Players from the champion sides relive their World Cup journeys

'We broke down a lot of barriers'

1979, part four: Viv Richards talks about Collis King's brilliant innings, Joel Garner's devastating spell, and what the win meant to the team (00:00)

January 31, 2011


'We broke down a lot of barriers'

January 31, 2011

Viv Richards and Collis King take a breather during their stand of 139 in 21 overs, West Indies v England, Lord's, June 23, 1979
Viv Richards and Collis King put on 139 in 21 overs in the final Patrick Eagar / © Wisden Cricket Monthly

We knew most of the English players, anyway. They had some very destructive players in that team. They had Mike Brearley and Geoff Boycott as openers. They had Ian Botham, who was pretty destructive. You had David Gower, a class act, and many others in that team who were capable of doing well. England were playing at home, and we all know how passionate English fans are.

Collis [King] is a great character. He is one of my favourite individuals, not just as a cricketer, as a man. Collis has one of these don't-care sort of attitude but he was still very strong and firm. There is no use in telling him to cool down or whatever. When we were 99 for 4, I can remember Collis came in and just the way he started to belt the ball to all parts of the park. I began to tell him "Hey Kingdom, hey you can get three figures in this match. Try and hold on and you can do it." He ignored everything I said. And I am glad he did it his way. His way was satisfactory to me watching from the other end, the team in the dressing room, and all our fans. It took an enormous amount of pressure off me. I was clutching on a little bit early on, and then all of a sudden this guy comes in and he was slacking them all over the park. He made it so much easier. When he got out in the 80s the platform was already set. A lot of folks felt that I was too proud to let someone else take over, but this was all about the team, this wasn't about Viv Richards. I thought I taught them something that day, about what the team is all about. It wasn't about the aggressive style when someone is going hard at the other end, so that the guy does it in style. Anybody who has seen the video of that final would see I was halfway to the pavilion smacking my bat saying, "Well done, mate." I ran back to my batting position with a feeling of being revived, being strong. What I just said, I was going to finish it, and it worked out perfectly well in the end. At the end, when he left, he set things up in such a way that there was no way I was not going to reach the three figures. It was a tribute to him, and a great tribute to the team.

When you are in the World Cup final and you are hundred and whatever not out, and it is the last ball of the World Cup - the captain has given you the license to hit that anywhere you like. There was little thought that was put into it - the boundary towards the Tavern side of Lord's was shorter. Mike Hendricks normally bowled fuller length. I knew even if I clipped it, it would have crossed the boundary. He did not get his length right, and it pitched full, but I still had to get over the off stump and clip it, it went for a six. I was like "wow". I would've liked that to be the shot to win.

With runs on board we felt confident. You never know if it is going to be good enough until the end. But because of the previous scores before, what were good winning totals, we felt that 286 for the final, with all the pressure and nerves, would have been enough for us to hold that trophy for the second time.

Brearley and Boycott started well but at 129 for 0 after 38 overs it looked an attractive platform. But they were two similar style players who would use the pace of the ball. That aggression required at that point was not there. I can remember I bowled to Boycott and Clive dropped Boycott. I was wondering how he could do it. But he winked at me which said "Viv, you are not reading between the lines." Then I got on board once I understood the strategy to keep the England openers cold.

We should have had two Man of the Matches in the final because you can't get five wickets in the final and not get the award. Joe [Garner] was deadly with his yorkers and short-of-the-length deliveries. At one point he had 5 for 4. At 6ft 8in, for him to be jumping and returning and on fire was a little bit too much for some of the English batsmen.

What I know for sure is that Dom Perignon and all the grades of champagne that one could drink, made their way. We did a good job. We had the next day to unwind and be in the bed to just reflect on what took place the previous day. Yes, so the Don Perignon did come in to play, not forgetting few of the rums from around the region. They were also heavily advertised. It was marvellous, couldn't get any better than that.

To have played a part twice, run-outs in the 1975 World Cup and coming good with the bat in 1979, I felt, "Wow, I have arrived. I have made a contribution to the mighty West Indies." That's how some folks looked at the West Indies team then, as a very powerful unit which broke down a lot of barriers. Words just can't describe how you felt about that collective performance. You are revered when you went home. We came back to Antigua and Barbuda, Andy Roberts and myself were from the same island. They rolled out the red carpet, what they would do for the Royal Highness, Queen Elizabeth. It can't get any better than that. Folks sometimes think that we haven't achieved this, or we haven't done that. But this was a wonderful achievement. We were the best in the world during that period, and it can't get better than that.

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