Vivian Richards had scored his first One-Day International (ODI) century against England at Scarborough in August 1976. He made an unbeaten 119 – surprisingly facing 133 balls – with 20 hits to the fence and one over it. The West Indies won the match.
Three years later, the King Richards in the making dashed Mike Brearley and England’s hopes of achieving World Cup glory at Lord’s. Like Ian Chappell had done four years before in 1975, England captain Brearley chose to field on winning the toss.
England was without the injured Bob Willis, but Chris Old and Mike Hendrick vindicated their captain’s decision by dismissing Desmond Haynes, Clive Lloyd and Alvin Kallicharran. Gordon Greenidge was run out and the West Indies was in a difficult situation at 99 for four.
Richards had taken guard at the fall of Greenidge when the score was 22 and he was not dismissed; the gum-chewing Antiguan finished his 157-ball knock by going across and smashing a waist-high full toss from Hendrick for a six. It was the last ball of the West Indies innings that ended at 286 for nine. And Richards’ score read: 138 not out, 157 balls, 207 minutes, 11 fours, three sixes.
Having understood the situation of the match, Richards had taken his time to settle down and allowed Collis King to go after the England bowling. The Barbadian played only four World Cup matches and in the final he even overshadowed his famous partner.
King hammered 86 off 66 balls with 10 fours and three sixes, and dominated the fifth-wicket stand that delivered the West Indies a precious 139 runs.
In the ultimate analysis, it was Richards’ controlled knock that took the match away from England. Denis Compton said of Richards’ innings: “It was a joyous exhibition and the Don at his best would not have been more impudently superior.”
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