January 21, 2003

Lloyd leads West Indies to a famous win - 1975

The enormous popularity of the Gillette Cup, a limited-overs competition introduced in 1963 to inject some enthusiasm in the game in England where the county championship was on the rocks thanks chiefly to falling attendances, did not in any way mean that one-day cricket would go international. That came about quite by accident. With rain ruling out any play in the scheduled third Test between England and Australia at Melbourne in January 1971, the match was abandoned and a one-day game (40 eight-ball overs a side) was played on January 5 as a sort of sop to the spectators. But the huge attendance (an estimated 46,000) not only surprised organisers but also proved that there was a market for the shorter version of the game. When Australia toured England in 1972, provision was made for three one-day matches between the two sides in preference to a sixth Test. Again the spectator response at Old Trafford, Lord's and Edgbaston, the venues for the matches, was so encouraging that the process was repeated when New Zealand and West Indies toured England in 1973 and India and Pakistan were the visitors the next year.

By now the game's administrators were fully alive to the extent of the popularity of limited overs cricket and the excitement it provided. Plans were charted out for a World Cup competition in 1975 to be played in England and once a sponsor - Prudential, an insurance company - had been acquired, things fell quickly into place. The inaugural global tournament was to be competed by the six-Test playing nations and two associate members Sri Lanka and East Africa and the competition was held between June 7 and 21. The teams were placed in two groups. While Pool A comprised England, India, New Zealand and East Africa, Pool B comprised West Indies, Australia, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. Matches were played on a 60-over basis and the format was that after the preliminary games, the top two teams from each group would meet in the semifinals.

There were thrills aplenty but few surprises in the initial stages. In group A, England mowed down all opposition. They first defeated India by 202 runs, then got the better of New Zealand by 80 runs and finally coasted to a 196-run victory over minnows East Africa. The second semifinalist from the group was decided after a rather close match between India and New Zealand that was ultimately won by the latter, the winning runs being scored in the penultimate over thanks principally to a splendid unbeaten 114 by Glenn Turner. India registered a ten-wicket victory over East Africa for their only win in the competition.

Things were much hotter in the other pool as could be expected with West Indies, Australia and Pakistan grouped together. West Indies won all their three matches but not before they encountered anxious moments against Pakistan. Indeed, West Indies at one times seemed on the ropes, for they were 166 for eight in reply to Pakistan's 266 for seven in the allotted 60 overs. But wicketkeeper Deryck Murray with the help of Vanburn Holder and Andy Roberts inched the Caribbeans towards their target that was overhauled with one wicket and two balls to spare in a truly sensational finish.

The eagerly awaited clash of the titans between Australia and the West Indies ended in a seven-wicket victory for the latter thanks mainly to a breathtaking assault by Kallicharran who took 35 off the last ten balls he received from Dennis Lillee, including four hits to the fence in a row. In an innings of 78, the left-hander hit a six and 13 fours, hooking and driving superbly.

And so to the semifinals where it was New Zealand vs West Indies and England vs Australia. West Indies, as expected, romped to a six-wicket victory with 19.5 overs to spare. And in the other match, a first-rate all-round performance by Gary Gilmour steered Australia to a four-wicket victory. First, the left-arm seamer took six for 14, as England were shot out for 93 in less than 37 overs. Then after Australia were 39 for six, Gilmour came in to get an unbeaten 28 and with Doug Walters (20 not out) shared in an unbroken seventh wicket association of 55 runs to see his team through to the final.

An Australia-West Indies title clash was what the pundits had predicted. And what a dramatic final it proved to be! It began at 11 am and ended at 8.43 pm. It was a thriller from start to finish. From the moment when Roy Fredericks trod on his wicket after hooking a bouncer from Lillee for a six - the moment is captured in a famous photograph by Patrick Eager - to the last defiant bat-swinging tenth-wicket partnership between Lillee and Jeff Thomson that constituted the final salvoes of a sinking battleship, the match had a capacity 26,000 Lord's crowd enthralled.

Put in to bat, West Indies were shakily placed at 50 for three but then Clive Lloyd and Rohan Kanhai raised the score by 149 runs in 36 overs. Kanhai, then in his 40th year, was out for 55, but Lloyd went on to get a memorable 102 off 85 balls with 12 fours and two sixes.

West Indies were ultimately able to post a challenging total of 291 for eight in 60 overs. It was always going to be a long haul for Australia from thereon. But they rose to the occasion with skipper Ian Chappell leading the way with 62. Useful contributions came from Doug Walters (35) and Alan Turner (40) but some fine work in the field, especially by Vivian Richards, resulted in a spate of run outs and Australia slipped to 233 for nine. Suspense was, however, maintained by Lillee and Thomson running the cheekiest of singles and making the odd bold hit. Amidst growing tension and excitement the last wicket pair added 41 before in the penultimate over, Thomson was run out - the fifth run out victim of the innings - and Australia were dismissed for 274. The pulsating match was the perfect advertisement for the one-day game and did much to lay the foundation for the success of future competitions. It is a game that is recalled with much fondness even today.