The Australia-West Indies rivalry winds back to 1930 when the two countries had first locked horns in a Test series. Initially, it was the Australians who dominated their clashes; it took 40 years for the Caribbean’s to match the standards of these opponents. In 1990-91, Australia made their sixth tour to West Indies for a five-match Test series. In the last three home series against Australia, the Windies had registered two wins and a loss. West Indian legendary captain at the end of the series would go on to announce that it was his final appearance at home in the whites. Richards, considered as one of the most devastating batsmen of all-time, was a renowned figure in the longest format as well.
Even during his captaincy, Richards ensured the responsibility did not take a toll on his batting. While he averaged otherwise above 50, during the matches when he was the captain, the average dipped to 45.11, which did not do any bad for him or the team. Prior to the 1991 series, Richards had led in 40 Tests and scored 2,518 runs. It was for one final series Richards would lead at home. After the hosts began with a draw in the opening Test, they managed to beat Australia in the second match at Georgetown. That particular game was followed by another draw and a win for the West Indies. When Richards’ men walked into the fifth Test at his home ground of Antigua Recreation Ground, St John’s in Antigua, they had taken an inevitable lead in the five-Test series with a win in the fourth Test.
Having lost the series already, Australians had nothing but to play for pride. There was no pressure and expectations. Hence, the visitors seemed to be more positive and relaxed. The spectators stormed into the Antigua Stadium in thousands to witness their hero, Richards for one last time. That forced a slight pressure on the Windies, owning to give Richards a happy farewell at his hometown. Australian captain, Allan Border, won the toss and elected to bat first. Although West Indies pacers, Patrick Patterson and Curtley Ambrose struck removed out of form West Indies opener, Geoff Marsh, and David Boon early in the innings, Mark Taylor along with his captain, Border, added 116 runs off 35 overs.
At the end of day 1, Australia had piled up 355 runs on the board and that happened to be the highest first-day total recorded in a Test in the West Indies.
The West Indian spin attack of Carl Hooper and Richards was not at its very best and that made a difference that eventually worked in the favour of the Australians. Dean Jones and Mark Waugh’s stand yielded another crucial 128 runs and more than half of the runs came off boundaries; that showed Australia’s dominance against a world-class West Indian bowling attack. Along with a poor show with the ball, West Indies’s fielding was sloppy too. Mark Waugh, when on 97, was dropped by Richards who had an opportunity of a caught and bowled. Waugh went on to record his second Test century. Australia’s innings ended on Day two when they were bowled out for 403.
In reply, the Australian fast bowler Craig McDermott created early problems for the hosts. He removed West Indian opener Gordon Greenidge when the Windies had just 10 runs on the board. A few overs later, the in-form batsman, Richie Richardson, became McDermott’s second victim. Merv Hughes was the next Australian bowler to strike; he removed Carl Hopper and that left the hosts at 35 for 3 and brought the local hero, Richards in the middle. The legendary batsman was not destined to leave a mark in his last Test at home. He would go on to become McDermott’s third prey. It was Richards’ first duck on his home soil of Antigua and overall, it was his 10th duck in his Test career.
After a flawless inning of 84, where Haynes smashed 15 fours, he was trapped by a toe-yorker from McDermott in front of the pads. On day 2, a total of 15 wickets well – five Australian and 10 West Indians wickets. The visitors closed day 2 at 6 for 1. West Indies’ ninth wicket pair helped them to avoid the follow-on. The situation just did not seem to go Richards’’ way in his final game at home. In the second innings, the hosts came back strong. The pace duo of Walsh and Ambrose swept seven Aussie batsmen. Although they were bundled out for 265 runs, their first innings lead meant, they had managed to set a target of 455 runs for the West Indies.
With more than two days left in the Test, Greenidge and Haynes showed glimpses of an expected thriller chase. They put up 76 runs for the opening stand but both were run out by lunch on the fourth day. The Test ended in a disappointment for Richards who was dismissed cheaply for just two runs by giving a lobbed catch to mid-wicket off his counterpart Border’s bowling. It was Richards’ first loss in six Tests at his home venue. He later announced that the fifth Test was his final match at home for West Indies.
It was not the best farewell for him, but a series win in his last series at home must have cheered him up. West Indies later in 1991 toured England, which was Richards’ final series for West Indies. The five-match Test series ended in a draw and Richards in his final series ended as the fourth highest scorer with 376 runs in five Tests. He ended his Test career captaining in 50 Tests and when he led West Indies, he managed to score 3,068 runs at 45.11 and had bagged 17 wickets as well.