A brief history

England v West Indies: 1980-1995

Andrew McGlashan

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


The greatest over of all time? Geoff Boycott bowled by Michael Holding for 0 at Bridgetown in 1980-81 © Getty Images
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1980-81

West Indies' 1980s dominance over England began with this comfortable series victory although the tour was overshadowed by the death of England manager Ken Barrington after play on the second day at Bridgetown. It effectively become a four Test series following the abandonment in Guyana after the country refused to grant Robin Jackman a visa after he'd spent time in South Africa. As would become the trend for the next decade, and beyond, it was the West Indies bowling which made the difference. Michael Holding and Colin Croft were irresistible with Holding sending down his famous over to Geoff Boycott at Bridgetown. England were always on the back foot after a hammering in the opening match at Port of Spain, but some resilient performances by the batsmen prevented a complete obliteration. Peter Willey played bravely in Barbados then Boycott, along with some rain, helped England escape with a draw. Two courageous 150s - by Graham Gooch and David Gower - secured another share of the honours in the final Test in Antigua as Gower batted for more than seven-and-half hours.
Tests West Indies 2 England 0
ODIs West Indies 2 England 0

1984

Wisden Almanack | Cricinfo
A cricketing tour de force from West Indies and the first blackwash. Whatever challenge was laid down in front of them they swept aside with stunning skill, bravado and flair. The one occasion England managed to create the merriest hint of pressure was in the second Test at Lord's and Gower even had the audacity to declare...he soon regretted it. Sixty six overs later Gordon Greenidge was unbeaten on 214, Larry Gomes had 92 and the match was over. Greenidge enjoyed a memorable series, making 572 runs while Gomes helped himself to 400. The bowling was spearheaded by the fearsome duo of Malcolm Marshall and Joel Garner with 24 and 29 scalps respectively. England did have their moments, albeit few and far between, and Allan Lamb was the stand-out performer with three centuries in consecutive matches. Ian Botham produced one of his few bright moments against West Indies, claiming 8 for 103 at Lord's. The one-day series included one magical performance when Viv Richards played perhaps the greatest ODI innings, making 189 not out at Old Trafford while adding 106 for the final wicket with Holding.
Tests England 0 West Indies 5
ODIs England 1 West Indies 2

1985-86

Wisden Almanack | Cricinfo
Another famous blackwash made it two in a row with West Indies at the height of their powers. Never once did England push the home side, with the closest result being the small matter of a seven-wicket defeat in the second Test in Trinidad. With the cricket so one-sided England's exploits off the field - notably Botham's - became centre of attention and the tour was of more interest to the tabloids who filled their pages with revelations of the squads antics. On the field Marshall and Garner shared 52 wickets while none of the West Indies attack averaged over 25. In contrast John Emburey was England's best with 14 at 32 while they were also a distance second in the batting stakes. West Indies managed four centuries and four players averaged 50 or more; England's top score was 90 by Gower. The final Test at St Johns was lit up by Richards's 56-ball century, the fastest in Test cricket, as he pelted Emburey and Botham around the ground. West Indies made it 10 straight wins over England.
Tests West Indies 5 England 0
ODIs West Indies 3 England 1


Mike Gatting is hit by a bouncer by Malcolm Marshall during England's wretched 1985-86 tour © Getty Images
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1988

Wisden Almanack | Cricinfo
England were like lambs to the slaughter throughout a painful series and by the end were a rabble having used four captains and 23 players. Mike Gatting lasted one match as captain before being sacked as did Chris Cowdrey. A draw in the opening match at Trent Bridge was as good as it got against a rampant West Indies side. Marshall was at his lethal best, claiming 35 wickets a 12 in the series, and was well supported by Curtly Ambrose. The most crushing defeat came at Old Trafford, when England folded for 135 and 93 inside three days. Marshall astonishingly bowled despite a broken left hand and claimed 7 for 22 in the second innings. But despite being torn apart, England did finish with the leading batsman on either side as Gooch amassed 459 runs at 45. West Indies only managed one century, by Greenidge, but that was partly down to not needing many runs. Despite the Test hammering England claimed the one-dayers 3-0, but no one was pretending it altered the balance of power.
Tests England 0 West Indies 4
ODIs England 3 West Indies 0

1989-90

Wisden Almanack | Cricinfo
England came within a wet Trinidad day of moving into a scarcely believable 2-0 lead before West Indies found their form and blew them away twice at Bridgetown and St Johns. England, inspired by Angus Fraser and Devon Malcolm plus another of Lamb's memorable centuries against West Indies, won for just the second time in 36 years at Sabina Park. The second Test at Georgetown was abandoned without a ball bowled so the action moved to Trinidad and another absorbing encounter. Again England's four-pronged pace attack restricted the home side and when Malcolm ripped out the middle order second time around another famous win was on the cards. But rain on the final day made it a race against the clock while West Indies used every delaying tactic in the book. To compound England's problems Gooch's hand was broken by Ezra Moseley and he was ruled out for the remaining Tests. However, even without their leader England didn't give up and were moments away from salvaging a draw at Bridgetown, and securing at least a series draw, until Ambrose demolished the tail. Normal service was resumed in the final Test as England's spirit was finally broken with an innings defeat.
Tests West Indies 2 England 1
ODIs West Indies 3 England 0

