West Indies retain their title
World Cup No. 2
Minnows Canada, Sri Lanka (not a Test nation until 1982)
Format As 1975
Innovations The minor teams emerged from a qualifying competition - the inaugural ICC Trophy, won by Sri Lanka. Australia handicapped themselves by selecting a largely unknown team (remember Graham Porter or Jeff Moss?) as their best players were still contracted to Kerry Packer's World Series Cricket. West Indies and Pakistan, fearing ructions at home if they fared badly, chose all their WSC players. By the following winter, peace had broken out and all the Packer men were back in the fold.
Early running West Indies topped their group with two wins and a no-result against Sri Lanka, who upset India by 47 runs at Old Trafford. New Zealand, with a strong hand of medium-pacers who could bat a bit, qualified with comfortable wins over Sri Lanka and India before running West Indies close (32 runs) at Trent Bridge. England breezed past Australia and bowled out Canada for 45, before pipping Pakistan, the other qualifiers from that group, in a low-scoring match at Headingley. The only century in the group games was Gordon Greenidge's 106* for West Indies v India at Edgbaston.
The semis Mike Brearley (53 in 115 balls) and Graham Gooch (71 from 84) held England's innings together after early wickets against New Zealand at Old Trafford. Chasing 221, John Wright (69 from 137) did a similar job before he was run out. NZ had lots of allrounders - but still fell nine runs short. West Indies ran up 293 for 6 at The Oval, but were sweating as Majid Khan (81) and Zaheer Abbas (93) shared a sparkling stand of 166. But Pakistan subsided to 250; the middle-order destroyer was Viv Richards, with 3 for 52. West Indies were in the final again.
The final It took a lot to upstage a brilliant Richards century, but Collis King managed it. In his finest hour (77 minutes, actually, but no-one was counting) King blasted 86 for 66 balls, clouting ten fours and three sixes. Richards ended the innings by walking across his stumps and flicking Hendrick into the Mound Stand for six: 286 for 9. In reply England's openers put on 129 - but too slowly, using up more than half the available overs. Brearley made 64 from 130 balls and Boycott 57 from 103. With Larkins at No. 7, it was a strong batting side ... but they had too much to do, as Joel Garner (5 for 38) zeroed in on the base of the stumps, and 183 for 2 turned into 194 all out.
Last hurrah Majid Khan's 81 in the semi-final - made under one of his father's old straw hats - was his last World Cup innings. It was farewell World Cup, too, for Asif Iqbal, who captained Pakistan in the first two competitions although he hadn't then skippered them in Tests. For England, Boycott and Brearley, Old and Taylor weren't there next time round. Apart from captain Kim Hughes and a handy-looking leftie (AR Border) the only Australian who resurfaced was fast man Rodney Hogg. Canada weren't seen again for 24 years, either.
First hurrah Croft and Garner joined Holding and Roberts in the champions' awesome attack. Greenidge and Haynes posted 106 together in the first match - the first of their 15 century stands in ODIs. Border (see above) played in the first of his four World Cups, as did Gooch, John Wright, and Kapil Dev.
Not to be forgotten England's unlikely bowling secret weapon was Geoff Boycott, bowling his little medium-pacers round the wicket, with cap reversed. He took 2 for 15 v Australia, and 2 for 14 at the death against Pakistan, when he lured Sikander Bakht into a brainless swipe while Imran Khan was winning the game at the other end. This persuaded England to pick four recognised bowlers for the later games. Boycott even took a wicket in the semi-final, but the plan unravelled in the final itself - the 12 overs England cobbled together from part-timers Boycott, Gooch and Larkins cost 86.