Published on December 5th, 2018 | by Anindya Dutta0
Legends Are Born in Twos – Clive Lloyd and Ajit Wadekar (Part 3)🕓 Reading time: 7 minutes
Parts 1 and 2 of this series traced the careers of Debut Twins – Ajit Wadekar and Clive Lloyd until the point that Wadekar’s career faded after peaking early while Lloyd’s was beginning to gather steam after he emerged worse off from their 1971 clash. The concluding part traces the peak of Lloyd’s career until at the end of his direct association with the sport, the threads of the two careers of our Debut Twins would once again be linked through their deeds.
The Two series in 1976 That Changed Everything
West Indies won the first Test of the series at Barbados against a dazed Indian team that had barely recovered from a 62-hour journey from New Zealand. They were fortunate to draw the second Test at Port of Spain. Then occurred what PG Wodehouse would have referred to as a ‘concatenation of circumstances’, a series of events that would set the history of cricket on a different trajectory from where it was headed.
Incessant rain in Guyana forced the West Indies Board to shift the third Test back to Trinidad. So a few days after the second Test, the teams found themselves once again facing each other at Port of Spain.
With Trinidad having the reputation of aiding spinners, Lloyd went into the match with three spinners – Imtiaz Ali, Albert Padmore, Raphick Jumadeen – and a sole pace bowler in Michael Holding. On the fourth day, Lloyd declared the innings leaving India to get 403 to win the Test in the fourth innings. India had never scored more than 200 to win a match in the fourth innings and the only team to successfully chase more than 400 had been Bradman’s 1948 Invincibles. Against all odds, India chased it down. The West Indies spinners had bowled 107 overs in the fourth innings and failed to make an impact. On the same pitch, the Indian spinners had taken 18 of the 20 wickets to fall. Lloyd was disillusioned. Something had to give.
For the final Test at Sabina Park, West Indies retained only one spinner and inducted Wayne Daniel into the side. With India at 200 for 1, Michael Holding received specific instructions from Lloyd. The pitch had just been relaid and a ridge had appeared at the northern end. Holding came in round the wicket and aimed at the batsmen.
The Guardian report says it all: “The innings was wrecked by a fiery spell from Holding on a pitch which suddenly came to life. Gaekwad caught a vicious bouncer on the left ear and was taken to the hospital. Gundappa Vishwanath was caught off his gloves from another bouncer which dislocated and broke the middle finger of his right hand and Brijesh Patel joined the casualty list when Holder found the ridge and sent him to the hospital for stitches to a gnashed face.”
At 306 for 6, Bedi declared in disgust. The West Indies took an 85-runs lead before being dismissed. Bedi told the umpires that the Indian innings was now closed when the visitors had taken a 12-runs lead and lost 5 batsmen. There were no batsmen who could walk on to the field. West Indies won the match after batting for less than two overs. All 17 members of the Indian squad had fielded at one point in the match and several boarded the plane back home with their heads and torsos bandaged. Sunil Gavaskar was to write about Lloyd’s tactics: “That was not great captaincy, it was barbarism.”
Be that as it may, it was to be very apparent to all who cared to make the not so subtle connection, that Clive Lloyd had copied Tiger Pataudi’s Spin Strategy and made it his own, with one major difference – his strategy would be built on speed. The Pace Strategy was now in play and would forever change the course of Test cricket.
The tour to England that followed in the summer of ’76 was the time for Lloyd and his boys to show that the victory against India and their new found pace strategy was here to stay. It may well have proved more difficult but for the ill-advised pre-tour comment by English captain Tony Grieg. Without possibly realizing the racist and colonial undertones of his comment, specially coming from the mouth of a white South African, Grieg flippantly sent out what he thought was a challenge: “I think you must remember that the West Indians, these guys, if they get on top, they are magnificent cricketers, but if they’re down, they grovel. And I intend, with the help of Closey [Brian Close] and a few others, to make them grovel.”
That comment got the whole West Indies side united against a common enemy. The word ‘grovel’ had connotations that were far from acceptable, when blacks for centuries had had to grovel before their white masters. As Gordon Greenidge put it, “It was now combat, it was now a battle where there was no way England could have won.”
West Indies blew England away, 3-0 in the 5-Test series followed by a 3-0 clean sweep in the ODIs that followed. Michael Holding claimed 28-wickets in the Test series, Vivian Richards scored a staggering 829 runs.
It was now the West Indies doing the intimidation against their past colonial masters. Life had turned full circle and Tone Greig’s ‘grovel’ comment had unleashed the beast. It would be a full decade and a half before it could be contained.
Clive Lloyd and his Caribbean Empire
As though Andy Roberts, Michael Holding (by now having earned the moniker ‘Whispering Death’) and Wayne Daniel were not intimidating enough, suddenly the West Indies would become a veritable assembly line producer of menacing fast bowlers. Joining them would be 6’8” tall ‘Big Bird’ Joel Garner, the pocket dynamo who terrorized all who came before him – Malcolm Marshall, and the dangerous Colin Croft. The world’s most ferocious pace battery was in operation.
India’s successful run chase at Port of Spain was truly a turning point for Lloyd and the West Indies. Clive Lloyd would captain the West Indies in 57 Test matches after that, winning 30 and losing only 4. It would invite comparisons with the Invincibles and in the eyes of many, achieve far more.
