We continue our series of looking back at all 11 cricket World Cup Finals. In this second instalment, our focus is on the 1979 World Cup Final contested between defending champions West Indies and hosts England at the same venue which hosted the first – Lord's cricket ground.
By 1979 West Indies were the uncrowned kings of cricket and they were in possession of one of the most intimidating pace bowling line-ups in the history of the game. Their batting line-up was also bedecked with great names such as Desmond Haynes, Gordon Greenidge, Clive Lloyd and the greatest of them all, Vivian Richards.
1979 - England vs West Indies (Lord's)
It was their captain Lloyd who was the star of the 1975 Final but Richards had also played a key part by orchestrating three run-outs. But now, it was time for King Viv to take the centerstage with the bat and give another demonstration of his batting prowess.
West Indies batted first, just as they had done in 1975. England had no respite as Viv Richards decided to unleash his genius on the hosts' bowling attack. Interestingly, the man who joined him in putting the English bowlers to the sword was somebody relatively unknown in the history of West Indian cricket – Collis King.
This lesser-known right-hander batted with such aggression that even King Viv, usually the most devastating opponent of bowlers in the world, couldn't match his flair. While the legendary Antiguan scored a magnificent 138 off 157 balls, King played a blistering knock of 86 off just 66 balls.
West Indies ended up with a score of 286/9 in the stipulated 60 overs. England had a tough task in front of them. Chasing 287 was difficult enough in those days, but when a team has a bowling attack consisting of Andy Roberts, Michael Holding, Joel Garner and Colin Croft arrayed against them, it is a huge mountain to climb.
The English opening partnership was of Geoffrey Boycott and Mike Brearley. The former is a legend of the game but batting aggressively was never something he was known for. Brearley, on the other hand, is a figure renowned for his captaincy, not batting. The pair batted at a pace which wouldn't have been out of place in a Test match, something not suited to an ODI contest.
There is one moment of the game that has become famous and gave birth to one of cricket's biggest conspiracy theories. Boycott, at one stage, decided to take the attack to the opposition and target the part-time off-spin of Vivian Richards. In an attempt to go over the top, the great English opener stepped out and mistimed a lofted shot which gave the West Indies captain, Lloyd an easy chance at mid-on. But he dropped it!
This meant that the Boycott-Brearley duo continued to bat in their merry way and put on a partnership of 129 runs for the first wicket. The problem, however, was that they had consumed nearly two-thirds of the innings in the process. The match was firmly in control of West Indies by then and England, everntually, got bowled out for 194 in 51 overs with Joel Garner picking up five wickets.
A lot of people conjectured that the drop of Boycott by Lloyd was deliberate to extend the stay of the dogged England batsman at the crease. Lloyd denied the charge but did admit that as a strategy, it would not have been bad. Till this day, there is a debate over the grassing of the catch by West Indian captain. Did he do it on purpose? The question is still asked.
Whatever may have been the case, the second consecutive World title cemented West Indies' reputation as the world's best side even further. For England, it was the first of three defeats in World Cup Finals.