West Indies went through an arduous itinerary with little challenge to their authority. They won the six-Test series three-nil, which was as big a margin as any previous West Indian side had achieved in India, and made a clean sweep of the five one-day internationals, thus avenging their two shock defeats by India only a few months earlier in the Prudential World Cup in England. They won only one of their other six first-class fixtures, against a weak East Zone, but Central Zone and South Zone might also have been beaten had rain not interfered.
For the second consecutive series, Clive Lloyd was West Indies' main run getter. Beginning most of this Test innings in something of a crisis, and with the pitches seldom lending themselves to free strokeplay, Lloyd was not the robust, explosive player of old. He batted very circumspectly, but always very soundly, and averaged 82.66 in the Tests. It was a tribute to his character that, despite his 39 years and a nagging back problem, he buckled down to play one long innings after another.
Second to Lloyd in Test averages, although some way behind, was Jeffrey Dujon. The stylish Jamaican, who had to take up wicket-keeping to find a place in the West Indies side, made his runs with greater facility than any other batsman. Only once in seven Test innings did India dismiss him for fewer than 20 and he passed 50 four times. He played no small hand in the winning of the first and third Tests.
While Gordon Greenidge aggregated more Test runs than anyone but Lloyd, almost half of them came on his first outing of the series when, like Lloyd, he eschewed his strokes and waited for runs to come. Considering the limitations of India's attack, Vivian Richards might have played absolute havoc; but in the Tests he made only one hundred, which was by no means flawless, and passed 50 on only one other occasion.
Larry Gomes, though combative as ever, did not make the runs expected of him. Nor did Desmond Haynes. Of the two young batsmen in the side, Augustine Logie looked to be rather wanting in temperament, while Richie Richardson, after betraying uncertainty against spin, did not get more than one Test. Eldine Baptiste also had only a small taste of Test cricket, though he often made useful contributions with bat and ball in the zonal matches.
West Indies would not have gained their Test victories so comfortably had their fast bowlers, Malcolm Marshall, Michael Holding and Andy Roberts, not taken turns to play major innings. Marshall finished fourth in the batting averages, while, spearheading the attack, he also claimed 33 wickets to equal West Indies' record for a Test series. He and Holding, who took only three fewer wickets, always looked capable of turning the fortunes of a Test match in one spell. Holding was no less hostile for operating off a short run.
Roberts was dogged by injury and played only in the last two Tests. Instead, Wayne Daniel took his opportunity to make a forceful comeback to Test cricket after seven years. With Winston Davis also taking his fair share of wickets, West Indies had no cause to miss the injured Joel Garner. The dominance of the fast bowlers left only limited scope for Roger Harper, a specialist off-spinner and brilliant fielder.
By the end of the series, India had played 29 consecutive Tests without a victory, their longest barren stretch ever. Although West Indies were clearly the superior side, India's efforts suffered from poor planning and rigid selecting. Another principal reason for the disparity between the two sides was the total eclipse of Mohinder Amarnath, who had been India's batting mainstay during the previous winter. In five Tests in 1983-84, three against West Indies, he scored 12 runs. However, Sunil Gavaskar was back in his accustomed place as the leading India run-getter although his performances varied sharply. A third of the way through the series he told the selectors that he no longer relished going in first and it was when batting at No. 4 that he made 236 not out in the final Test, his 30th three-figure innings in Test cricket, which took him past Sir Donald Bradman's record. India's most consistent batsman in the early part of the series was Dilip Vengsarkar. There were also bold efforts from Ravi Shastri, Roger Binny and Syed Kirmani.
If India's batting was undependable, their bowling was hopelessly inadequate, even in helpful conditions. Only Kapil Dev, who took a record 29 wickets for India against West Indies, matched up to the standards of Test cricket, but because he lacked support West Indies were able time and again to make light of early reverses. Attendances at the Test matches were good, though only the fifth in Calcutta drew capacity crowds each day. Improved television coverage was thought to have affected the gates, but in proved less of a counter-attraction when it came to the one-day internationals. India's World Cup success could, it seemed, have altered the tastes of the cricket-watching public.
Test matches - Played 6: Won 3, Drawn 3.
First-class matches - Played 12: Won 4, Drawn 8.
Wins - India (3), East Zone.
Draws - India (3), Central Zone, South Zone, North Zone, Board President's XI, West Zone.
Non first-class matches - Played 7: Won 6, Drawn 1. Wins - India (5), Indian XI. Draw - Indian Under-22 XI.
Note: In all first-class matches, wides and no-balls were debited to the bowlers' analyses.
Match reports for
Central Zone v West Indians at Jaipur, Oct 4-6, 1983
South Zone v West Indians at Hyderabad (Deccan), Oct 8-10, 1983
North Zone v West Indians at Amritsar, Oct 15-17, 1983
Indian Board President's XI v West Indians at Nagpur, Nov 5-7, 1983
West Zone v West Indians at Kolhapur, Nov 19-21, 1983
East Zone v West Indians at Cuttack, Dec 3-5, 1983
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