Matches (16)
IPL (2)
ENG v PAK (W) (1)
T20I Tri-Series (1)
County DIV1 (5)
County DIV2 (4)
CE Cup (3)
World Cup Timeline

'1979 was the closest we got to a World Cup final'

The former New Zealand captain remembers playing his first world tournament in an era when it was little more than an interruption to the county season

John Wright
John Wright cuts on his way to a century, England v New Zealand, 3rd Test, The Oval, 2nd day, August 22, 1986

John Wright wished he could bat like Viv  •  PA Photos

In 1979, it was more like enjoying ourselves. No build-up as far as I can recall. We just played as well as we could. It was great to be a part of an idea of a world event.
We knew each other pretty well back then. Most of the players from all the teams were playing in county cricket in England. I joined the team from Derbyshire. We would have trained with the national teams maybe for a fortnight at the most before playing what was a short tournament. No space on the county calendar for players to train together, preparation camps, or anything of the sort. Everyone was playing county cricket before joining their teams for the World Cup, and then returned to their respective counties once their national team was done with its World Cup commitments.
The tournament was played over less than a month, everyone in whites, 60 overs during the day. No hype. It was much more gentle.
New Zealand lost the semi-final to England by a very low margin - nine runs, at Old Trafford. Now that I look back at that game, it was perhaps the closest we ever got to the final.
I got run out. My god, what a nightmare it was! I don't like to remember that. I think I was looking for two and was sent back. I'd got a decent score (69) and if I had stayed there, maybe we would have got past. We played the full 60 overs and nine runs was not much.
We had a good team. We beat Sri Lanka and ran West Indies quite close on a really flat wicket at Trent Bridge.
I had heard about this Michael Holding and had once watched him play, but it's an entirely different thing to bat against him. It was the first time I ever faced him and I could not believe how quick he was. It was a flat, flat wicket, with no bounce as such, yet I couldn't believe how fast he was off the hands. I may have got out during a Garner over, but Holding probably got the wicket.
I watched the final on television after I'd gone back to Derby, as Viv Richards and Collis King smashed the England batsmen. I remember thinking about how it should have been us in the final and then wishing that I could bat like Viv.
West Indies had an amazing side and you've got to imagine a game between the best Australian team - the one that had McGrath and Warne - and that West Indies team. How great would that be?