Cricket World Rewind: #OnThisDay - Viv Richards and Richie Richardson turn up the heat against Australia
April 9, 1984 - In the 25-year period from 1976 to 2000, West Indies won 20 out of their 23 home series. This was when West Indies cricket was at its peak, in the mid-1980s, during a 18-year period they didn't lose a single series at home.
On their five-Test tour of West Indies in 1984, Australia were trying hard to eke out a win from somewhere against one of the greatest teams of all time. After drawing the 1st Test in Georgetown, Guyana and the 2nd Test in Queen's Park Oval, Port of Spain, they had suffered a 10-wicket defeat in the 3rd Test at Kensington Oval in Barbados.
Their batters were struggling in particular against the formidable pace battery of Malcolm Marshall, Joel Garner, Michael Holding and Eldine Baptiste. Roger Harper was the lone Caribbean sinner.
In the 4th Test at the Antigua Recreation Ground, St John's in Antigua, Australia had folded up for 262 in the first innings. As always, Allan Border waged a lone battle for them, getting dismissed just two shy of a well-deserved Test ton in an innings which lasted for over 200 deliveries and 280 minutes.
The West Indian batting was the weaker of their two suits, but examining it individually, it was strong enough to elicit a blush from even the strongest batting unit ever. With the dynamic duo of Gordon Greenidge and Desmond Haynes at the top and Richie Richardson and Sir Viv Richards in the middle, it made for a formidable top four.
A more than capable wicketkeeper-batsman Jeff Dujon was slated to come in at five. The strength of the Indies' batting order can be gauged with the fact that skipper Clive Lloyd, with a Test batting average of over 45, came out to bat at number six in that innings.
When great West Indian batters are talked about, from George Headley to Frank Worrell, Clyde Walcott and Everton Weekes, from Garry Sobers and Rohan Kanhai, to Gordon Greenidge, Desmond Haynes, Clive Lloyd and Viv Richards and finally to Brian Lara and Shivnarine Chanderpaul, Richie Richardson is never really given his due.
In the shadow of the obvious and the overarching dominance of Richards - there's a peculiar connection between the surnames of the two - Richardson not only managed to match Sir Viv Shot for shot, but at times ran past him. In fact, in the period from 1988-89 to 1992, Richardson was the second most prolific Test batsman, just behind Graham Gooch. During this period, he scored 2520 runs from 27 Tests at a truly impressive average of 54.78, with 8 centuries and 10 half centuries.
In this game, after West Indies lost both openers before the 50-run milestone, Richards and Richardson smashed Australia all round the St John's ground. While Richardson, batting at one drop, scored 154 runs from 326 deliveries with 21 boundaries, Richards was at his destructive best, scoring 178 from just 229 balls at a strike rate of 77.72 as he dispatched the balls to the boundary no less than 30 times.
The two added 308 for the third wicket, after which Australia - who had to win the match to square the series - were dead and buried. Their stand is the 2nd highest 3rd wicket stand against Australia.
Australia, who had to follow on, after the mammoth partnership, then had to face the 'smell the leather' deliveries from Garner which they struggled against. A five-wicket haul from the giant meant that Australia were bowled out for exactly 200 in the second essay following on and West Indies won by an innings and 36 runs.
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