At Lord's, June 17, 19, 20, 22. Rest of the World won by an innings and 80 runs with a day to spare. England were so outclassed in this opening match of the series that few could have expected the four following games to be so closely contested. English hopes of victory had all but disappeared by lunch on the first day, which was a Wednesday, Thursday becoming a "rest day" because of the General Election.
The match was a personal triumph for the World XI captain, Gary Sobers, who not only wielded his collection of star players into a team straightaway, bnt set a remarkable personal example. He first destroyed the England batting with his best bowling in Test cricket and followed with a memorable innings of 183. This was the third occasion that the West Indies captain had made a century and taken five wickets in an innings in a Test Match. No other player had done it more than once.
England's experimental batting side, with Cowdrey and Boycott requesting not to be considered because of lack of form and Edrich forced out by a hand injury, made a sorry showing on the first morning. The cloudy, humid conditions were ideal for scam and swing bowling and Sobers made the most of them after Illingworth had won the toss. With the aid of Procter and McKenzie he had England down to 44 for seven by the first interval. Jones and Luckhurst, two of three newcomers in the England side, were quickly swept aside. Jones, given an overdue chance after years of inconsistent scoring in county cricket, seemed overcome by the occasion. After edging the first ball of the match from McKenzie over the slips he played a rash stroke to Procter's fast delivery and lost his wicket.
This was the start of a decline not arrested until Illingworth and Underwood came together for the eighth wicket. Sobers, varying pace and swing shrewdly, took wickets in his third, sixth, eighth, ninth and twelfth over. After 49 balls his figures were four for 9, his final return six for 21. Much of the England batting was spiritless. Illingworth showed that Sobers was not unplayable with the first of the rescuing innings he was to play in the series. He dealt so firmly with the bowling that there were ten 4's in his 63, which helped England to a total of 127, made in three and a half hours.
This was soon shown to be woefully inadequate. Richards, all ease and casual grace, and the more ragged Barlow put on 69 for the first wicket. Kanhai was also out before the close but by then the Rest of the World were only 13 behind.
On the Friday, Bartow and Graeme Pollock took their third-wicket stand to 131 before both were but in the space of three balls, Pollock for 55 and Barlow for 119, his seventh Test century. Barlow showed vast powers of concentration and less signs that he had come from a South African winter into a Test Match with only minimal practice. He hit sixteen 4's in a stay of four hours, forty minutes.
Sobers then put the England bowling to the sword in a superb exhibition which showed him still at the peak of his powers. After Ward, England's best bowler, had removed Lloyd and Engineer with the new ball, Sobers and Intikhab made 197 together in the final two and a half hours of the day. Shuttleworth, England's new fast bowler, had Sobers dropped by Luckhurst at long leg when he was 41, otherwise Sobers gave the bowlers no encouragement. Intikhab played forcefully but was quite overshadowed.
By the close of the second day the score was 475 for six, with Sobers 147. Before a crowd of 14,500 on the Saturday he could not recapture his carefree mood of the previous evening. Yet by the time he was dismissed by Snow he had hit one 6 and thirty 4's. Snow took his 100th wicket for England when he bowled Procter but with a total of 546 the Rest of the World led by 419.
After a second failure by Jones, England made a better fight in their second innings, but were slowly spun out by Intikhab, who bowled 54 overs of leg breaks and googlies for his best Test figures of six for 113. Luckhurst used his feet well to the spinners and stayed three hours for 67, adding 101 for the third wicket with d'Oliveira, whose 78 was full of attacking strokes. Sobers accounted for Sharpe, his 200th Test victim, and by the close of the third day England were 228 for five. On Monday, Illingworth and Knott batted defiantly, taking the match into the afternoon while adding 117 in three hours lllingworth again looked a hats man of true Test class while scoring 94 (eleven 4's). But after Sobers, in his slower style, had dismissed the England captain six short of a well deserved century. Intikhab ran through the tailenders. Total attendance: 35,000.