There are a number of reasons why Viv Richards’ knock of 189 runs against England in 1984 is considered by many to be the greatest innings in One-Day International cricket. Many years before the T20 format came into the picture and changed the way the game is played, the West Indies great put on an exhibition of power hitting during an unforgettable day at the Old Trafford.
The Windies toured England in 1984 to play three ODIs and five Tests. Having tasted an unexpected defeat against India in the World Cup final the previous year, the mighty West Indies had put in one solid performance after another to reaffirm their status as the top team in the world. Heading into the England tour, they had defeated Australia at home in the ODI and Test series and were confident of carrying forward their red-hot form.
However, things didn’t start off as planned for Clive Lloyd and his men in England. Electing to bat first in the opener at Manchester, West Indies found themselves in a deep hole at 102/7. The hosts, whose bowling attack comprised of Bob Willis, Ian Botham, Neil Foster, Geoff Miller, and Derek Pringle, seemed set to begin the series on a bright note.
There was one obstacle in front of England, though. And it was a huge one.
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Richards had walked in to bat at No 4 with the score at 11/2. He had stood at the non-striker’s end – leaning on his bat, legs crossed, collar raised, chewing gum – and seen his teammates come and go in a procession. Desmond Haynes, Gordon Greenidge, Richie Richardson, Larry Gomes, Lloyd, Jeffrey Dujon... none of them could get going.
To get his team anywhere close to a respectable total, Richards had to do something truly special. What he went on to achieve, though, far exceeded anyone’s expectations.
The right-hander first got together with Eldine Baptiste to add 59 runs for the eighth wicket. England then removed Baptiste and Joel Garner in quick succession to once again get a firm grip on the match. But from there on, it was a Viv Richards show all the way.
From 166/9, Richards and Michael Holding put on an unbeaten stand of 106 runs for the last wicket (which is the highest 10th wicket partnership in ODIs to date) to help West Indies finish with 272/9 in their quota of 55 overs. While Holding remained not-out on 12 off 27 balls, Richards ended up with 189 runs off just 170 deliveries.
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The then 32-year-old was at his imperious best, smashing 21 fours and five sixes at a strike-rate of 111.17. He scored 69.48% of his team’s runs, which remains the highest percentage of runs scored by a batsman in a completed ODI innings. It was also the highest individual score by a batsman in ODI cricket at that time.
Richards was particularly severe on Botham (11-0-67-2), smacking the legendary all-rounder for huge sixes on the leg side in trademark fashion. He had brought up his century off 112 deliveries. He scored the next 89 runs in just 58 balls. The world simply wasn’t used to seeing such audacity and aggression by batsmen those days. But again, Richards was always a cut above the rest.
West Indies then went to on bowl England out for 168 runs to register a comfortable 104-run victory. The hosts could manage to score just two runs more than what was West Indies’ score when Richards and Holding got together at the crease for West Indies.
After winning the ODI series 2-1, West Indies stamped their authority by completing a 5-0 whitewash in the Tests. Despite the visitors’ exploits as a team, though, it’s fair to say that Richards 189 was the highlight of the tour.
Here are highlights of that epic knock by Richards: