February 13, 2003

The West Indies juggernaut rolls on - 1979

The West Indian juggernaut just rolled over the opposition four years later. For the 1979 World Cup, the Caribbeans had an even stronger team. The batting still revolved round Clive Lloyd, Gordon Greenidge, Vivian Richards and Alvin Kallicharran, while Desmond Haynes had replaced Roy Fredericks at the top of the order. But the bowling had become much stronger with a string of fearsome fast bowlers in Andy Roberts, Michael Holding, Joel Garner and Colin Croft. In addition, they had an exciting all-rounder in Collis King. With this array of talent and experience, they proved too strong and their retention of the title came as no surprise at all.

Clive Lloyd
There was no change in the format and as in 1975 the eight teams were place in two groups. Pool A featured the West Indies, New Zealand, India and Sri Lanka while pool B comprised England, Pakistan, Australia and Canada. Sri Lanka and Canada had qualified for the competition by finishing winners and runners-up in the newly constituted ICC Trophy for associate members.

Not unexpectedly, West Indies topped their group with victories over India (by nine wickets) and New Zealand (by 32 runs). But Sri Lanka became the first team to get points against the West Indies when their match at the Oval was abandoned because of rain.

Once again New Zealand beat India by eight wickets with three overs to spare to gain the second semifinalists berth from the pool. And India then plumbed the depths by going down to Sri Lanka by 47 runs in their final league encounter. This was a truly embarrassing defeat that augmented the theory that India had still to come to terms with the intricacies of limited overs cricket.

England and Pakistan were the favourites to qualify for the semifinals from group B with Australia being weakened considerably thanks to defections to Kerry Packer's World Series Cricket. That was the way it turned out after a closely-contested game between the two that decided the pool placings. England after being 118 for eight scrambled to a total of 165 for nine in 60 overs after Bob Taylor and Bob Willis added 43 runs for the ninth wicket. A spell of four wickets for three runs in eight balls by Mike Hendrick saw Pakistan reeling at 31 for six. Asif Iqbal, however, counter attacked and played splendidly for his 51.

But Pakistan fell 14 runs short of the England total. Earlier, England had shot out Canada for 45, still the lowest total in the World Cup and till 1992-93 the lowest in all one-day internationals.

Vivian Richards
© CricInfo
Even if they went according to form, the semifinals were not without thrills. New Zealand ran England pretty close before losing by nine runs while chasing a target of 222. Pakistan in the face of an imposing West Indian total of 293 for six did not throw in the towel easily and replied boldly.

Majid Khan (81) and Zaheer Abbas (93) added 166 runs for the second wicket and at 176 for one, Pakistan seemed to be in with a chance even if the overs were running out. But then Croft and Richards got among the wickets and Pakistan were bowled out for 250.

The 1979 final was not as closely fought as the title clash four years ago but it was marked by one great hundred by the peerless Richards, some big hitting by Collis King and a destructive spell by Garner. It was fitting that the West Indies should provide all the highlights for they dominated the match throughout, as the final margin of 92 runs will illustrate.

A sell-out crowd of 25,000 was witness to England enjoying the ascendancy in the initial stages, reducing the West Indies to 99 for four. But then Richards and King initiated a recovery process that ended in a blaze of glory. In putting together a partnership of 139 runs in 21 overs, both batsmen did pretty much what they liked with the bowling, which to be candid was pretty mediocre. With Willis injured, England had gambled on an extra batsman and that meant they had only four specialist bowlers with the likes of Geoff Boycott, Wayne Larkins and Graham Gooch having to do more than their fair share of the work.

Needless to say, Richards and King were not complaining! The 12 overs shared by the three went for 86 runs. King scored 86 while Richards remained unbeaten with a breath-taking 138, his last-ball six off Hendrick being talked about even today.

The final total of 286 for nine in 60 overs was imposing enough but Boycott and Mike Brearley made England's task even tougher. True, they raised 129 for the first wicket but they consumed 38 overs in doing so. That left the remaining batsmen with the job of getting 158 off the final 22 overs. This was never really on particularly with `Big Bird' Joel Garner in devastating form. The 6' 8" Garner just ripped through the order with a spell of five wickets for four runs in 11 balls. He finished with five for 38 as England were bowled out for 194 in 51 overs and Lord's again resembled a carnival day in Port of Spain.