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Cricket World Rewind: #OnThisDay - Sir Viv Richards, Jeff Dujon and Malcolm Marshall's retirement leaves huge void in West Indies team

Sir Viv Richards
Sir Viv Richards
©Reuters

August 12, 1991 - Even the best of teams suffer when a top player says goodbye to the game. And when three big names call it a day together, the void is too big to fill.

 

Even champion teams like Australia and West Indies have had to go through a long phase of rebuilding after some of their big names retired. In 1984, Greg Chappell, Dennis Lillee and Rod Marsh walked into the sunset together after a test victory against Pakistan in Sydney.

Chappell was Australia's highest run-getter with 7,110 runs from 87 tests. Lilee finished with 355 wickets while Marsh had 355 dismissals to his name, standing behind the wickets. Both were world record holders in terms of most wickets and most keeping dismissals in test cricket at the time.

Chappel was also Australia's most successful captain and one of the best leaders in world cricket. Once the three retired together in 1984, it took about 10 years for the side to fully recover from the damage.

In the case of West Indies, Viv Richards, Malcolm Marshall and Jeff Dujon hung their boots after the test series at home against England in 1991. All three were past their prime. Going into the fifth and the last test match of the series, West Indies were still leading 2-1 and just needed a draw to win the series.

 

 

However, unlike the Australian trio, the West Indian legends did not have a memorable farewell as England won the match by 5 wickets to draw the series.

Malcolm Marshall picked up three wickets in the match. Jeff Dujon took two catches and managed just five runs in the game. Viv Richards had the best outing among the three.

After he had demoted himself to number 8 due to a headache, Viv lasted just seven deliveries, scoring two runs in the first innings. But, he reiterated in his last test innings why he remains the greatest batsman of all time.

Coming into bat at number 6 with West Indies following on, Richards made a flowing 60, which had glimpses of his regal splendour. The batsman cut the ball ferociously and drove on both sides of the wicket. There was also the iconic pull off the front foot on display.

In what turned out to be his last-ever stroke in international cricket, Richards drove Dave Lawrence to mid-on where Hugh Morris held onto it on the full. The legend walked back to the pavilion, and with him not only walked back 8,540 test runs but the swagger of a champion that has since never been seen on a cricket field.

West Indies gave England a 143-run target which the visitors chased down with half their wickets to spare.

As expected, West Indies found it hard to cope with the void. Richards departed with 8,540 test runs, only behind Sunil Gavaskar and Allan Border in world cricket. Malcolm Marshall had 376 test wickets by the time he decided to call it a day. Only Richard Hadlee and Ian Botham had more wickets than Marshall at the time. Wicketkeeper Jeff Dujon's 272 dismissals were second only to Rod Marsh.

This was the first time West Indies were asked to follow-on in seven years while England had enforced their first follow-on over Windies in as many as 22 years. The retirement of the three legends was the beginning of the end for West Indies. They still had enough depth to not lose a series until 1995, after which the ball just kept rolling southwards.

 

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