West Indian Summer Solstice

WI Captain Clive Lloyd accepts the 1975 World Cup trophy from the Duke of Edinburgh

In this week’s edition of In Search of West Indies Cricket, Roger Seymour looks at the highlights and forgotten moments of the 1975 World Cup Final.

In the 2030s, the following scenario will occur in homes in the Caribbean, the UK and North America. “Grandpa, what’s this?” the speaker will be a curious ten-year-old child of West Indian extract, and the item in question will be a slim clear plastic box measuring approximately 6” x 4”, within which will be an item of hard black plastic, consisting a reel of tape and an empty spool. The label will vary from “1975 World Cup” to “Kings of Cricket” to “West Indies One Day World Champs”.

Grandpa, who will probably be in his late 70s or early 80s, will smile broadly, retrieve the precious family heirloom, look into the eyes of his descendant and  answer, “It’s a VHS cassette tape of the highlights of the first ever cricket World Cup held in 1975 and won by the West Indies.”

“Can we look at it, Grandpa? Is it like those 20/20 matches Dad is always looking at from all over the World?”

“Sure we can, I have an old VCR in the study we can try. I hope it still works and the tape can still turn. This is way better than those 20/20 games.”

A few minutes later, they are settled in front of the television set. Miraculously, both the VCR and the tape have survived the test of time. An image appears on the screen. “Why are those two men dressed in white running up and down the pitch whilst all those people are standing so close, just watching?” queries the child.

“Oh my gosh! It’s near the end, we have to stop it and rewind….”

It’s now one of those back-in-the-day folklore nostalgia that West Indians never tire of. The first World Cup triumph. White clothing, slim bats, no helmets, no floodlights, spectators running on the field…

 

WI Captain Clive Lloyd accepts the 1975 World Cup trophy from the Duke of Edinburgh
WI Captain Clive Lloyd accepts the 1975 World Cup trophy from the Duke of Edinburgh

Cricket was the last major sport to organise a world championship, partly due to its conservative stewards and the logistics of organizing a World Test competition. The 1912 Triangular Tournament between Australia, South Africa and hosts England, had fallen victim to the English weather. It wasn’t until July 25, 1973 that the ICC agreed to organise its first World Cup, only three days before the final of the first Women’s Cricket World Cup, played at Edgbaston, Birmingham, England.

One day cricket had been introduced in the 1960s on the English County circuit to counter dwindling gates and waning interest in the game. It hadn’t caught the interest of the rest of the cricketing countries, and by the commencement of the 1975 tournament, of the 18 One Day Internationals (ODIs) on record, only three hadn’t involved England. Prudential Assurance, the ‘Pru”, sponsors of England’s ODIs since 1972 had presented the ICC with a cheque for £100,000 for sponsorship rights for the 60 Overs competition, to be held in England in June 1975.

The format was quite simple: eight teams, two groups of four, three round-robin matches in each group, with the top two qualifying for the semi-finals, and the winners of each group playing the runners-up from the other group. The teams were the six Test playing nations of England, Australia, West Indies, New Zealand, India and Pakistan; Sri Lanka, the best ICC Associate and East Africa. The East Africa team consisted of weekend club cricketers from Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania and Zambia. Africa’s cricketing powers Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) and South Africa were in exile for their apartheid policy. (Ironically, the dates set aside for the World Cup had previously been slated as a part of a South African tour of England). Each team was restricted to a squad of 14 players.

The fifteen matches – six first round matches in each group, semi-finals and final – were scheduled over a two-week span, with no pressure from TV broadcasters to influence the fixtures. The draw was done a year in advance with restrictions ensuring that Australia and England were separated in the initial round, as were India from Pakistan (who had not played each other since the 1965 Kashmir War), and Sri Lanka from East Africa. Thus, Group A consisted of England, India, New Zealand, and East Africa, whilst Group B included Australia, Pakistan, West Indies and Sri Lanka. The profits were to be split as follows: 10% to the hosts, 7.5% to the other participants and the remaining 37.5% to the ICC Associates and an international coaching fund. After a soggy May, the tournament began in brilliant sunshine which would grace the entire two weeks, resulting in no loss of play due to weather.

The West Indies team was announced on April 10, and read as follows: Clive Lloyd (Captain), Gordon Greenidge, Roy Fredericks, Alvin Kallicharran, Lawrence Rowe, Viv Richards, Sir Garry Sobers, Maurice Foster, Deryck Murray, Keith Boyce, Bernard Julien, Vanburn Holder, Andy Roberts and Lance Gibbs.

