“Lloyd, however, was in a different zone. Walker was wafted through mid-wicket, with an almost straight bat, into the Grand Stand. ‘The stroke of a man knocking a thistle top with a walking stick,’ according to John Arlott. The following ball was cracked through the point and cover for another boundary”
It was Roy Fredericks who set the World Cup final alight. Or was it?
A spectacular hook off a Dennis Lillee bouncer that made for his throat, and it landed in the crowd beyond long leg. But then he overbalanced, tumbled and disturbed the stumps with his foot. 12 for 1.
Alvin Kallicharran, who had murdered the Australian bowling in the group match with a flurry of boundaries, fell to Garry Gilmour. The left-armer had been given the new ball alongside Lillee in the semi-final, and the six-wicket haul meant that he continued to share the cherry. And Kallicharran, who had hit 31 off just 9 Lillee deliveries in the earlier showdown between the sides, chased a ball away from the stumps to be caught by Rodney Marsh.
Gordon Greenidge was fighting hard. At the other end, the wise grey head of Rohan Kanhai bent over the balls carefully. The threatening Australian attack was blunted for a while, but the score came to a relative standstill apart from a few Kanhai drives that split the field. And then, after 80 uncomfortable minutes, Greenidge nicked Jeff Thomson. A tumbling Marsh clung on to it.
West Indies were 50 for 3. The huge swarm of spectators who had thronged Lord’s to cheer for the Islanders were subdued into a hush.
And now in stalked the SuperCat.
The only way out of the crisis was through a miraculous innings. And Clive Lloyd provided more than that.
Lillee ran in, fast and furious. Lloyd flicked him past mid-wicket for four, hooked him for six and then drove him straight back to the screen.
Perhaps he went just a tad overboard. Lloyd tried an ambitious pull again, ending the stroke with one hand, and the most expensive of spills took place. Ross Edwards, generally a superb fielder, got his hands to it at mid-wicket, but could not hold on. Out popped the ball and with that the match.
Kanhai was as much as the spectator to what followed as the seething waves of West Indian delight in the stands. Greg Chappell was glanced fine to bring up the 100 of the innings. The 50 partnership was up. Kanhai had contributed 6 of it.
Max Walker was lofted straight down the ground and Lloyd had his half-century.
And now Ross Edwards spilt his second catch of the day, another extremely difficult one at the cover boundary, this time off Kanhai. The fortunes were showing a marked preference for the men from the Caribbeans. Kanhai rubbed salt into the wounds by neatly bisecting the cover and mid-off for a classy boundary. The veteran batsman was soon given another reprieve when Lillee dropped him at long leg off Walker, yet another taxing opportunity.
Lloyd, however, was in a different zone. Walker was wafted through mid-wicket, with an almost straight bat, into the Grand Stand. ‘The stroke of a man knocking a thistle top with a walking stick,’ according to John Arlott. The following ball was cracked through the point and cover for another boundary.
He was particularly severe on Walker, driving him through the off-side repeatedly, and sometimes playing it late enough to send it to the right of point. The last five Walker overs were plundered for 44 runs.
A lofted drive off Gilmour and Lloyd was racing through the nineties. And a cover drive to the sweeper saw him finishing the single and raising his bat. A spectacular century off just 82 balls with 12 fours and 2 sixes, and the score was 190 for 3. The 100 by Lloyd scored off the 140 runs when at the crease. Kanhai was yet to get to his fifty.
A faint tickle down the leg side off Gilmour brought the end to this extraordinary display of fireworks. Umpire Dickie Bird deliberated for a while with his colleague Tom Spencer to ascertain that the ball had carried, but ultimately the finger was raised.
102 from 85 balls, having hauled West Indies from 50 for 3 to 199 for 4. He walked back to standing ovation, raising his bat as he walked out. Even the Australians stood there as a group, applauding the magnificent effort.
Gilmour followed up his semi-final heroics with 5 for 48, that included Kallicharran in the beginning, Lloyd, Kanhai and Viv Richards in quick succession in the middle, and Deryck Murray in the end. But, the blistering captain’s knock ensured a formidable 291-run total for the West Indies.
Ricky Ponting would destroy the Indian attack in 2003 with a 121-ball unbeaten 140, but he walked in after Adam Gilchrist and Matthew Hayden had put on 105 in 14 overs. MS Dhoni did essay a match-winning unbeaten 91 in 2011, but the situation, though tricky, was not quite as perilous when he had walked out to bat at 114 for 3.
Lloyd’s innings, in the first ever World Cup final, remains the most incredible captain’s knock in the title round, played against all odds, that took the match by the scruff of the neck and turned it around in the most astounding manner.