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The eleventh West Indian side to visit England, excluding those that did so in 1975 and 1979 for the Prudential Cup, were prevented by the weather from achieving a record to compare with those of some of the great Australian touring parties. Even so, they won their five county matches and they had the better of all five Test matches, although, with rain constantly intervening, they were able to win only one of them.
Of the sixteen players, captained as in 1976 in England by Clive Lloyd, only Bacchus had not been a member, the previous winter, of the victorious West Indian side in Australia. There was, however, a change of manager. Clyde Walcott, the great West Indian batsman and manager of the 1976 side, took the place of Willie Rodriguez, whose control of the West Indian players when they visited New Zealand on their way home from Australia has left something to be desired.
As in Australia, the West Indian bowling was left almost exclusively to their formidable quintet of pacemen - Croft, Garner, Holding, Marshall and Roberts. Their only specialist spinner, Derek Parry, from the little island of Nevis, was not chosen for a Test match. As a result, the West Indian over-rate seldom topped fourteen an hour and came in for much criticism. Not that Mr Walcott, nor Lloyd for the matter, was worried by this. Their philosophy was to choose those whom they considered to be their best bowlers, rather than to concern themselves with balancing their attack or bowling more balls to the hour.
For England's batsmen there was no respite from bowlers operating off long runs and often pitching the ball fearsomely short. When, towards the end of the tour, Garner, Croft and Roberts were handicapped by injury, runs came more easily to England, and in two Test matches West Indies were denied victories they might have achieved with a full side. Nevertheless Lloyd's side remained one of the hardest to beat that can ever have visited England.
In addition to the unrelenting nature of their attack, they fielded brilliantly and batted with a blend of daring and discretion that has only recently been the case with West Indian sides. With their ever-widening experience of cricket in different parts of the world, West Indian batsmen cope much better now with the moving ball. This was clearly shown in the first Test when in extravagantly English conditions, with the ball swinging prodigiously, West Indies gained the one decisive victory of the series. Little was it thought at the time that upon the thrilling finish at Trent Bridge would hang the destiny of the Wisden Trophy.
It must also be said that after the West Indians had blotted their copybook in New Zealand, their behaviour both on and off the field was unexceptionable. If at time fast bowlers pitched persistently short and took too long to bowl their overs, the umpires, though empowered to intervene, never did so as if they meant it. Although much was made at one time of a supposed feud between Vivian Richards and England's opening bowler Willis, the players concerned vehemently denied that there was one. Between the West Indians and the majority of sides they met there existed many friendships struck up over the years in English county cricket.
The sponsorship of Holt Lloyd Ltd, makers of motoring accessories, has vested the matches between touring teams and the counties with a new interest. The time came, a few years ago, when counties would rest their over-worked players rather than put out their full side against the touring team. Now, with sizeable sums of money to be won by the winners of each match, and a jackpot of £100,000 available to the West Indians should they win all their three-day county games, interest grew as Lloyd and his eager players started with successive victories over Worcestershire, Leicestershire, Northamptonshire, Derbysire and Kent. As was always likely, the English climate beat them in the end - but not until mid-June, at Hove. None the less the West Indians went through the tour unbeaten except in two limited-overs matches - against Essex at Chelmsford and against England in the second of the two Prudential internationals.
The fast bowlers, the side's bodyguards, owed much to Mr Denis Waight, the physiotherapist whose searching programme of physical exercises kept them fit from the start of their Australian tour in November 1979 until most of the way through their tour of England. From his great height of 6ft 9in Joel Garner achieved an accuracy and steepness of lift which made him at once the team's most economical and effective bowler. Though a shade less rhythmical, and therefore less irresistibly fast, than in 1976, Michael Holding was still a fine performer, at his best in short spells.
Malcolm Marshall, the slightest of the fast bowlers, was capable, owing to his lissomness and sense of timing, of as much pace as any. A fine all-round fielder and a useful batsman he looks to have a bright future. After a slow start to the tour, Colin Croft secured a Test place. He and Holding took to bowling round the wicket at Boycott, a fierce tactic which not surprisingly unsettled England's chief run-getter. Until his back let him down Roberts, at 29 the oldest of the five fast men, bowled extremely effectively and with fine control.
In county matches Parry did well enough with his off-breaks to suggest that, given the chance, he would make an adequate Test bowler. The rest of the bowling was insignificant. Collis King, seldon fully fit, had a disappointing tour, and Richards, the only spinner in the Test side, took but a single wicket in his 68 first-class overs on the tour. It was of little encouragement to England's batsmen, present or future, to know that besides the fast bowlers in the touring party there were others playing in English county cricket, such as Daniel of Middlesex and Clarke of Surrey, who were equally effective.
