In reply to West Indies' 286 for 9 in the 1979 World Cup final, England made steady progress, getting to tea without losing a wicket. The issue was that instead of going after the gentle offspin of Viv Richards, Geoff Boycott and Mike Brearley were milking him for singles. While the capacity crowd was initially happy that the openers had seen off the new ball and weathered all that Andy Roberts, Michael Holding, Colin Croft and Joel Garner could throw at them, their concern grew as the overs ticked away.
Boycott, who had taken 17 overs to reach double figures, was on strike shortly after tea when he came down the pitch to Richards and mistimed his stroke. The ball arced gently to Clive Lloyd, an outstanding fielder, even though he had already dropped Brearley once. Just as slowly, Lloyd fluffed the catch at wide mid-on, ending up on his back with the ball on the turf close by.
England reached tea on 79 for 0 after 25 overs, but the game was slipping away from them. "We weren't too worried when Lloyd contrived to drop Boycott," Richards later said.
"I could have watched them all day because I knew every over they batted was another nail in their coffin," Lloyd noted. "A lot of people suggested I put [the catch] down purposefully just to keep him in. It's not true, but it wouldn't have been a bad tactic."
The drop, however, brought Boycott out of his shell as he drove Roberts through the covers and then steered him to third man for two fours. But by the time the first-wicket stand finally ended with the score on 129 in the 39th over, the damage had been done. England were running out of overs - and this was the era before fielding restrictions, so the boundary could be packed - and from 183 for 2, they lost eight wickets for just 11 runs in a flurry of heaves and hoicks.
This article was first published in 2014