With the majority of their best players having opted to play WSC cricket in Australia rather than wear their country's colour on this tour, West Indies fulfilled their commitment to India and Sri Lanka with a young and inexperienced team. They included only five players who had won Test or touring caps before the Packer players and the administration went their separate ways in the previous spring. Of these, Vanburn Holder would have considered his international career to have ended.
Under the circumstances, the touring team's record did them credit. They lost only one of the six Tests and drew the remainder. Of the eight subsidiary fixtures in India, they won two and lost one, the last fixture of the tour. The Test series had ended by then and the players, now mentally and physically tired, were losing interest. On the second stage, in Sri Lanka, the opening one-day fixture was lost, but the two first-class matches against Sri Lanka were drawn and the remaining one-day games won.
The tour record does indeed bear proof to the richness of West Indies' resources. But that India could not beat this inexperienced team more than once was also an indication of the decline in India's strength - despite the emergence of a useful all-rounder in Kapil Dev.
India and West Indies looked evenly matched in the first two tests. Strangely and regrettably, the tourists seemed to fade away, rather than improve, as the series progressed and India had the edge in the three subsequent draws. The result in the fourth Test, the only one that ended decisively, was fashioned more by West Indies' errors rather by outstanding play on India's part. With the Madras pitch fast and bouncy, West Indies should have won this Test with their superior pace bowling. But they failed to turn it to advantage with a series of dropped chances and errant tactics. Indeed, Kallicharran's captaincy was one of the major weaknesses of the touring team.
Both sides relied heavily on their two main batsmen. For India, Gavaskar aggregated 732 runs, including a double-century and three other three-figure scores, two of them in the same match - the third Test. Next came Viswanath, and his great worth was that he succeeded in those Tests in which Gavaskar failed to make his presence felt. One of them was the fourth Test, in which Viswanath's 124 laid the foundations of India's win. They would also have been in grave trouble without his 70 in the second Test, at Bangalore.
Dilip Vengsarkar- playing his first full series at home - also topped the 400 mark, but his two hundreds were too slowly accumulated to be of any advantage. Moreover, there was an element of luck in both these big innings for he was desperately vulnerable outside the off stump.
For their part, West Indies leant heavily on Kallicharran, who totalled 538 runs, and Gomes, with 405. Starting with 187 in the first Test, Kallicharran made 50 or more in each of the next three Tests, and it was only in the last two that he cracked under responsibility, which increased when Gomes' form started to taper off as well. Gomes'pièce de resistance was a dashing 91 in the fourth Test which, if West Indies had held their catches, would have proved a match-winning innings. Against Sri Lanka, he scored hundreds in both first-class fixtures, including an unbeaten 173.
Faoud Bacchus, stylish and adventurous, finished with more runs than Gomes, but 250 of them came in one innings in the final Test. He looked a good player throughout the series, but was often the victim of his own impetuosity. His fielding, particularly at short leg, was one of the features of the series. Like Bacchus, Shivnarine also did himself less than full justice because of indiscreet batting, although it was his imperturbable calm and watchfulness that saved West Indies from defeat in the dramatic third Test.
With unreliable batting at the top of the order, both sides were held in good stead by the efforts of their all-rounders. Parry and Phillip contributed useful runs on many occasions, as did West Indies' wicket-keeper, David Murray. India's cause was often boosted by the aggressive batting of their teenaged all-rounder, Kapil Dev. It was he who made certain of India winning the fourth Test. Ghavri also made a useful contribution with the bat.
West Indies' attack, as always, was pace-orientated. Clarke- capable of high speed - Phillip and Holder all bowled with great heart, but suffered from too many dropped catches. Marshall, who had played only one first-class match before going on tour, showed exceptional promise in the subsidiary games, but his Test performances suffered from want of experience. Parry, the off-break bowler from Nevis, was conspicuous for the amount of spin he could extract and was not afraid to flight the ball. Kallicharran, however, did not give him sufficient opportunities - to the detriment of the team's cause as well as this promising cricketer's.
