A sensational spell

G. VISWANATH

`Big Bird' Joel Garner scythed through the English middle-order with a deadly spell of bowling in the final of the 1979 World Cup.-THE HINDU PHOTO LIBRARY

JOEL GARNER produced the sensational in the final of the 1979 Prudential World Cup against England. It was a great feat because the `Big Bird' had just come into the international cricket scene and had managed to be part of the West Indies weaponry that had aggressive and explosive bowlers in Andy Roberts, Michael Holding and Colin Croft. Clive Lloyd used the quartet intelligently to make them effective and the result was apparent. The West Indies ruled the roost in world cricket.

Garner was a giant. He stood 2.02 metres tall and sent the ball down at great speed and length from a height that caused enough doubts and confusion in the minds of batsman not well-equipped with technique. Many of them lost sight of the ball in the air and no sooner the stumps were knocked out. He used the width of the crease and changed the angle of his deliveries.

Lloyd largely depended on the trusted pair in Roberts and Holding to deliver the goods. Croft with a peculiar action was his next bet. But after Vivian Richards and Collis King had set up a match-winning total of 286, England, for a change, had a good foundation from the openers, Mike Brearley and Geoff Boycott. A target of 287 was always gettable in a 60 overs a side match and England got a start of 129 before Holding dismissed the openers and Croft got rid of Derek Randall.

There was a tussle or so it appeared when England was 183 for two wickets. Brearley had reason to believe that his team had a chance to topple the defending champion. It was then that Garner broke the back of the England middle order with a deadly spell of bowling. He bowled Graham Gooch for 32 and dismissed the other four batsmen — David Gower, Wayne Larkins, Chris Old and Bob Taylor for zeroes. The first three were bowled and Taylor was caught at the wicket by Murray. From 183 for two England's run chase ended at 194 with eight wickets falling for 11 runs.

The final was Garner's fourth match of the World Cup. His figures in the previous three matches were one for 42 against India, two for 45 against New Zealand and none for 47 against Pakistan in the semifinal. Garner's forte was accuracy and varying the pace and length. He bowled 11 overs and conceded 38 runs.

Seven bowlers took four and more wickets in the second Prudential World Cup; the other six were Allan Hurst (five for 21, Australia v Canada), Chris Old (four for eight, England v Canada), Bob Willis (four for 11, England v Canada), Mike Hendrick (four for 15, England v Pakistan), Michael Holding (four for 33, West Indies v India), Asif Iqbal (four for 56, Pakistan v West Indies). But Garner's spell was a top-notch effort because of the way he turned the match on its head.