The very words ‘TEXACO TROPHY’ evoke images of carefree summer days of my youth. An exciting day in front of the telly, or if you were really lucky a day at the ground. A day that would be full of unbridled fun watching cavalier batsmen scoring at upwards of 3 runs an over occasionally. A few boundaries here and there, hardly any maidens bowled, well only about 10% of the overs bowled anyway. It was breathless stuff!
Of course, I’m being facetious, things were very different in the cricketing world in 1984 than they are now 36 years later. Entertainment was a bonus not an expectation. No-one had heard or conceived ramp shots, switch hitting or range hitting. Music, pyrotechnics and coloured shirts were far less a priority than making sure you got a full tea break in between innings and a day of red ball cricket. As the games were played just before the Test Series, they were a good opportunity to try out a player in international cricket and if he performed well, he’d invariably find himself in the Test side. Or conversely if someone failed then they’d have to wait awhile to get back into the England fold. It was the perfect audition.
Sitting here in 2020 any form of cricket being played is manna from heaven. I, like most people I speak to am very much Test Cricket first and then anything else I can get to watch second. Back in the 80s and 90s “One Day Cricket” always struck me as something of a glamorous cousin visiting for the summer holidays. It would momentarily grab the headlines and steal the attention. A flashy interloper who would turn up and show you up in front of your mates, steal the girl you’d fancied for months and then disappear in a flash and leave you picking up the pieces with your traditional ways.
The Texaco Trophy ran from 1984-1998 and featured the side(s) that were touring England that summer for a Test Series. Invariably made up of 3 matches (Pakistan 1992 was 5, Sri Lanka 1988 just 1) The matches were usually 55 overs per side, although in that first year it was just 50. The matches were a perfect curtain raiser for the main Act of the summer, Test Match cricket.
Although in contrast to today’s batsman friendly games some of the stats from the first year of the Texaco Trophy are startling. The best team in the world; West Indies, were in England that year yet only once in 3 matches did either team score over 200 runs from their 50 overs. An even bigger indicator of the change in One Day cricket to the heavy batted slog fests we now witness is that only one batsman, the peerless IVA Richards, scored at better a run a ball in any of the 6 innings (he did it twice, his 189* at Old Trafford is still one of the best One Day innings that I’ve ever seen)
The concept of “specialist” One Day players hadn’t really evolved in the early days of the trophy. A few notable exceptions stood out, Neil Fairbrother being one. Before your Knights, Ealhams, Hollioakes and Solankis the One Day team was almost always identical to the Test side. Towards the end in 1998, several “bits and pieces” players had started to be picked. An unfair description in some cases for very talented players who came in especially for the shorter format as they could both bat and bowl a bit but perhaps wouldn’t be picked solely for one discipline.
Despite this one size fits all approach England used to fare reasonably well, even though they lost the first 4 series of the 20 that were eventually played, they ended up with a 13-7 winning record over the years.
Nowadays it’s bilateral series this and Champion’s Trophy that but I never know when they’re going to cram these in during a usually packed summer. You knew where you stood with the “Texaco” and things were better for it. They were special days.
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