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Viv Richards
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Cricket World Cup moments: Viv Richards produces masterclass in 1979 final

We take a look back at the 1979 Cricket World Cup final, contested by England and West Indies at Lord’s.

West Indies came into the tournament as the reigning champions following an enthralling final against Australia in the first ever World Cup four years earlier.

Clive Lloyd scored a majestic century to help his side reach 291/8 from their 60 overs, before Australia fell 17 runs short in the penultimate over.

Richards had managed to run out three of Australia’s top-order batsmen, with Alan Turner, Ian and Greg Chappell all making their way back to the pavilion courtesy of Richards.

By the time 1979 came around, West Indies were even stronger.

The opening pair of Gordon Greenidge and Desmond Haynes was a formidable proposition, Richards and Lloyd were in the top-order and they had some outstanding pace bowlers in Andy Roberts, Joel Garner and Michael Holding.

The final saw West Indies take on England and the man from Antigua delivered.

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Richards century defies England

Viv Richards

England won the toss and decided to bowl first, with the belief that the pitch would do more first up.

Greenidge was run out early on, Chris Old claimed the wickets of Haynes and Lloyd, and Mike Hendrick clean bowled Alvin Kallicharran. At 99/4, the decision to bowl first looked a shrewd one.

Richards was still in and far from fluent early in his innings, with the inconsistent Collis King joining him at number six.

The pair guided West Indies to 125/4 at lunch, with a further 26 overs to go. Richards, who hadn’t scored a century in his previous 50 innings, had done the hard work.

The shackles were well and truly released after lunch as Richards and King combined to score 139 runs in just 21 overs.

It was Richards who marshalled the innings, while King was given license to tee off, scoring 86 from 66 balls including 10 fours and three sixes.

England had their four front-line bowlers of Ian Botham, Hendrick, Old and Phil Edmonds but the part-time options of Geoffrey Boycott, Graham Gooch and Wayne Larkins were needed to make up the other 12 overs.

Those overs went for 86 runs, which was possibly the defining factor of the final.

Richards went on to score an unbeaten 138 and signed off the innings by walking over to the off side and flicking Hendrick over deep-square-leg for six. 

West Indies had amassed an imposing total of 286/9, and England were left to wonder how such a promising situation had turned into the Viv Richards show.

England left ruing lbw decision

It could have been so different for England, particularly if they had managed to dismiss Richards early in his innings.

Hendrick thought he had done so when Richards had made just 22, as his delivery thudded into the pad of the batsman, who had walked across his stumps.

The decision was not out and the England team were convinced they had their man. It wasn’t to be, and Richards duly capitalised on a moment of fortune.

Viv Richards

It was an opportunity to have West Indies five down before lunch and to expose a long tail. 

The last four batsmen didn’t score a run, and the brilliance of King’s innings may not have been possible without Richards at the other end.

But it was ultimately a hard-luck story for England, and what followed from Joel Garner in their reply could certainly not be put down to luck.

Joel Garner brilliance

Chasing 287 against the best pace attack in world cricket was an improbable task, but England were in the game when opening batsmen Mike Brearley and Boycott scored half centuries.

The pair put on 129 for the first wicket before Holding dismissed them both in quick succession.

Gooch and Derek Randall picked up the baton and even after the latter was dismissed for 15, England were 183-3 and had a chance to cause a major upset.

A realistic chance of victory would turn into defeat extremely quickly as Joel Garner, ‘Big Bird’ himself, produced one of the most devastating spells in World Cup history.

He picked up five wickets in the space of 11 balls during his second spell as England’s batting line-up was dismantled.

England had gone from 183/2 to 194 all out in the blink of an eye. West Indies had won by 92 runs, in a game where England were on top at various stages of both innings.

King and Garner’s contributions were telling, but the day is primarily remembered by West Indies fans for a great innings from one of their true cricketing legends.

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