45 days to World Cup: The forgotten hero of Australia's 1987 triumph

Australia's world domination would not have been possible without a helping hand from Veletta in the 1987 final, which remains a forgotten gem.

Published: 15th April 2019 09:54 PM  |   Last Updated: 15th April 2019 09:54 PM   |  A+A-

Veletta's 31-ball 45 made the difference in a close encounter | Twitter@ACA_Players

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When you play a match-turning innings in a World Cup final that helps your side clinch the title, you expect to be a folk hero when the story of the tournament is retold.

Especially, when that innings came in just your sixth ODI. But that is far from how history remembers Mike Veletta, the forgotten hero of Australia's maiden World Cup triumph.

With 45 days to go before the 2019 World Cup, here is a look at how Veletta's 31-ball 45 changed the course of not just 1987 final but the course of history as well.

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Much like his career, his inclusion in the World Cup squad was almost an afterthought. After all, he had only played two ODIs and scored just five runs before he was picked in Australia's World Cup squad.

He didn't get off to a great start in the tournament either. After not playing in the first four games of the group stage, when he made his World Cup debut against New Zealand, he was dismissed for a golden duck but when it mattered most, Veletta delivered.

At 168/4, Australia were in a spot of bother in the final against England. But Veletta joined Allan Border and took the attack to England from the outset.

Even before finishing with a flourish and going at a strike rate of 150 became commonplace, Veletta did both. 

He did so by going deep into the crease and hitting the ball predominantly through the leg side. Despite being known as a dogged opener for Western Australia, for whom he once batted 13 hours to score 266 in a Sheffield Shield final, his running between the wickets and ability to score quickly changed the game in Australia's favour.

He hit six boundaries and although Border was dismissed towards the end, Veletta carried on and finished an unbeaten 45 at a strike rate of 145, which was unheard of back then.

That helped Australia post a competitive total of 253/5. Despite England looking on course for a well-deserved win, one false shot from Mike Gatting, who went for a reverse sweep, ended up costing his side as Australia got over the line by just seven runs.

History doesn't remember Veletta too kindly as his ODI career was over before it could really blossom. He played just 20 ODIs but Australia's domination would not have been possible without a helping hand from Veletta in 1987 final, which remains a forgotten gem.

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