January 29, 2015

'1983 was the biggest disappointment of my career'

Tony Cozier
Small chases are always tricky - even for two-time world champions against a team of no-hopers, as Joel Garner found out

An "overconfident" West Indies went down against India in the 1983 final © AllSport UK Ltd

It was a strange conversation.

As Joel Garner strolled off the Lord's outfield after India had been bowled out for 183 in the 1983 World Cup final, he asked an odd question of his fast bowler pal Malcolm Marshall. Marshall's reply was odder.

"I turned to Malcolm and said, 'Do you think you'll have to bat today?'" Garner recalls. "He came back with, 'Yeah, and you too.'

"I think he saw the look on my face. After all, he would bat at No. 8 and I was No. 10."

Marshall's explanation was straightforward: "You know when we chase small totals, everybody looks to the next person to finish the job," he reasoned. Marshall's forewarning and Garner's response - "In that case, well then, we've got a problem" - were prophetic.

Both did bat. Marshall was eighth out for 18, Garner was left unbeaten on 5. West Indies, champions of the first two tournaments, in 1975 and 1979, were all out for 140, a result that sent Garner and the last man, Michael Holding, dashing to the sanctuary of the dressing room to escape the jubilant swarm of onrushing Indian fans across Lord's hallowed turf.

It was a monumental upset, more staggering than any others in the ten World Cup finals. India had not made it past the group stage in 1975 and 1979; West Indies' only defeat in 17 previous cup matches was against India.

That it was in their first match of the tournament should have been cautionary. West Indies were 157 for 9 going after India's 262 for 8 before Garner and Andy Roberts saved some face with 71 for the last wicket. Even then it was regarded, not least by West Indies, as a mere blip on the record of the most formidable team in the game, especially after they won the return group match by 66 runs.

"Overconfidence is a hell of a thing," Garner says. "It was just that they took it for granted that they would make the 183."

"They" were the batsmen who fell one after the other to the underestimated Indian bowling - captain Kapil Dev, supported by a group of medium-paced swingers: Balwinder Sandhu, Madan Lal, Roger Binny and Mohinder Amarnath.

Fulfilling Marshall's prediction, Garner entered at 124 for 8, passing Marshall on the way back in, caught off Man of the Match Amarnath.

The outcome had a profound effect on West Indies players. Marshall wrote in his autobiography that they "had paid the ultimate price for an act of complacency". Captain Clive Lloyd acknowledged afterwards that his team had approached the small target "in a complacent manner", conceding that India had played better on the day. "They were perhaps mentally stronger," he said.

Garner was especially livid. In the victorious 1979 final, his 5 for 38 had followed Viv Richards' unbeaten 138 and Collis King's swashbuckling 86 from 66 balls against England.

"Afterwards, I went into the dressing room, packed my bags and went to the presentation," he relates. "I then went into the Tavern, had a few drinks and went back to the Westmoreland hotel that was just across the road."

"There must have been 5000 Indian fans there in the lobby with their cowbells and their music, taunting 'We beat you.' I said to myself, 'You mean I've got to put up with this?'"

I could empathise with him. It was close to 11pm when I filed the last of my reports back to the West Indies papers. The only place I could locate for a meal at that time was an Indian restaurant, by then raucous with the joy of the victory. When I did manage to get a table, Farrokh Engineer, with whom I had shared commentary on BBC's radio coverage, was a few feet away with his entourage. I couldn't escape the same taunts to which Garner was subjected at the team's hotel.

Indian fans swarm Lord's after the win © PA Photos

In his disappointment, Lloyd held himself responsible. There was a feeling that he should not have played after pulling a muscle that kept him off the field for much of the semi-final against Pakistan three days earlier. He aggravated it once more batting in the final, requiring Desmond Haynes as his runner. He chose the after-match function, prearranged by the West Indies board, certainly in the expectation of a celebration, to announce his resignation as captain.

The occasion had already been transformed into a wake. It was the second shock to the players within a few hours. It took persuasion from board president Allan Rae, the opening batsman of the 1950s, and some of the senior players for Lloyd to reconsider his decision. He changed his mind the next day.

No one on the team was more crestfallen than Garner, who returned to his English county, Somerset, and brooded over the manner of the loss. "For a long time, two or three months, I wouldn't talk to any of my team-mates," he admits. "I would say that the World Cup 1983 was the biggest disappointment in terms of my cricket career."

The full tour of India at the end of the year went some way to avenging those embarrassed by the World Cup defeat. They won all five one-day internationals, by then 50 rather than 60 overs an innings, and the six-Test series 3-0.

