(Reprinted from CWI)
Throughout the 2019 World Cup group stages, we will be publishing an 8-part series to reminisce on famous West Indies victories against Pakistan, Australia, South Africa, England, Bangladesh, New Zealand, India and Sri Lanka in World Cup history.
In this fourth installment Michael Holding, Colin Croft and Clive Lloyd revisit the 1979 World Cup finals two iconic moments; the Sir Vivian Richards and Collis King partnership and Joel Garner’s five-wicket haul.
We played three World Cups and got to three finals which for a long time was unmatched until Australia broke the record during the 2007 World Cup.
However unlike Australia, the West Indies is not one country. So the task of getting different islanders and their personalities to play together and accomplish what we did, is an achievement that is bigger than cricket for the Caribbean people.
We will always be able the claim our region of just over 5 million people won two World Cups.
Coming into 1979 tournament we were now favorites and were ready to live up to the favourites tag, because the team had shown in test cricket we had strengthened.
The original four-prong pace attack had formed with introduction of Joel Garner and Colin Croft, plus new exciting young batsmen such as Desmond Haynes, Larry Gomes and Collis King had entered the setup.
After the early loss of wickets, once we got the score over 200, we were always confident that with our bowling attack, we could defend it and put England under pressure chasing in the final.
A final is a one-off, Clive Lloyd always used to tell us that anyone can win a final. It’s how you get to that final that gives you confidence to win that game.
Personally the hardest game for me was the semi-final versus Pakistan. Despite West Indies making 293 which in those days was a lot of runs, Pakistan then made 250 in the chase.
There was a time when Zaheer Abbas and Majid Khan were batting, they were hitting the bowlers everywhere.
Fortunately, I got both of them out and Javed Miandad out leg before, first delivery. I remember it like it was yesterday and those wickets changed the complexion of the game.
We had it a little difficulty batting first in the final being 99 for four at one stage. The partnership with Sir Viv and King altered proceedings and if it wasn’t for them, our tremendous bowling attack wouldn’t have had such a big score to defend.
Bob Willis told me after the final, there was no way West Indies were better than England by 92 runs. What happened as is the case in sports, special performances by Sir Viv, Collis King and Garner simply overwhelmed them.
To this day I still rate Collis King’s innings as the best one-day knock I’ve ever seen.
By 1979 almost the entire team was playing in England and had great experience in English conditions.
For me personally playing for Lanchashire from 1976-82, that county-side had a reputation as a good one-day team so I got great preparation in the format leading into the World Cup.
I didn’t see a lot of the Richards and King partnership. I was as nervous as anything after we lost those early wickets. I was looking all over the dressing room for newspapers and magazines to concentrate on something other than the cricket.
I started watching until last five overs when it is obvious we were in a strong position and that’s when I saw Viv and Collis really tear into the attack.
Joel’s control of his yorker was fantastic. He used to drop it on batters insteps and he was ahead of his time. You hear people talking about bowling Yorkers and it pitching outside the popping crease.
A good yorker is one that hits a batsman on his back toe and very few bowlers in history of limited overs cricket did it as consistently as Garner. Despite the massive change in batting skill in modern limited overs cricket, I doubt many would have been able to handle his Yorkers well today.