If the West Indian batting lacked the depth of other years the presence of Richards, the world's greatest player, was an inspiration to the side. There seldom seemed much reason for him not to make a large and entertaining score, and his runs came so fast that he could be given, by way of a rest, a lower place in the order and still have time to make a telling contribution. It would be hard to overpraise Richards, either for the brilliance with which he bats or the spirit in which he plays the game.
In spite of missing several matches, including one Test, with an injured hand - and also pulling a hamstring - Lloyd remained a major batting force. As a captain he had the respect due to a father figure. Kallicharran, though as neat as ever, was less effective than in the past. Of the two batsmen on their first full tour of England, Faoud Bacchus and Desmond Haynes, the latter made the greater impact. In the first two Tests he displayed a fierce self-discipline, his 62 in the second innings of the first Test winning the day for West Indies and his 184 in the second Test being the highest Test score ever made by a West Indian at Lord's. Haynes is another in the unending line of vastly gifted Barbadian batsmen. Bacchus, a Guyanese, was always taking the eye in the field and batted with a confidence which was invariably exciting and occasionally disastrous. He, too, is a talented stroke-player.
After his three successive Test centuries in England in 1976, Gordon Greenidge had a comparatively poor series, while Lawrence Rowe, the maker of a treble-hundred against England at Bridgetown in 1973-74, was again dogged by injury. When Rowe returned home towards the end of the tour, Timur Mohamed, a Guyanese playing as professional with Suffolk, joined the touring party. Deryck Murray, at 37 one of the game's most senior players, was kept in the Test side more for his knack of making useful runs at number seven than for his wicket-keeping, which was not always tidy. The ability of Garner, Holding and Roberts, as well as Marshall, to make runs meant that the Test side had no tail to speak of.
When the tour ended West Indies had lost only one of their eleven Test matches since returning to full strength after the disbanding of World Series Cricket; that by one wicket against New Zealand in Dunedin. In England in 1980 they did much to enliven a dismal summer and attracted good crowds wherever they played.
Test matches - Played 5: Won 1, Drawn 4.
First-class matches - Played 16: Won 8, Drawn 8
Wins - England, Derbyshire, Gloucestershire, Kent, Leicestershire, Northamptonshire, Worcestershire, Yorkshire.
Draws - England (4), Glamorgan, Somerset, Sussex, Warwickshire.
Non first-class matches v Played 12: Won 8, Lost 2, Drawn 2. Wins - England, Essex, Glamorgan, Ireland, Lavinia Duchess of Norfolk's XI, Middlesex, Oxford and Cambridge Universities, Scotland. Losses - England, Essex. Draws - Ireland, Minor Counties.
Match reports for
Tour Match: Duchess of Norfolk's Invitation XI v West Indians at Arundel, May 8, 1980
Tour Match: Worcestershire v West Indians at Worcester, May 10-12, 1980
Tour Match: Leicestershire v West Indians at Leicester, May 14-15, 1980
Tour Match: Northamptonshire v West Indians at Milton Keynes, May 17-19, 1980
Tour Match: Middlesex v West Indians at Lord's, May 20, 1980
Tour Match: Middlesex v West Indians at Lord's, May 21, 1980
Tour Match: Essex v West Indians at Chelmsford, May 22, 1980
Tour Match: Essex v West Indians at Chelmsford, May 23, 1980
Tour Match: Derbyshire v West Indians at Chesterfield, May 24-26, 1980
Tour Match: Kent v West Indians at Canterbury, May 31-Jun 2, 1980
Tour Match: Oxford and Cambridge Universities v West Indians at Cambridge, Jun 12-13, 1980
Tour Match: Sussex v West Indians at Hove, Jun 14-16, 1980
Tour Match: Glamorgan v West Indians at Swansea, Jun 28-Jul 1, 1980
Tour Match: Glamorgan v West Indians at Swansea, Jun 29, 1980
Tour Match: Gloucestershire v West Indians at Bristol, Jul 2-4, 1980
Tour Match: Somerset v West Indians at Taunton, Jul 5-7, 1980
Tour Match: Yorkshire v West Indians at Leeds, Jul 19-21, 1980
Tour Match: Warwickshire v West Indians at Birmingham, Aug 2-4, 1980
Tour Match: Essex v West Indians at London, Aug 14, 1980