On this day: West Indies lifts first Cricket World Cup

West Indies was the only undefeated side in the competition; Lloyd deservedly won the man of the match award of pounds 200 and received the Cup from the President of the MCC, Prince Phillip.

West Indies captain Clive Lloyd raises high the Prudential World Cricket cup after his team had beaten Australia by 17 runs at Lords on June 21, 1975.   -  THE HINDU ARCHIVES

It is international cricket's longest day, an encounter that began at 10 a.m. and ended only at 7.45 p.m. The Prudential World Cup final of 1975 at Lord's turned out to be an absorbing encounter, heightened by oscillating fortunes, before the West Indies emerged champion of the inaugural edition, beating Australia by 17 runs.

The West Indies, led by Clive Lloyd, was undoubtedly the most talented side in the competition. But in question on the eve of the final was its temperament. For, earlier in the competition, the West Indies had showed both facets of its character. The previous Saturday, it had been authoritative in its victory over Australia at The Oval in the group phase highlighted by Alvin Kallicharran's magnificent assault of Dennis Lillee for 35 runs off 10 deliveries. But three days prior to that, it had barely managed to scrape past Pakistan in a qualifying match by one wicket, courtesy the 64-run stand between Deryck Murray and Andy Roberts, after the main batsmen had made a hash of things. Also, two years earlier, in Georgetown (Guyana), the West Indies, a line-up of which more than half a dozen figured in this XI, was bowled out by Australia for 109 in 52.3 overs in the second innings and lost the fourth Test and the series. There was also the famed Aussie spirit to counter. The thing about the Aussies is that defeat only fortifies their resolve.

Read | The 1975 World Cup in numbers

As wounded tigers, Ian Chappell and his boys wanted very much to get even. The eldest of the Chappell brothers explained, "The way the West Indies played against us at The Oval convinced me of certain things. We learned a lot from that defeat and I now feel we can beat them in the final. I know they are a very fine side, but I just have that feeling that tomorrow is going to be our day." Chappell's confidence was made stronger by the fact that the Lord's pitch was likely to be faster than the one used at The Oval. It would then give Jeff Thomson the chance to come into his own while Lillee would be far quicker for Kallicharran's flashing blade. This time there would be left-arm medium pacer Gary Gilmour to back Lillee, Thommo and Max Walker. It was Gilmour who had won the semifinal against England almost single-handedly. The stage was set. Over 25,000 spectators were at the ground on June 21, a record pounds 66,400 in form of gate receipts earned. The public wasn't let down. An exhilarating finish to an action-packed fortnight it indeed was.

Chappell won the toss and promptly put West Indies in. His gambit seemed to work with the opposition struggling at 50 for three; Fredericks dismissed hit-wicket after hooking Lillee for a six, Kallicharran caught-behind off Gilmour and Greenidge falling to Thomson. Thereafter Lloyd led the Windies challenge with a magnificent 102, made in just 85 deliveries and studded with two sixes and 12 boundaries, to enable the side post 291 for eight in the allotted 60 overs. He reached his 50 off 52 balls and moved to his 100 off 82 deliveries. The silver-haired Rohan Kanhai (55), was content to play second fiddle in the 149-run fourth-wicket stand, Lloyd making all his runs in that phase.

Lloyd was merciless in his savage onslaught on the attack, driving imperiously and pulling anything short with gay abandon. Lloyd's dismissal was under controversial circumstances, given out caught behind off Gilmour. Confident that he hadn't snicked the ball, the bespectacled left-hander stood ground, but the umpires conferred and gave him out. Gilmour finished with five wickets with the Windies running into a spot of bother before the total was boosted by a half-century stand between Boyce and Julien.

Read | The 1975 World Cup final: West Indies' triumph of character and skill

The task at hand demanded all the resources at the command of the Australian batsmen. McCosker was castled by Boyce early, the first of the seamer's four wickets, but Ian Chappell (62) put on 56 with opener Alan Turner before the latter was run out to a brilliant underarm effort by young Viv Richards from mid-wicket. Runs, however, kept coming at a fair pace before the run outs of Greg and Ian Chappell, effected again by Richards, left Australia at 162 for four. But the Aussies battled on, Walters making 35 before Lloyd, bowling medium pace, clean bowled him. Edwards chipped in with 28. Even as the shadows lengthened over the famous ground and the West Indian fans kept up a chorus of support — both vocal and musical — Thomson and Lillee came up with a last-ditch effort.

The excitement was so high that the crowd, thinking that the match was over when Thomson was caught off a no-ball, raced to the pitch. Australia needed 59 for victory and the 'terrible twins' put on an incredible 41 runs before Thomson was run out with eight balls left to complete the match. West Indies was the only undefeated side in the competition. Lloyd deservedly won the man of the match award of pounds 200 and received the Cup from the President of the MCC, Prince Phillip.

Chappell paid a glowing tribute to his rival skipper for a "magnificent innings which changed the game after we got the good start I hoped for when I put them in," Ian said, adding, "Their fielding was tremendous and Richards was like a panther. Their throwing was right on the spot (five run outs in the innings)." Lloyd said Kanhai played a fine innings. "I was especially pleased with our fielding. We certainly have some of the best throwers in the game."