On Sunday June 1, only six days before the start of the tournament, Sir Garry pulled a groin muscle whilst playing for Littleborough in the Central Lancashire League and had to withdraw from the team. Warwickshire kindly agreed to release Rohan Kanhai to the desperate West Indian team, to be Sir Garry’s alternate. Earlier, Rowe had opted out with eye trouble and had been replaced by Collis King who was playing for Nelson in the Lancashire League.

On Saturday, June 7, the tournament began with four matches (all the teams were playing simultaneously during the first round). The West Indian fast bowlers Roberts (2 wickets), Julien (4) and Boyce (3) quickly disposed of Sri Lanka for 86 at Old Trafford. The West Indies, the bookmakers’ favourite, hit off the runs for the loss of Fredericks’ wicket in 20.4 overs, leaving enough time for an exhibition match. The following Wednesday at Edgbaston, the West Indies eked out a one-wicket victory with two balls to spare, over a very strong Pakistan side, in one of the most exciting matches ever in the history of the World Cup. Score: Pakistan 266 for 7 – Majid Khan 60, Mushtaq Mohammed 55, Wasim Raja 58. WI 267 for 9 – Lloyd 53, Kanhai 24, Murray 61 not out, Roberts 24 not out. The encounter with the men from Down Under took place at the Oval, Surrey, on Saturday, June 14. Ross Edwards 58 and Rod Marsh 52 not out, were the top run scorers in the 192 total, which WI passed in 46 overs for the loss of Fredericks 58, Greenidge 16 and Kallicharran 78. The latter entertained the large West Indian contingent on hand, with an exhilarating exhibition of stroke play. Dennis Lillee was the main recipient of this plundering, as Kallicharran’s last 35 runs came off of 10 Lillee deliveries – a combination of vicious hooks, cuts, pulls and drives – 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 1, 4, 6, 0, 4.

Semi-Finals, Wednesday June 18, Headingly, Leeds. England had been thrashed 4-1 in the previous winter’s Ashes Series, victims of the lethal pace of Jeff Thomson and Lillee, but here they lost to the late inclusion Gary Gilmour, who took the first six wickets to reduce England to rubble at 36 for 6, as they collapsed to 93 all out. At lunch, the hosts who had lost their appetite, were reeling at 52 for 8. At 73, Skipper Mike Denness was bowled for a defiant 27, and it was left to the last pair of Geoff Arnold, 18 not out, and Peter Lever, 5, to defend England’s pride. The lefthanded fast medium bowler Gilmour, a newcomer to the Australian side, opened the bowling (in place of Thomson) with Lillee. He bowled over the wicket from the Football Stand end where there was no sightscreen, and swung the ball both ways in the heavy atmosphere, as four of his five victims from inswingers fell to lbw decisions. Gilmour enjoyed the remarkable returns of 12 Overs, 6 Maidens, 14 Runs, 6 Wickets, in a single spell. In a game of shifting fortunes, England fought back valiantly. The fierce competitor, fast bowler John Snow, trapped the Chappell brothers, Ian and Greg, lbw, and Chris Old shattered the stumps of Rick McCosker, Edwards and Marsh, who was sixth out with the total on 39. Gilmour arrived at the wicket and 44 minutes later, the game was in the bag. Swinging wildly, he struck six 4s in his 28, sharing an unbroken partnership of 55 with the veteran Doug Walters, 20, who held the fort at the other end for an hour. The huge Yorkshire crowd rose in unison to applaud the stunning show by the Man of the Match, Gilmour, as Australia won by 4 wickets with 188 balls to spare.

Down in London, at the Oval, there was no such drama as the West Indies dispatched the New Zealanders. Lloyd won the toss and invited the Kiwis to bat against the tight West Indies attack of Julien, Roberts, Holder and Boyce. At lunch, they had crawled to 92 for 1 off of 29 overs, with Captain Glenn Turner, two centuries in the first round, and Hedley Howarth playing on his home county ground, the incumbent batsmen. Roberts claimed both of their wickets shortly after the resumption; Turner 36, caught by Kanhai at second slip, and Howarth 51, caught by Murray, as New Zealand capitulated for 158. The West Indies’ scoreline of 159 for 5, flatters to deceive. In spite of the early loss of Fredericks at 8, they were cruising along at 133 for 1, before a few mental lapses in concentration. The in-form Kallicharran struck seven 4s and one 6, in his knock of 72, on his way to a second consecutive Man of the Match award, whilst sharing a stand of 125, with Greenidge 55. The Kiwis were spared the task of bowling another 19.5 overs. The stage had been set for the Saturday, June 21 final at Lord’s, the Mecca of Cricket. Well, not quite. Peter Lush, Secretary of the Test and County Cricket Board (TCCB), had a problem to resolve. An Australian journalist, upset by the overflow of the English press corps monopolising the Press Box during the previous matches, even though the English team were not involved, had lodged a complaint. Lush dealt with the issue by holding a draw for seats in the Press Box, on the morning of the final.

