1979 World Cup final: When King brought England down

Collis King cut the very first ball he faced, from Ian Botham, for a four and then destiny played its part.

Collis King cracked 86 off 66 balls with 10 fours and three sixes, two of the sixes coming off Wayne Larkins and the other one off Geoffrey Boycott.   -  The Hindu Photo Library

June 23, 1979... The second Prudential cricket World Cup final was on at Lord’s, London, with the defending champion, the West Indies, badly placed at 99 for four after being inserted by England.

Out walked the all-rounder Collis King, the last of the recognised West Indian batsmen, with only wicketkeeper Deryck Murray and the pace quartet — Andy Roberts, Joel Garner, Michael Holding and Colin Croft — left in the pavilion.

Viv Richards had been in for some time and in typical senior batsman fashion asked King to stick around as there was plenty of time and overs (60 overs per side at that time) left.

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But King had his own ideas! He didn’t want Geoffrey Boycott, the England opener, to lay hands on the World Cup! We are at a loss about the reason for this, but somewhere, sometime on the county circuit, Boycott had rubbed King on the wrong side and the wound still festered.

King cut the very first ball he faced, from Ian Botham, for a four and then destiny played its part.

England’s prime fast bowler, Bob Willis, was out injured and the team had to finish his quota of 12 overs through the non-regular trundlers — Boycott, Graham Gooch and Wayne Larkins...three capable batsmen with no great pretensions to being international bowlers.

And this trio blundered into a King, who at that time, had the mindset of a runaway train. King cracked 86 off 66 balls with 10 fours and three sixes, two of the sixes coming off Larkins and the other one off Boycott (oh, how sweet!).

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With King leading the way, Boycott was taken for 38 runs off six overs, Gooch for 27 off four and Larkins for 21 off two.

Though makeshift, these bowlers still had to be hit, and King’s first six off Larkins could well have been the shot that shifted the momentum. It ignited the West Indian crowd, which spilled over into the ground, cheering and dancing, and rid the team of the melancholy that had enveloped it.

When King finally fell, to the left-arm spin of Phil Edmonds, West Indies had got to 238.

And the monarch, Richards, finished things off in style with an unbeaten 138, which carried the West Indies to 286. And there was a telling footnote... none of the pace quartet troubled the scorers... 0, 0, 0, 0, it was, with Croft unbeaten! Murray contributed 5!

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The England openers, Brearley and Boycott, shot themselves in the foot, taking overly long for their partnership of 129. They consumed 235 balls between them while scoring 64 and 57 respectively, and didn’t leave enough deliveries for the other batsmen to mount a challenge. England ended up on 194, losing its last eight wickets for 11 runs with Joel Garner returning figures of 5 for 38.

England’s cerebral skipper, Mike Brearley, admitted that bowling Larkins at the time that he did was wrong.

But King wasn’t complaining. He had upstaged his bugbear, Boycott. And Richards, who was named the Man of the Match, said in all humility that the award should have gone to King.

Ultimately, the Caribbeans were left chuckling as a cerebral captain’s rare brain fade made it a lark in the park for them!Collis King cut the very first ball he faced, from Ian Botham, for a four and then destiny played its part.