1991

Wisden Almanack | Cricinfo
This was one of England's finest performances of the early 90s, sharing a series against a powerful West Indies team that still included some great names. The summer started well with a 3-0 cleansweep of the one-day series, inspired by outstanding efforts from Neil Fairbrother and England's Zimbabwe-born protégée, Graeme Hick. Gooch, still hurting from events in the Carribbean two years earlier, then played a captain's innings to end them all at Headingley. Seven-and-half hours and 331 balls later he was the last-man standing on 154, an innings rated by the current rankings system as the best ever. Chasing 278 West Indies didn't get close as England's motley crew of Malcolm, Derek Pringle, Steve Watkin and Phil DeFreitas completed victory. West Indies fought back with two wins meaning they went to The Oval 2-1 up. Botham returned while a raw left-arm spinner called Phil Tufnell was summoned and instigated a collapse which sent West Indies hurtling towards the follow on. Richie Richardson's century wasn't enough and Botham, in the match which created the "couldn't quite get his leg over" moment of commentary gold, hit the winning runs in a rare success against his major nemeses.
Tests England 2 West Indies 2
ODIs England 3 West Indies 0

1993-94



Brian Lara breaks the Test batting record at St Johns © Wisden Cricket Monthly
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Wisden Almanack | Cricinfo
Three moments of history defined this series; leading the way was Brian Lara's record 375 at St Johns, which followed on from England being skittled for 46 in Trinidad and recovering to win in Barbados. Controversially both Gooch and Gatting had been omitted following the 4-1 Ashes defeat the previous summer but Mike Atherton led from the front with courageous batting against Ambrose and Courtney Walsh. Two-nil down after two, England fought back as Andrew Caddick ran through West Indies' second innings at Port of Spain. But Hick dropped Shivnarine Chanderpaul then Ambrose took over. Atherton fell first ball of the innings; by the time he was out of the shower half the team was gone as England crashed to 40 for 8 on the fourth evening. Talk of a 1980s style blackwash was everywhere when the teams arrived at Bridgetown, but Alec Stewart became the first Englishman to hit two centuries in a match against West Indies. Fraser added eight wickets and as England cleaned-up on the final day. Yet the drama of the series wasn't over. Over two-and-half days in Antigua, Lara rewrote the record books as he beat Garry Sobers' 365. When he pulled Chris Lewis for four the ground was invaded, Sobers was there to congratulate Lara, and a legend was born.
Tests West Indies 3 England 1
ODIs West Indies 3 England 2

1995


Wisden Almanack | Cricinfo
This was a hard fought, closely contest, series between two well-matched teams which finished all-square as two featherbeds prevented positive results at Trent Bridge and The Oval. England punched above their weight to twice draw level while West Indies continued to show the early signs of their decline. It appeared a well-rehearsed script as West Indies, inspired by the return of Ian Bishop, swept to the first Test at Headingley. At Lord's, though, England located their backbone - and a new hero. Setting the tourists 296 they were carried to victory by Dominic Cork's 7 for 43, the best figures by an England bowler on debut. At Edgbaston the result was virtually decided when the first ball from Ambrose flew over Atherton's head, one bounce, into the boundary boards and it was all over before lunch on the third day. Again, though, England clawed back. At Old Trafford, Cork was the centre of attention with a vital half-century despite standing on his own stumps without anyone noticing. But the turning point was the fourth morning when Cork, in the day's opening over, claimed a hat-trick to set up England's six-wicket win. The final two matches were high-scoring draws dominated by Lara's flowing bat. Earlier in the summer Atherton guided his team to a 2-1 win in the one-day series with a stunning century at Lord's.
Tests England 2 West Indies 2
ODIs England 2 West Indies 1

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

Andrew McGlashan is a staff writer on Cricinfo

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Andrew McGlashan Assistant Editor Andrew arrived at ESPNcricinfo via Manchester and Cape Town, after finding the assistant editor at a weak moment as he watched England's batting collapse in the Newlands Test. Andrew began his cricket writing as a freelance covering Lancashire during 2004 when they were relegated in the County Championship. In fact, they were top of the table when he began reporting on them but things went dramatically downhill. He likes to let people know that he is a supporter of county cricket, a fact his colleagues will testify to and bemoan in equal quantities.
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