Supercat and his super side emerge unbeaten

SANJAY RAJAN

West Indian players rush back to the pavilion as fans invade the Lord's ground after the final.-THE HINDU PHOTO LIBRARY

MANY consider the West Indies side that retained its supreme status in the Prudential World Cup of 1979 in England as one of the best teams in the history of limited-overs cricket. It might have lacked the batting depth of the victorious 1975 squad, but it possessed the legendary pace quartet this time around.

Andy Roberts, Michael Holding, Colin Croft and Joel Garner were different in their appearance, action and bowling methods, but each was capable of running through an opposition. A batsman needed ability and patience to get runs off them, for they hardly allowed the batsman to get on to the front foot, and they possessed tremendous control to keep at it consistently.

The batting bristled with talent, with the `Bajan' Gordon Greenidge leading the way in this competition. Greenidge and Haynes went on to become one of the best opening pairs in the world. Then followed the classy left-hander Kallicharran, the powerful Clive Lloyd, the dominating Viv Richards and Collis King. Richards hadn't made the kind of runs expected of him early in the championship, but along with King more than made up for it, with a superb century in the final.

There was an aura of invincibility about the West Indian players, which could have been because of Kerry Packer's WSC promotion programme which most of them had been part of. It was also a side that was in the midst of ruling the world in both forms of the game.

Vivian Richards in full flow during his unbeaten century knock.-THE HINDU PHOTO LIBRARY

Skipper Lloyd, a shrewd leader, stuck to the above mentioned XI right through (he changed the batting order, though, depending on situations), emerged undefeated yet again, topping it with a dominating 92-run win over host England in the final at Lord's.

It goes without saying that entertainers from the Caribbean were the best combination in the competition and strongly favoured to win the title clash. On the eve of the final, Lloyd said, "Given good weather, we should beat England."

Lloyd's line of thinking was that England's striking force, the seam bowlers, would be effective in rainy weather while his bowlers are not as comfortable under such conditions. Also that with the sun on their backs and on a firm pitch, the West Indian batsmen can be expected to make the runs, however good be England's bowling.

England was without spearhead Bob Willis, who aggravated an old knee injury in the semifinal. Skipper Mike Brearley went in a specialist bowler short while including young Wayne Larkins to strengthen the batting that had seemed lacking in striking power in the narrow semifinal win over New Zealand.

One thought Brearley's decision to put the West Indies in was hard to justify as it is always difficult to chase, and in good batting conditions this Windies line-up can make too many runs for one's comfort. But his gamble worked, the West Indies struggling at 55 for three and 99 for four with Greenidge, Haynes, Kallicharran and Lloyd gone.

Collis King (86) played his shots with gay abandon and put on a century partnership for the fifth wicket with Richards.-THE HINDU PHOTO LIBRARY

It was hereabout that the match turned on its head, with Richards and King putting on 139 for the fifth (and theoretically the last effective) wicket between the 30th and 51st overs in the 60-overs a side contest.

In the absence of Willis, only the bearded Hendrick posed a threat while Windies also took advantage of the absence of the fifth specialist bowler in the England line-up. Hendrick apart, the attack comprised two other seamers in Botham and Old and a slow bowler in Edmonds while Boycott, Gooch and Larkins shared 13 overs and went for 86 runs combined.

Richards played the role of a sheet anchor with admirable poise and confidence, nursed King (86, 67b, 3x6, 10x4) who was going great guns, playing his shots with gay abandon. He displayed that when in mood he could be destructive.

The highpoint of the West Indies innings was Richards' last ball six off Hendrick, in which he moved outside his off-stump and swung the bowler for a six over square-leg. Dramatic indeed, but masterful.

England was set 287 for victory — five short of what Australia chased in the final of the previous edition — an arduous task indeed, considering the strong West Indies attack.

Wayne Larkins is bowled by Garner for nought. Garner took five wickets for 38.-THE HINDU PHOTO LIBRARY

Geoff Boycott and Brearley put on 129 for the opening wicket, but fell in quick succession, both trying to hook Holding, and at 135 for two in the 40th over there indeed was too much for the rest to do.

Randall and Gooch hustled 48, but fell one after the other at the score of 183. Garner, who finished with five wickets (he rates this his best performance), accounted for Gooch and then took the wickets of Gower and Larkins in the same over.

Even as England was disintegrating, Richards ran a mile in the outfield to catch his good friend Botham. A while later Garner was on a hat-trick for the second time when he accounted for Old and Taylor, but missed it again when Hedrick lost his wicket to Croft. And the Super Cat was up there, holding aloft the Cup at the famous Lord's balcony.

The scores:

West Indies: C.G. Greenidge (run out) 9, D. Haynes c Hendrick b Old 20, I.V.A. Richards (not out) 138, A.I. Kallicharran b Hendrick 4, C.H. Lloyd c&b Old 13, C. King c Randall b Edmonds 86, D.L. Murray c Gower b Edmonds 5, A.M.E. Roberts c Brearley b Hendrick 0, J. Garner c Taylor b Botham 0, M. Holding b Botham 0, C. Croft (not out) 0; Extras (b-1, lb-10) 11. Total (for nine wickets, 60 overs) 286.

Fall of wickets: 1-22, 2-36, 3-55, 4-99, 5-238, 6-252, 7-258, 8-260, 9-272.

England bowling: Botham 12-2-44-2, Hendrick 12-2-50-2, Old 12-0-55-2, Boycott 7-0-38-0, Edmonds 12-2-40-2, Gooch 4-0-27-0, Larkins 2-0-21-0.

England: G. Boycott c Kallicharran b Holding 57, J.M. Brearley c King b Holding 64, D.W. Randall b Croft 15, G.A. Gooch b Garner 32, D.I. Gower b Garner 0, I.T. Botham c Richards b Croft 4, W. Larkins b Garner 0, C.M. Old b Garner 0, R. Taylor c Murray b Garner 0. P.H. Edmonds (not out) 5, M.I. Hendrick b Croft 0. Extras (lb-12, w-2, nb-3) 17. Total (in 51 overs) 194.

Fall of wickets: 1-129, 2-135, 3-183, 4-183, 5-186, 6-186, 7-188, 8-192, 9-192.

West Indies bowling: Roberts 9-2-33-0, Holding 8-1-16-2, Croft 10-1-42-3, Garner 11-0-38-5, Richards 10-0-35-0, King 3-0-13-0.