With the 2019 edition of the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup set to begin in May, we look back at the most memorable moments from the tournament’s four-decade-long history. You can read the entire series here.
Moment No 20
The 1975 World Cup final was destined to be West Indies captain Clive Lloyd’s finest hour. He had belted a formidable Australian attack to shreds and was the most economical bowler in the match.
It was only one season into the Guyanese’s regime and the West Indies already looked like a unit who punched about their weight. In his hands was an aging group of players, but they were a determined bunch, brimming with pedigree. It was necessary as the Windies were taking on the best in the business.
He had an emerging crop as well, people who would serve West Indies cricket well. Among them was a sprightly youngster from Antigua named Viv Richards, the youngest in the team and just six months old in international cricket.
When the chips were down, Richards came to the rescue. It was a pattern that was set in stone for the next 17 years. But in the extraordinary highlights reel package of Richards’ career, it was his prowess on the field that was a launch pad.
It was the second time in the tournament that the Australians came up short against the West Indians. Alvin Kallicharran was the star of the show in round one and sent Dennis Lillee packing in the group stages.
The see-saw nature of the final, though, had ensured that the One-day International World Cup bulldozed its way into the same league as the Ashes, Frank Worrell Trophy or any of the bitter Indo-Pak clashes.
The arm from hell
Chasing an imposing target of 292 (in 60 overs), Australia were in control at Lord’s on a wicket which was slightly on the slower side. Opener Alan Turner and captain Ian Chappell were steady with the score 81/1. The West Indian bowlers were starting to show signs of restlessness. With star batsman Greg Chappell still to come, the match was in Australia’s hands.
But the winds of change slowly gathered pace.
The Australian skipper dabbed the ball on the leg side, hesitated for a split second but went for a run. At the other end, Turner was making the dash when Richards came sprinting in from shot mid-on and broke the stumps with a direct hit. Feline reflexes, iron will and extraordinary athleticism was rolled into one quick motion and the umpire raised his finger.
“I don’t think they new much about Viv because he was now coming through,” Lloyd told ESPNCricinfo. “And they didn’t know what type of fielder he was, if he had a good arm, and he did. He had a tremendous arm.
“He got on to the ball very quickly and at times they were very injudicious when they decided to go for a couple of singles and he was right there and pounced on it. He was electric when we were in the field.”
There was nothing injudicious about Australia’s third dismissal. The Chappell brothers decided to sneak in a quick single following a misfield. Richards, this time at point, had one stump to aim at the keeper’s end. The archer had hit the bull’s eye again and off went Greg, the best batsman in the world at the time.
Even the cameras at the time couldn’t keep pace with Richards when the fourth Australian wicket fell. Ian Chappell had played a crisp on drive off Lloyd but in a flash, the 23-year-old picked up and released it at the bowler’s end. Lloyd whipped off the bails and the batsman was short of his crease.
Ian Chappell wore a resigned smile as he walked back to the pavilion. He knew that his team’s writing was on the wall. Richards had broken the backbone of the Australian batting order with one arm.
The inaugural champions
Pacer Keith Boyce ran through the Australian middle-order but indecisive running between the wickets was their key nemesis. After playing more sensible cricket than some of their top-order batsmen, Jeff Thomson and Dennis Lillee threatened to pull off a miracle in the dying stages of the game.
Their 41-run stand also ended with a run out and the delirious West Indies fans rushed onto the pitch (a common sight during that era). Australia had dropped as many as five catches and had as many run outs.
In the following years, though, it was not just Richards’ fielding that was the most feared aspect of his repertoire.
The wounded Aussies picked smarted from this defeat in no time and ruthlessly crushed the West Indians at home later in the year. But by then, the West Indians had laid the foundations for being cricket’s supreme power, with Richards at the epicentre.
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