Ian Chappell, won the toss and invited WI to bat before a packed house of 26,000 spectators, a large percentage of whom were of West Indian descent. With the score on 12, Fredericks hooked Lillee to the fine leg boundary for six, lost his footing, slipped and trod on his wicket. Kallicharran, arrived and signalled his intention to continue his fine run of form, by immediately striking two fours. It was not to be. He edged an outswinger from Gilmour, and Marsh the wicket-keeper, gleefully accepted the catch. Greenidge laboured for an hour and twenty minutes before giving Marsh his second catch, this time, off of Thomson. 50 for 3. Lloyd joined Kanhai as the match was beginning to drift in Australia’s direction.

Lloyd immediately went on the attack against the Australian fast bowlers. Chappell brought Lillee back from the nursery end and Lloyd greeted him with a boundary through mid-wicket, and pulled the predicted follow-up bouncer over backward square leg into the upper level of the Tavern Stand. The gauntlet had been thrown down, the battle was on and the West Indian supporters revelled in it. At 26, Lloyd was given a reprieve when he mistimed a short ball from Lillee and Edwards, the best Australian fieldsman, put down a difficult chance at mid-wicket. The 50 partnership was posted off 49 balls, with only six coming from Kanhai’s bat. Max Walker, whose initial seven overs had only cost 22 runs, returned to face the onslaught. His first delivery was dispatched in the direction of the pavilion, as Lloyd’s 50 came in 59 minutes. Walker experienced the full brutality of the assault, as his last five overs yielded 49 runs, including an effortless six from Lloyd, into the Grandstand, to raise the hundred partnership in 89 minutes. A pull off of Gilmour to the Mound Stand earned the description, “the stroke of a man knocking a thistle top off with a walking stick,” from BBC commentator John Arlott.

Kanhai, the 39-year-old wily fox, was content to play the supportive role, at one stage, going 11 overs without scoring. He too, had been the beneficiary of a rare lapse by the usually reliable Edwards who muffed a skier at point off of Gilmour. Needless to say, Kanhai executed several wonderful cover drives to the boundary.

Lloyd’s century came with a flashing cover drive, off of 82 balls in 100 minutes. The next over, he was caught down the leg side, by Marsh, off of Gilmour. The standing umpire, Dickie Bird, went across to the square leg umpire Tom Spencer and after a long deliberation, Lloyd was given out. As he returned to the pavilion, the entire ground rose in thunderous applause. The Australian side gathered at the pitch and followed suit. His innings of 102, had included twelve 4s and two massive 6s. As Chappell would later concede, “He just bludgeoned our fast bowlers that day.” The partnership with Kanhai had yielded 149 runs in an hour and 48 minutes.

Kanhai, in his last appearance in the Maroon cap, followed shortly afterwards, bowled by Gilmour. His valuable innings of 55 with eight 4s had lasted for two hours and 36 minutes. Richards 5, was dismissed in similar fashion; Gilmour’s third scalp in three overs, during his second spell. Boyce 34, Julien 26 not out, Murray 14, including a hook 6 off of Lillee, and Holder 4, added 80 priceless runs as WI accumulated 291 for 8. Gilmour was the pick of the bowlers with 5 for 48.

At that time, 291 was a daunting target, but it should be noted that the Australians with their very experienced batting line up had taken 334 off the Sri Lankans, albeit a weaker bowling attack than that of the West Indies.

Boyce, the first change bowler, got the initial breakthrough, when he found the edge of McCosker’s bat, and Kallicharran, at second slip, took the catch low down to his left at ankle height. 25 for 1. Chappell joined the dangerous Alan Turner, who had plundered Sri Lanka for a hundred before lunch. They had added 56 in even time when Chappell made the first of three calls that he would regret for the rest of his life.

The young Antiguan, Richards, a virtual newcomer to international cricket, had experienced a quiet World Cup with the bat. “Smokin’ Joe” to his team-mates, because of the similarity of his physique to the boxer Joe Frazier, who was fielding at short mid-wicket, sprung on the ball. His swift throw shattered the stumps and found Turner 40, short of his ground.

