Watch: At the MCC Bicentenary Match at Lord’s in 1987, Roger Harper pulled off one of the all-time great run outs to send Graham Gooch back.
The match featured an ensemble cast, but produced a dreary contest on a flat wicket as only 19 wickets fell across five days of cricket. Gooch made 117 and Mike Gatting 179 in the MCC’s first innings.
For the Rest of the World XI, Sunil Gavaskar responded with 188 – his only hundred at the venue – while Dilip Vengsarkar, the first overseas cricketer to score three Test hundreds at the venue, got only 22. Gordon Greenidge later made 122 in the MCC’s second innings.
The run out took place in the MCC’s first innings. Harper had already taken an excellent catch off Abdul Qadir to dismiss Greenidge. The MCC were 254-3 and Gooch on 117 when Harper ran in to bowl.
Harper leapt in characteristic manner, releasing the ball with the high-arm action. The ball came flat, and Gooch stepped out to hit it hard, but he hit it too straight, just to the right of Harper.
Harper swooped down, fielded the ball with his right hand, and threw it back to hit the stumps at the striker’s end. Gooch had time to turn – and no more. He fell, more sideways than on the way towards the crease, which makes one wonder whether he was trying to intercept the throw.
Gooch had to walk back. As was norm back then, the scorecard did not mention Harper next to the dismissal, despite Scyld Berry’s insistence that Gooch be given out ‘st and b Harper’.
In the 1980s and 1990s, Harper played a key role for the great West Indian side, as the spinner who would keep the runs in check at one end as the fast bowlers would come on from the other. His 46 wickets came at 28.09, an average better than that of Lance Gibbs, Alf Valentine, or Sonny Ramadhin.
He could also bat, but there is little doubt that fielding was his forte. And of his numerous excellent fielding efforts, the run out of Gooch is the most celebrated.
Watch Roger Harper run out Graham Gooch here: