West Indies off-spinner Roger Harper is remembered for a notorious fielding mishap on New Year’s Day of 1996. Harper cleverly claimed a catch despite having dropped a sitter that Australian batter Michael Bevan played straight to him on the follow-through.
The incident happened in Match 5 of the Benson & Hedges tri-series, also involving Sri Lanka. During the second half of the rain-marred fixture reduced to a 43-over game, Harper bowled a loopy off-break from around-the-wicket angle to Bevan.
Bevan had only just begun his innings and was perhaps done in the air by the delivery from Roger Harper as he ended up pushing it straight towards the bowler. Harper tried to adjust to the ball’s lower trajectory, made a front drive but failed to properly collect the ball.
But this is where the drama began as Harper started claiming the catch.
Roger Harper claims foul catch of Michael Bevan in a New Year’s classic
Roger Harper began celebrating after throwing the ball in the air, with the rest of the West Indies fielders soon joining him. However, Bevan decided to stand his ground, doubtful of the legitimacy of Harper’s take.
This resulted in a discussion between the two standing umpires, who decided to check with the technology and arrive at a final conclusion.
What followed on the big screen left everyone shocked. Harper had failed to cleanly grasp the ball and dropped it down while he made his attempted dive and actually picked up the ball from the turf before throwing it up and celebrating the wicket.
NOT OUT, MATE pic.twitter.com/tKCzsO0BpD
— Rob Moody (@robelinda2) January 1, 2022
`As it happened, Harper’s drop was a big moment in the game. Bevan, who had walked into the tricky chase of 173 runs with Australia 4/32 – which soon became 7 for 74 – went on to play a match-winning knock of 78 not out off 88 balls.
In one of the earliest indications of what a giant Bevan was to become in the ODI game, he held an end up to keep his team afloat and didn’t allow West Indies to get on top irrevocably. Australia eventually won the game on the final ball of the innings with a wicket intact.