A classic knock

VIJAY LOKAPALLY

Clive Lloyd's effortless 102 in the final, easily the most outstanding batting performance of the 1975 World Cup, came on a big stage, in front of a packed Lord's, and was acknowledged for the quality that added to the stature of the batsman.-THE HINDU PHOTO LIBRARY

COULD there have been a better image than a beaming Clive Lloyd on the Lord's balcony?

The 1975 World Cup final, played on the longest day of the year, saw the West Indies begin its domination in world cricket in the most authoritative fashion. And Lloyd was the architect of that victory with an epic innings, capping his team's brilliant run in a competition, which gave a new status to limited-overs cricket.

There were a few other sterling batting performances in the tournament. The trend was set by Dennis Amiss, who cracked a sensational 137 against India in the opening match of the World Cup. A strokeful 171 by Glenn Turner highlighted New Zealand's win against lowly East Africa. Turner later hit an unbeaten 114 against India. The foxy Keith Fletcher produced a classy 131 against New Zealand and then Australian opener Alan Turner punished Sri Lanka with a knock of 101.

These were centuries, which stood out for sheer quality. But there was one little priceless gem of a knock, a courageous performance by Deryck Murray, which ranks high on my list of all-time great innings. An unbeaten knock of 61, a match-winning effort that shattered Pakistan's dreams. It pulled the West Indies from the brink of defeat, as Murray put on 64 runs in 14 overs in a last-wicket partnership at Edgbaston, his team winning by a wicket and two balls to spare. A great innings by any standards and one, which propelled the West Indies to great heights indeed.

But Clive Lloyd's classic in the final, an effortless 102, was easily the most outstanding batting performance for various reasons. It came on a big stage, in front of a packed Lord's, and was acknowledged for the quality that added to the stature of the batsman. Lloyd was known to be a player of exceptional ability and this tournament, this innings in particular, was a giant step towards attaining the distinction of a leader. Such was the significance of his 102 off 82 balls.

The Aussies were hit by Lloyd's strokeplay. He just converted the good balls into juicy ones and cruised along to put the West Indies in a great position. At 50 for three, the West Indies was gasping, but the experience of Rohan Kanhai and the exuberance of Lloyd swung the match away from the Aussies. The grand backfoot play of Lloyd was a treat to watch and what an innings it was! A reprieve early did not hamper Lloyd. His first 50 took him 52 balls. Not bad by any standard. His next 50 came off a mere 32 balls. A dream performance, which commanded a standing ovation from an understanding audience at the Mecca of cricket. Umpire Dickey Bird rated Lloyd's knock as one of the finest he had seen but the best compliment came from Denis Compton, who described Lloyd's effort as one of the greatest innings he had seen, comparing it with the 235 by Stan McCabe at Trent Bridge in 1938, an innings which had prompted Don Bradman to summon his team to the balcony.

The West Indies was hailed as favourite to win the Cup in 1975 and Lloyd, with his ferocious assault on the Aussies, had ensured just that, signing off a grand tournament with an unforgettable finale.