For India, the main wicket-takers were, incredible as it may seem, their fast bowlers. Ghavri and Kapil Dev, between them, took 44 wickets, of which 27 were Ghavri's. The series emphasised the decline of Bedi and Chandrasekhar, which was already apparent during the series in Pakistan. Bedi lost his place halfway through the series, and although Chandrasekhar, dropped for the third and fourth Tests, was recalled for the last two, it was because his replacement Narasimha Rao, had proved ineffective. Narasimha Rao, an all-rounder, failed with the bat as well but took some outstanding catches close to the wicket.
Although India's faster bowlers took a large share of the wickets, Venkataraghavan played a vital role and India would hardly have won the fourth Test but for his contribution of four wickets in each innings, including the most important ones. He invariably struck when Ghavri and Kapil Dev had lost their edge and were being collared.
West Indies had no trouble holding their own in the non-Test matches. Of those who did not command a regular Test place, the youthful Marshall was a prominent success with both ball and bat. The tour certainly helped his advancement.
Only two young Indian players left an impression in these games, holding out promise of playing Test cricket in the future. One was schoolboy Saad Bin Jung, a nephew of the Nawab of Pataudi. Although he had not played a first-class match before the first of his three appearances against the tourists, he batted with calm assurance, particularly against the pace bowlers. Equally outstanding was the off-spin bowling of Shivlal Yadav for the Board President's XI on a firm Bombay pitch.
Reports and scores of the matches played in Sri Lanka were supplied by Gerry Vaidyasekera.
Test matches- Played 6: Lost 1, Drawn 5.
First-class matches- Played 16: Won 2, Lost 2, Drawn 12.
Wins- Central Zone, East Zone.
Losses- India, Karnataka.
Draws- India (5), Indian Colts, West Zone, South Zone, Board President's XI, North Zone, Sri Lanka (2).
One-day matches- Played 3: Won 2, Lost 1. Wins- Sri Lanka, Sri Lanka Board President's XI. Loss- Sri Lanka Board President's XI.
|Tests||Innings||Not Outs||Runs||Highest Inns||Average|
|S. M. Gavaskar||6||9||1||732||205||91.50|
|G. R. Viswanath||6||7||0||497||179||71.00|
|D. B. Vengsarkar||6||9||2||417||157*||59.57|
|A. D. Gaekwad||5||7||0||293||102||41.85|
|C. P. S. Chauhan||6||8||0||331||84||41.37|
|K. D. Ghavri||6||7||2||92||43||18.40|
|S. M. H. Kirmani||6||7||1||101||33||16.83|
|B. S. Bedi||3||3||1||24||18||12.00|
|M. V. Narasimha Rao||2||3||0||11||6||3.66|
|B. S. Chandrasekhar||4||2||1||1||1||1.00|
|D. D. Parsana||2||2||0||1||1||0.50|
|K. D. Ghavri||205||42||634||27||23.48|
|B. S. Chandrasekhar||160||33||431||12||35.91|
|B. S. Bedi||130||40||324||7||46.28|
Match reports for
Tour Match: Central Zone v West Indians at Indore, Nov 17-19, 1978
Tour Match: India Under-22s v West Indians at Pune, Nov 22-24, 1978
Tour Match: West Zone v West Indians at Vadodara, Nov 26-28, 1978
Tour Match: South Zone v West Indians at Hyderabad (Deccan), Dec 9-11, 1978
Tour Match: East Zone v West Indians at Jamshedpur, Dec 23-25, 1978
Tour Match: Indian Board President's XI v West Indians at Mumbai (BS), Jan 6-8, 1979
Tour Match: North Zone v West Indians at Jalandhar, Jan 20-22, 1979
Tour Match: Karnataka v West Indians at Ahmedabad, Feb 10-12, 1979