A brief history

England v West Indies: 1960-1980

1928-1960 | 1960-1980 | 1980-1995 | 1995-2011

Garry Sobers is introduced to the Queen on the first day of the 1963 Lord's Test © Getty Images


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With the growing Caribbean population of Britain supporting their every deed, the 1963 touring West Indians were arguably the most popular to have visited England. Lance Gibbs' 11 wickets set up a crushing 10-wicket win in the first Test at Old Trafford - West Indies' first win at the ground. The second, one of the most memorable Lord's has hosted, galvanised the nation: a thrilling epic ending, rather fittingly, in a draw. With England needing six to win, West Indies just the single wicket, in strode Colin Cowdrey with a broken arm with just two balls remaining but the ask was too great. England levelled the series at Edgbaston courtesy of Fred Trueman's 12 for 119, but Charlie Griffith's Test-best 6 for 36 (and a golden allround effort from Garry Sobers) took West Indies into a lead at Headingley. The series finale at The Oval, Britain's Caribbean hotbed, was a memorable affair as Conrad Hunte's 108 led West Indies as they successfully chased down 253. The pitch was invaded by thousands of West Indians to end a raucously supported series.
England 1 West Indies 3


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West Indies weren't as dominant as three years previously, but England were limp. Sobers was effectively three men in one: his batting audacious and consistent; his bowling hostile and economical and alive in the field. In the five Tests he scored 722 runs, with three hundreds, a 94 and an 81, together with 20 wickets. If he had luck along the way, it came at the toss: he won all five. England twice crumbled to Gibbs (10 for 106) in the first Test on an equally crumbly Old Trafford pitch. A draw at Lord's preceded Basil Butcher's excellent 209 at Trent Bridge (though England managed to drop him five times), giving West Indies a 2-0 lead going into the fourth Test. It was Sobers' Test: a bristling 174 in the first innings was followed by 5 for 41 in England's first dig, and another three in their second. England came back strongly for the final Test, aided by a record last-wicket stand between John Snow and Ken Higgs, but it was too little, too late.
England 1 West Indies 3


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A successful tour for England and for Colin Cowdrey who expertly led a disciplined side under trying circumstances, winning the five-match series 1-0, but their win was blighted by riots, showcasing an ugly side of West Indies cricket - though the hooliganism was at times prompted by a succession of poor umpiring decisions. One such decision - Sang Hue's in the second Test to dismiss Basil Butcher as West Indies battled to avoid the follow-on - caused a bottle-throwing riot. The police released tear gas in an attempt to calm the crowd, but the wind blew it into the pavilion forcing the game into a sixth day. In the face of such disharmony, Cowdrey's leadership was inspirational - as was his batting. His brilliant 148 in the first innings of the fourth Test at Port-of-Spain was followed by a brisk 71 as England chased down 215 in the 53rd over, gaining a series-lead. And having won the series, England were then attacked while leaving the ground in Guyana after the final Test to end an ugly tour.
West Indies 0 England 1

Ugly scenes in Jamaica during the 1967-68 series © The Cricketer


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West Indies were a side on the wane coming to the end of an era, and the decision to offer them a shortened series of three Tests did not go down well either. As it was, they were always second best, and it was the failure of Sobers which cost them most. Eighteen months of near continuous cricket with West Indies and Nottinghamshire took its toll, draining his love for the game, and it showed with just 432 runs in 15 innings on the tour. After Geoff Boycott's 128 had set up England's 413 in the first Test at Old Trafford, Snow and David Brown blew away West Indies for 147 who were little better at the second attempt. A draw followed at Lord's, with England unable to chase down 61 in 10 overs, but they wrapped up the series in a tense series finale at Headingley. Needing 303 West Indies were propelled toward victory by Butcher's thrilling 91. But he, Sobers and Clive Lloyd all fell inside 16 minutes and England were home by 30 runs. It was the first time England had won two Tests in a series against the West Indies since 1957.
England 2 West Indies 0


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Sobers had stated before the tour that he would prefer to stay with Nottinghamshire for the entire season, as a consequence of the knee operation he was recovering from. But injuries in the squad forced his recall and he was instrumental to their success. Keith Boyce, benefiting from his experiences with Essex, blitzed England in the first Test at The Oval with 11 for 147, although Frank Hayes's hundred on debut offered England some solace. The second Test at Edgbaston was drawn, though it was notable for the umpire, Arthur Fagg, threatening to withdraw from the match when Rohan Kanhai remonstrated against a decision. Kanhai let his bat do the talking in the final Test at Lord's though, with a brilliant 157, with Sobers stroking 150 and Bernard Julien a bristling 121, leading led West Indies to 652. Twin fifties from Keith Fletcher delayed the inevitable, and he remained unbeaten on 86 in England's second innings capitulation of 193. Roy Fredericks's 105 in the second one-dayer levelled the series to 1-1 after England won a nail-biter in the first by one wicket.
Tests: England 0 West Indies 2
ODIs: England 1 West Indies 1


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Under a new captain - the inexperienced Mike Denness - England, who had been thrashed by West Indies the previous summer, were expected to fare little better, and a seven-wicket defeat in the opening Test at Trinidad seemed to herald another one-sided series. That game was also marked by controversy when Tony Greig ran out Alvin Kallicharran on the second night, triggered protests, emergency meetings and the batsman's reinstatement. The next two Tests followed the same pattern with West Indies amassing massive scores, including 302 from lawrence Rowe in Barbados, and England staging rearguards to salvage draws. The fourth match at Georgetown was spoilt by rain after Garry Sobers had been picked but failed to turn up. In the final Test back in Trinidad, Geoff Boycott made 99 and 112 and Greig, who turned to offspin as opposed to his usual seamers, took 8 for 86 and 5 for 70 as West Indies, chasing 226, slid from 63 for 0 to 85 for 5, eventually losing by 26 runs. It was to be England's last win in the Caribbean for 16 years. Dennis Amiss, who ended 1974 breaking the record for the most Test runs in a calendar year, scored 663 runs at 82.87 while Greig's 24 wickets cost 22.62. The series marked the end for Sobers.
England 1 West Indies 1

Viv Richards on his way to 291 at The Oval in 1976 © Getty Images


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The year of Viv Richards. In a scorching hot English summer he battered 829 in four Tests, top-scoring with a masterful 291 at The Oval and hitting two further hundreds and a pair of fifties. After the first two Tests were drawn, West Indies showed no signs of the rustiness which many feared before the tour. Michael Holding's memorable 5 for 17 destroyed England in the third Test at Old Trafford - Andy Roberts doing the damage in their second dig with 6 for 37 - in a match remembered for a brutal Saturday-evening pace onslaught on John Edrich and Brian Close, England's forty-something openers. West Indies further proved their superiority in the fourth at Headingley, in spite of Tony Greig finding form. Chasing 260 on a very fine pitch, England faltered disastrously to Roberts, Holding and Wayne Daniel who each took three wickets apiece. Holding again did the damage in the fifth and final match at The Oval. Following Richards's savage 291, England collapsed to 203 chasing 435 with Holding taking 14 for 149 on a featherbed. It was his third five-wicket haul in a summer which brought him 28 wickets at just 12.71. Tony Greig had infamously predicted at the start of the summer he would make West Indies "grovel". By the end of the one-sided series, he was the one on his knees.
Tests: England 0 West Indies 3
ODIs: England 0 West Indies 3

1928-1960 | 1960-1980 | 1980-1995 | 1995-2011

Will Luke is a staff writer on Cricinfo