck in his first over as Nathan Astle edged one that was leaving him. Jacobs snapped it up. New Zealand were 2 for one in 2 overs. Stephen Fleming hung around for 17 balls without scoring, playing a loose shot to a Reon King delivery that was slanting away. Jacobs gleefully accepted his second catch. New Zealand were now 22 for three after 10.3 overs.
Craig McMillan, who top-scored with 32, touched a ball from part-time medium-pacer Phil Simmons, and Jacobs pouched another victim. New Zealand slumped to 59 for five after 25.1 overs. Adam Parore, who had put on 50 for the seventh wicket with Chris Harris, tried to hook Mervyn Dillon and was taken down the leg-side by Jacobs. New Zealand had advanced to 125 for seven after 40.3 overs. Jacobs snapped up his fifth catch of the innings when Gavin Larsen nicked Simmons. New Zealand had recovered somewhat to 155 for nine after 47.4 overs. With this, Jacobs equalled the World Cup record of five dismissals in an innings jointly held by India’s Syed Kirmani and Nayan Mongia, compatriot Jimmy Adams, and Pakistan’s Rashid Latif and Umar Akmal later in 2015. Aussie Adam Gilchrist went one better in 2003, pouching six catches against Namibia, emulated by the Pakistani Sarfraz Ahmed against South Africa in 2015.
A satisfying job done behind the sticks, the southpaw Jacobs walked out to open the innings with 157 required for a win. He had already shown form with a half-century in the previous match against Bangladesh. With the ball moving around, Jacobs had some problems early in the innings. He lost Sherwin Campbell for 8 and Jimmy Adams for 3. But he settled down with the maverick Brian Lara. Jacobs reached his fifty off 88 balls, adding a match-winning 72 with Lara. He brought up victory in the 45th over in the company of Stuart Williams. Jacobs was unbeaten with 80 off 131 deliveries, hitting a six off Geoff Allott, besides 8 boundaries. He took away the man-of-the-match prize.
This was the powerful left-hander at his best. Jacobs’ feat was reminiscent of the brilliant performance of another West Indies wicketkeeper Deryck Murray who, with his resolute batting, carried the team to a one-wicket victory with just 2 balls to spare against Pakistan in 1975. On this day in 1999 the situation was not so tense, but Jacobs displayed his versatility, playing for a team that was going through a prolonged downturn. He had another fine achievement to his credit later, carrying his bat through the innings against eventual champions Australia. Ridley Jacobs provided some of the few bright moments in a largely unhappy West Indies campaign.
New Zealand: 156 all out (48.1 overs), West Indies: 158 for 3 wickets (44.2 overs) (CWC 1999)