Greg Chappell, Ian’s younger brother, was the new batsman. Twenty-four minutes later, Ian played a ball to backward square where Viv was then fielding. There was a stop-start hesitation between the brothers, whilst Viv pounced once again, plugging the stumps at the striker’s end with Greg well short of the crease. 115 for 3. Walters joined his Captain in the middle, and the two most experienced Australians resumed the chase. At 162 for 3 with 21 overs remaining, the Aussies were well positioned.

Chappell played a delivery from Lloyd to short mid-wicket and set off on a run, then noticing it was Richards again, he hesitated. In his haste, Richards fumbled and Chappell committed. In a flash Richards swooped on the ball, as Kanhai, standing at cover, realising that Walters had hardly moved, frantically pointed towards Murray. Richards spun on his heels and fired a ferocious return three feet above the stumps at the bowler’s end, which Lloyd collected and broke the stumps in one smooth action. Chappell 62, continued on to the pavilion. Richie Benaud, the Australian commentator with the BBC was livid, “The old rule of never run on a misfield still holds good.”

Smokin’ Joe had thrown the knockout punch. The crowd’s celebration of cheering, dancing, whistling and drumming was captured by a John Arlott expression during that memorable day, “The stands are seething with leaping West Indian delight.”

When Lloyd bowled Walters with the first ball of his eleventh over shortly afterwards, the die appeared to have been cast. Boyce removed Marsh 11, Edwards 28, and Gilmour for 14, caught by Kanhai on the cover boundary. Kanhai clasped the ball tightly as delirious West Indian fans surrounded him on the field. 231 for 8. When Holder plugged the wicket from backward square to run out Walker, 58 runs were required from seven overs.

The 1970 Australian side was a swashbuckling crew with a never-say-die attitude which the last pair of Lillee and Thommo demonstrated. Swinging lustily and running at every opportunity, they mounted a serious challenge. Twenty-four runs were required off 11 balls with eight West Indians scattered around the boundary. Thommo chipped a no-ball off of Holder, directly into the hands of Fredericks at cover, the only close fielder, and all hell broke loose. Neither the commentators nor the invading crowd had heard the no-ball call. Fredericks, well aware of the situation, noticed Lillee backing up too far and threw at the non-striker’s end. His throw missed the stumps and disappeared into the mass of stampeding feet, as the alert Australian duo began running furiously. The pitch remained the only part of the ground, not invaded, as the batsmen scampered back and forth. The cautious Thommo quelled Lillee’s enthusiasm for more runs. When order was restored, there was confusion about the number of runs to be awarded. Umpire Spencer suggested two runs.

“Pig’s arse! We’ve been running up and down here all afternoon,” quipped the glib Thommo. At the other end, the equally witty Lillee responded to umpire Bird’s query about how many runs they had taken, with the gibe, “You should be counting, but I made it about 17.” Finally they were awarded 4. In the confusion of the invasion, Umpire Bird had his trademark white hat swiped off his head and several of the players’ sweaters taken from around his waist. The tension was mounting. The previous delivery, Thommo had dived into the crease whilst completing a second run, just managing to nip Boyce’s return from fine leg.

Three balls later, following a leg-bye and a Lillee single, with 17 required from 9 balls, Thommo swung wildly at Holder and missed. The calm underhand throw from wicket-keeper Murray, scattered the stumps to run out Thommo. It was the first time in international cricket that a team had lost five wickets in an innings via the run-out route.

The inevitable crowd invasion ensued. Murray grabbed the stumps, as the players sprinted for the pavilion. Thommo had his pads removed, unknowingly, in the melee, whilst the unfortunate Keith Boyce, rescued from under a pile of souvenir hunters by a few English ‘bobbies’, lost his boots.

The match, which had commenced at 11 am, finished at 8.43 pm, on the longest day of the year, the Summer Solstice. Prince Philip presented the Prudential Trophy to Man of the Match, WI Captain, Clive Lloyd. The first page of the modern age of cricket had been written.

 

Aftermath

The match had been televised live in Australia and a young television magnate was shown the ratings for the broadcast. Kerry Packer’s interest was piqued. The WICBC never rewarded the West Indian heroes with a bonus. Two commemorative stamps designed by Guyanese Cletus Henriques were issued by Guyana and several of the West Indian territories.

A year later, Dickie Bird was travelling on a bus in south London, when he noticed the conductor sporting a familiar, white hat. He asked the wearer about its origin. Smiling, he replied, “Man, haven’t you heard of Mr Dickie Bird? This is one of his hats. I took it off his head at the World Cup final. We all ran onto the field and I won the race.”

Trivia question: Can you name the West Indian players from the 1975 Final who also played in the 1979 and 1983 Finals?

 

 

 

 

 

 

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