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Big Bird sinks England

Martin Williamson
After England's openers had batted too slowly, Joel Garner destroyed the middle order and ensured West Indies retained the World Cup
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Joel Garner
5 for 38 v England, final, 1979

West Indies were the odds-on favourites to retain their World Cup crown when they took on England in the second final at Lord's in June 1979. They survived an early wobble to post 286 for 9, thanks to Viv Richards' magnificent 138. In reply, England reached 183 for 2, but Mike Brearley and Geoff Boycott had taken up almost two-thirds of the 60 overs in a first-wicket stand of 129, and the required rate was creeping towards double figures.

In the 48th over, Joel Garner came back for his second spell from the Nursery End. At the best of times he was hard to play, because at 6'8" his arm was coming from high above the sightscreen and out of the trees above the stands. Add into that late-afternoon gloom and the ask became almost impossible. "We were grateful to England for their tactics," Garner recalled, "by the time they [the openers] were gone it would have taken a superhuman effort to retrieve the situation."

Instead, the superhuman effort came from Garner. His line and length were immaculate from the first ball, as he fired in a succession of spearing yorkers. He immediately bowled Graham Gooch (who had added a frantic 48 with Derek Randall) for 32 and then three balls later, blasted through David Gower's defence. Colin Croft bowled Randall, and then Ian Botham aimed to smash his third ball out of the ground with Richards holding a brilliant running catch at long-on in front of the Tavern.

In the next over, Garner ruthlessly and brilliantly polished off what remained of England's tail, bowling Wayne Larkins and Chris Old for ducks and then, with the last ball of his 11th over, having Bob Taylor caught behind, also for 0. In 11 balls, he had taken 5 for 4, and England had lost their last eight wickets for 11 runs. "Garner broke the back," Clive Lloyd said. "It was just wonderful."

As West Indies celebrated, Garner, who finished with 5 for 38, the best in a World Cup final, took off his size-15 boots and hurled them from the dressing-room balcony into the massed fans in front of the pavilion.

Martin Williamson is executive editor of ESPNcricinfo and managing editor of ESPN Digital Media in Europe, the Middle East and Africa

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