Clive Lloyd’s epic knock

West Indies captain Clive Lloyd raises high the Prudential World Cup after his team had beaten Australia by 17 runs at Lord’s on June 21, 1975. At left is the Duke of Edinburgh who presented the trophy.-PICS: THE HINDU PHOTO LIBRARY

West Indies had the best credentials to win the inaugural World Cup and it realised its potential. By Vijay Lokapally.

It was the team best equipped to win the Cup. With a galaxy of stars in its ranks there was hardly any cricket fan who would have picked a team other than the West Indies to win the inaugural World Cup in 1975. In Clive Lloyd the team had a powerful performer, a leader who could swing the match on the strength of his individual brilliance, and his sensational batting in the final only confirmed the belief that he was a man who saved his best for the big occasions.

“The competition was to produce some of the most exciting cricket I have ever taken part in. Let’s face it, we had something to prove. If we were the best one-day competition players, this was the chance,” Lloyd was quoted in his authorised biography. His team did prove it was the best in this form of cricket.

Australia was a contender. So was Pakistan with its unpredictable set of players. But West Indies was a compact combination with a perfect balance. The most important factor was the players’ understanding of the playing conditions in England. Their county cricket experience helped them give their best against some of the best performers of world cricket.

The tag of favourites also meant that the West Indies was under pressure even before the first ball was bowled. It began by brushing aside Sri Lanka in the opening match. The nine-wicket margin reflected the difference in the teams. The next match, against Pakistan, however, gave West Indies its most challenging phase in one-day cricket.

In conditions suited to batting, West Indies faced a target of 267. “We didn’t bowl as well as we might have and they scored a little more than we had bargained for,” observed Lloyd. Pakistan certainly had the desired run-cushion for its bowlers, who bowled superbly to reduce West Indies to 166 for eight. But, with only Vanburn Holder and Andy Roberts for company, the energetic Deryck Murray pulled off an astonishing last-over victory. Pakistan was crestfallen, but a champion dream was born that day in Edgbaston as West Indies grew in stature and confidence.

Clive Lloyd runs out his counterpart Ian Chappell after collecting a throw from Viv Richards. Five Australian batsmen were run out with Richards accounting for three of them.-

Three days later, West Indies crushed Australia by seven wickets, thanks to a tremendous knock of 78 by Alvin Kallicharran, who reduced the bowlers to a pedestrian state.

The convincing march continued as West Indies swept New Zealand away in a one-sided semifinal with Kallicharran once again the ‘Man of the Match’ for an aggressive 72.

When Australia got past England in a low-scoring semifinal at Leeds the stage was set for a grand finale at Lord’s. Australia, led by Ian Chappell, had looked the team to beat and there was not a seat vacant at the final when it chose to field. Rohan Kanhai came up with a vintage half century, but it was Lloyd’s century that created the platform for a grand contest. Denis Compton termed the match the “greatest ever” 60-over battle and Lloyd’s knock was described as “magnificent.” It was a compelling show by the West Indian captain and as Compton noted, it was brimming with “power, grace and elegance.”

The West Indies showed all-round brilliance that eventful day. Lloyd’s batting set up a stiff target. Australia threatened to chase it down, but was pushed back by some superb fielding by Richards, who ran out Alan Turner and Greg Chappell and facilitated the run out of Ian Chappell. And then Keith Boyce bowled an incisive spell to stifle the Australians. But the men from Down Under came as close as 17 runs to the West Indian score, thanks to some spirited batting by Lillee and Thomson, who rallied the team from 233 for nine.

Twice, the spectators ran on to the field, wrongly assuming the match to be over as West Indies attempted a sixth run out. The authorities had a tough time in running the show and umpire Dickie Bird lost his hat in the melee. The West Indians were hardly complaining though. They had pocketed the world’s most coveted cricket trophy!