But Lloyd’s success was not built merely on fast bowling. It was true that taking 20 opposition wickets was key, but the West Indies were unbeatable in this period because right after the wickets shattered or before they did, a succession of the world’s greatest batsmen would bring down destruction upon the opposition. With Gordon Greenidge and Desmond Haynes at the top followed by a combination of Lloyd himself, Richards, Kallicharran, Larry Golmes or whoever else was wielding the willow with a swagger and a flourish, backed by a fielding outfit that allowed no catches and few runs to get past them, the pressure was unrelenting.
But there were to be bumps on the road for the West Indies and the entire cricketing fraternity before the meteoric rise in fortunes.
In April 1977, Clive Lloyd, Viv Richards, Michael Holding and Andy Roberts signed up for Kerry Packer’s World Series Cricket along with all the top Australian, English, South African and Pakistani players. In an age when players were poorly paid and struggled to make a living from the game, the offers were too good to resist. Graham Marsh, the golfer brother of Rodney Marsh earned more per year than the whole Australian Test team put together. John Snow, the English fast bowler pointed out that the janitor outside Lord’s earned more per week than he did playing cricket.
Lloyd accepted AUS$ 90,000 plus expenses per year for a 3-season contract, three times as much per year as the West Indies cricket board was paying him. Holding was earning US$ 200 per Test match. He was offered US$ 27,000 a year for three seasons.
World Series Cricket transformed the personal lives of the West Indian cricketers. In 1961 Sir Frank Worrell had to sell his house in Barbados to survive financially. He had just returned as a hero from a tour of Australia before that. Lloyd and his boys were determined to grab this opportunity to change the financial future for themselves and their successors and ensure that what happened with Worrell would not be repeated.
For two years the players enjoyed the fruits of their labours with the WSC, united as a team, got to know each other better, and in the process became an outfit that learned to beat Australia. Lloyd was to say: “We saw for the first time that the Australians had a soft underbelly, they weren’t as tough as they seemed. They had some great cricketers, but we found out that they suffered under pressure. That was a huge discovery.” Finally, the scars of Lillee and Thomson could be wiped out.
So when the 1979 World Cup in England came around, the hunger to be World Champions across both formats was gnawing away inside Lloyd’s team. When the teams lined up at Lord’s for the start of the event, the West Indies was the only team that was back in full strength, adding to the roster men like Alvin Kallicharran who had carried the torch while the main players were away. A few weeks later when Lloyd held aloft the Prudential World Cup on the Lord’s balcony for the second successive time, it seemed clear that nothing could now stop this team from reaching for the skies. And there could be no better start for this journey than a contest against arch rivals Australia on their home turf.
This was a new world. The team won the ODI series and AUS $ 32,000 with it. They then drew the first Test at Brisbane (without Lloyd who was having knee surgery), then at Melbourne by 10-wickets and at Adelaide by a crushing 408 runs. Colin Croft, Michael Holding, Andy Roberts and Joel Garner took 55 of the 56 Australian wickets to fall. Clive Lloyd’s Pace Quartet was in full flow and they had Lloyd, Richards, Greenidge, Haynes and Kallicharran to put on a show with the bat. By the time the West Indies left Australia, they were on top of the world and financially richer by AUS $140,000 in prize money.
Then they landed in New Zealand. In one of the most acrimonious encounters in the history of cricket, the West Indies threatened to leave the tour midway, more than once, because of extraordinarily incompetent umpiring and racial vilification. When they did finally leave, it was after gifting the Kiwis, by far the worst team in world cricket at the time, a 1-0 series victory. But that would be the last series Clive Lloyd would lose as captain.
Over the next five years, the West Indies under Clive Lloyd would rule the cricketing world. Over the course of 40 Test matches, Lloyd would only taste two Test match losses, both against Australia –one in 1981-82 and the other in 1984-85. During this period the West Indies played nine series and did not lose a single one, winning eight and drawing one.
Between March 1984 and December 1984, Lloyd’s team won eleven consecutive Test matches, a record that would only be broken by Steve Waugh’s Australians 15-years later. With his team reaching dizzying heights and the body starting to protest at the age of 40, Clive Lloyd decided to pass on the mantle to Vivian Richards and ride out in the glorious sunset after the 1984 Australia series.
In a captaincy career spanning 10-years, Lloyd led the West Indies 74 times, his team emerging victorious on 36 instances, losing only 12-times in that decade, staying undefeated 84% of the time. In ODIs, Lloyd captained the West Indies 84 times winning 64 matches to retire with a 76%victory record including two World Cups. He remains the most successful West Indies captain of all time.
The two cricketing careers that had kicked off together that winter day in 1966 would remarkably end back on a single path three decades later. Wadekar would re-emerge from cricketing obscurity to manage the Indian team between 1992 and 1994, a period in which his boys remained undefeated in 14 straight Test matches. Lloyd followed suit between 1996 and 1999 with only a slightly inferior record of 3 losses in 15 engagements as manager of the West Indies side.
Joined by the cricketing umbilical, separated by fortunes, reunited by destiny – Clive Lloyd and Ajit Wadekar – the fairy tale of a remarkable pair of cricketing twins.