There was a solitary sorry exception. Garner couldn't get his own back. He was injured and had to follow the series from back home in Barbados. By the time the next World Cup came along, in India and Pakistan four years later, he had retired from international cricket.

Tony Cozier has written about and commentated on cricket in the Caribbean for 50 years

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dummy4 on February 5, 2015, 9:28 GMT

    Joel Garner would be my pick to bowl the death overs for an all time ODI team (probably with Wasim Akram at the other end). Great bowler, especially in ODI's, and massively underestimated, because of the players he bowled with. A mixture of back of a length, rising sharply into the ribs, and toe crushing yorkers coming up!

  • Sanjay on January 31, 2015, 7:37 GMT

    Indian team might have been "no hopers" at the beginning of the tournament but any team that reaches the final doesn't deserve to be called that. It was a folly on the part of over confident WI team that cost them the 1983 world cup.

  • kannan on January 30, 2015, 14:54 GMT

    The condescending tone in this article leaves a sour taste. Team of "no hopers", really Tony? But have to say that I am not surprised - having listened to his insipid, disparaging commentary for decades now and it's pretty obvious why he is still nursing his "grouch". The windies are done, Tony. Find another team to support.

  • Vinod on January 30, 2015, 0:39 GMT

    In your own words "The full tour of India the end of the year went some way to avenging those embarrassed by the World Cup defeat" the words 'avenging'&'embarassed'- when 2teams play, one wins &the other doesn't, they move on from there,its the media withsuch words thatstir up thepublic. The windies got to the final of '83 , everyone-including indian team &fans-were singularin saying that Windies werenear invincible& the team to beat&as such were fullof respect 4them..the Windies werenot Embarassed in '83 final-& the subsequent tour&victory in india wasnot 'avenging'.If that was the case, every match, ball, instance iseitheran embarrassment or avenging.Lets leave the whinging aside&celebrate& enjoy the game we love inthe bestofspirits without the cheap vitriol.I would request ESPNcricinfo to publish this, I doubt if it will....:)

  • Robin on January 29, 2015, 21:12 GMT

    I was there...I was there...!!!! Not the final but the first match at Old Trafford. Finished on day 2 and there were only about 250 people around. I'll never forget the 6's Garner hit BUT beter still was the Indian victory. ps.I was there for Sandeep Patil's six 4's in an over against Willis the year before.

  • Ajaya Kumar on January 29, 2015, 19:55 GMT

    While there can be no doubt that Westindies were a far superior team to the Indians, i think calling Indian team of 1983 a bunch of "no hopers" is a little unfair. They were definitely not the favorites, but they did reasonably well in most matches including defeating westindies at group stage. They did win against other strong teams like Australia and England as well. Their team was average both in bowling and batting departments, but they made most of the conditions and performed decently through out the tournament. Nobody can win world cup (i mean the whole tournament, not just the final) in a freak manner.

  • Suresh on January 29, 2015, 17:35 GMT

    This World Cup also showed it is not the penetrating bowling, but accurate gentle medium pace is what a team needs. And also India had five all rounders. This World Cup changed one day cricket, in some way. And this final also showed any team can be beaten on a given day. This has been repeated many times in the World Cup since. Bangladesh taking down India, Ireland taking down Pakistan, and so on. That is what makes one day cricket exciting.

  • Alex on January 29, 2015, 17:09 GMT

    I firmly believe it was leadership and team unity won it for india in 1983. Kapil Dev rallied bunch of no body bowlers into assasins of accurate swing bowling and terrific fielding. Clive loyd was the culpirit here not West Indies bowlers. He did not motivate his team enough. He probably thought Richards save the game for West Indies.

  • Edwin on January 29, 2015, 15:55 GMT

    Garner retired in 1987 a few months before the 1987 WC started, at the age of 34. Considering how WI struggled in the bowling department in that tournament - Marshall was injured and Holding also had retired at 32, I`m surprised he, nor Holding didn`t make a comeback to avenge the `83 defeat.

  • AMIT on January 29, 2015, 15:39 GMT

    @alam khan, learn to pay respect where it is due. Although everybody had taken the Windies victory for granted, that it didn't happen is a fact. Although the Windies were complacent at their own peril they had to face a super effort from a team that had nothing to lose and everything to gain. As for your ending statement in your comment, I think either you do not follow cricket or choose to be oblivious of the facts and stats as Kapil Dev has been and would not only be one of the greatest all rounders of all time but a bowling legend as well. Add to that India's spin quartet.

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