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Cricket World Rewind: #OnThisDay - Viv Richards, Collis King & Joel Garner help West Indies successfully defend World Cup title in 1979

Sir Viv Richards
Sir Viv Richards
©Reuters

June 23, 1979 - After West Indies became the first-ever ODI champions by beating Australia by 17 runs in the 1975 Prudential World Cup, the team had little difficulty in storming into the finals of the next edition.

 

While the West Indies bowling looked completely different with the likes of Andy Roberts, Joel Garner, Michael Holding and Colin Croft having come into the team by 1979, many of the batters like Gordon Greenidge, Sir Viv Richards, Alvin Kallicharran and Clive Lloyd were part of both the campaigns.

Playing in their home conditions, England were set back by an injury to Bob Willis in the semi-final against New Zealand. Given that the conditions were cloudy at Lord's on the day of the final, it was an even bigger disadvantage for the hosts.

To plug the hole, England head to rely on part-time bowlers Geoffrey Boycott, Graham Gooch and Wayne Larkins to bowl 12 overs among themselves - the ODIs consisted of 60 overs per inning then.

England won the toss and invited West Indies to bat first. In conducive conditions for swing bowling Ian Botham, Mike Hendrick and Chris Old cashed in, dismissing Desmond Haynes, Alvin Kallicharran and Clive Lloyd in quick succession. Gordon Greenidge perished to a run-out from Derek Randall and West Indies were in trouble at 99/4.

 

 

This is when Collis King joined Sir Vivian Richards at the crease. Richards had one message for the incoming batsman: take it easy. However, King took a different route.

He realised that the pressure could be put back on England only if they targeted their part-time bowlers. King was particularly severe on Boycott as the part-timer conceded 38 runs from his 6 overs.

While Richards was playing sensibly at one end, King thumped 86 runs off 66 deliveries. Richards later said that he may have scored an unbeaten century and received the Man of the Match award but it was actually King who turned the match by taking the attack to the opposition.

As West Indies found themselves in a good position at 238/5 when King departed, Vivian Richards also stepped up a gear and finished with 138 not out, including the iconic last-ball six off Mike Hendrick to take the team to 286.

 

 

England fans might have been relieved with the fact that Mike Brearley and Sir Geoff Boycott, with their watertight techniques, did not allow the formidable West Indian bowlers to break through, but it was not long before they got a different perspective. England had crawled to 79 for no loss but those runs came off 25 overs. The openers were gradually pushing the team into a hole that they could never come out of.

Boycott, in his characteristic style, took as many as 17 overs to reach double figures. Legend has it that Clive Lloyd dropped Boycott's catch on purpose to allow the opener to stay at the crease, thus further bloating the required run rate.

Brearley, who considered playing a few shots after the tea break, had dropped the plan after discussions with Botham and Randall. A decision which left a lot to be desired.

Soon, Michael Holding edged out both the openers in quick succession. When it was the ideal time for England to accelerate with part-timers like Vivian Richards bowling, the team went into another building phase and managed just 50 runs off the next 13 overs.

With the required run rate mounting, Joel Garner took the ball for his second spell. The giant pacer sealed the game for West Indies with 5 wickets from just 11 balls, while conceding only 4 runs. While Graham Gooch, David Gower, Larkins and Old were bowled, three of them yorked, Bob Taylor was caught by wicketkeeper Deryck Murray.

From 183/3, England had been skittled out for 194. The Calypso Kings won the final by a huge margin of 92 runs and succeeded in defending the title without a lot of fuss.

 

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