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June 23: ICC CWC 1979 Final, v England; Lords. West Indies were, for the umpteenth time, again in very deep trouble, in a massive hole, as the top order disappeared. History, and WI cricket, do repeat themselves! In a flash, WI were 99-4, wobbling severely, with Sir Gordon Greenidge (4), Sir Desmond Haynes (20), Alvin Kallicharran (4) and Sir Clive Lloyd (13) back in the pavilion, cooling their heels but with hot heads.
Yet, even with WI tottering on the proverbial ropes, England could not administer the absolute knockout blows, not with ultra-confident Sir Vivian Richards, and utterly disdainful, belligerent Collis King still at the crease. They came to the rescue, and what followed was the best ODI batsmanship that I have ever seen.
King cut, drove, carved, swiped, lashed and bludgeoned England’s bowling attack to such a state, that his 86 (66 balls, 10 fours, three sixes, S.R 130), in a partnership of 139 with Sir Viv, would stand up, even today, in ODI and T-20 cricket. As one headline suggested back then; “King leaves Viv in the shade!” Quite so!
King’s innings of 86 is, for me, also the best ODI innings that the world has ever seen; period; that did not win an ODI “Man-of-the-Match” award. It should have, despite Sir Viv’s eventual 138 not out. In my opinion, Sir Viv’s batting was second best to Collis’ that day, and Sir Viv was also intelligent enough to know it. He played accordingly.
Later, Sir Viv did also take an excellent running catch at deep mid-wicket to dismiss his Somerset team-mate and good friend Sir Ian Botham, from Croft’s bowling, as England chased WI’s eventual 286-9 (60 overs). That stunning running catch, and the last immortal stroke of Sir Viv’s innings; a flicked six over square leg from the last ball of WI’s innings, off Mike Hendrick; probably clinched the “M-o-M” for Sir Viv.
WI Fast Bowlers get their own back in ICC CWC 1979 Final
England’s reply, chasing 287 to win in 60 overs, was very strange indeed. Openers Sir Geoff Boycott and captain Mike Brearley put on 79-0 (25 overs), then 129-0 (39 overs), before being parted. Especially Holding (2-16; 8 overs), Sir Andy, Garner, Croft, Sir Viv, and King too, had been frugal, but the English openers were just so absolutely funereal. Brearley and Sir Geoff just lost the entire plot of ODI cricket!
Sir Clive, normally extremely sure-handed while fielding anywhere, even, somehow, managed to drop a very soft ‘sitter’, at his position at mid-wicket, when Sir Geoff essayed an on-drive at a gentle “medium dobbler” from Sir Viv. To this day, many who witnessed that ‘drop’ still query as to if Sir Clive had contrived to grass that catch deliberately, thus allowing the slow scoring by Brearley and Sir Geoffrey to continue.
What followed, with England so far behind the asking rate, was a crescendo of wickets and a massive collapse. “Big Bird” Garner speared in his “yorkers” with extremely deadly accuracy; 5-38 (11 overs), while Croft also helped out; we had debuted together in Test cricket in 1977; with 3-42 (10 overs). West Indies had easily won the ICC CWC 1979 Final, by a massive 92 runs, thus retaining the trophy won in 1975. England had been destroyed for 194 all out (51 overs), after also being 183-2 at one time. England opener Sir Geoff was rueful, even embarrassed. “No way,” he said, “were West Indies 92 runs better than us!”
On June 23, 1979, WI Captain Sir Clive Lloyd again lifted the ICC CWC Trophy, celebrating another very special, second ICC 50-overs Cricket World Cup win. June has always been a special month for WI cricket! (West Indies Cricket News)