ICC CRICKET WORLD CUP
West Indies were the favourites going into the 1975 World Cup, and won it in style with a fancied win over Australia in the finals. © Getty
In the build-up to the 2019 World Cup, Cricbuzz is publishing a eleven-part series to reminisce every bygone edition. In this first instalment, two winning teammates from 1975 talk about West Indies’s famous win, the significance of an ODI World Cup back then, and more.
When cricket awakened to a brave new world in the English summer of 1975, so did the men from the Caribbean. It was just before Clive Lloyd’s men would establish an era of unprecedented world domination. Lloyd himself was within his first year of captaincy and had never led in an ODI while the likes of Viv Richards and Gordon Greenidge were relative no-names. But they still entered the first-ever cricket World Cup as favourites.
Deryck Murray: Many of us back then were trying to envisage how a Test match World Cup would be. That’s what we wanted. The advent of the one-day game made it convenient for them. We knew the concept was experimental to try and see if it works. At the time, people thought it would suit our style and we were made favourites. England had home advantage since they were most used to playing one-day cricket as professional cricketers. Australians were enjoying great success at Test level. There was no foregone conclusion.
Andy Roberts: They based it off the Gillette Cup in England, which was a success at the time. I was a youngster. I’d only made one tour of India, Sri Lanka and Pakistan by then. One-day cricket wasn’t new to me though, having played a lot of it as part of county cricket in England. The only thing that was strange was playing against so many top-class world-class players in the space of a month.
There was no elaborate preparation like now. As a matter of fact, I left straight from Hampshire and went to join up with the team. I don’t even remember if there was an opening ceremony. I believe we went to Buckingham Palace, all the teams.
The West Indies began their campaign with a resounding win against new-comers Sri Lanka, blowing them away for 86 before chasing the total down in just over 20 overs with nine wickets in hand. This wasn’t the fearsome pace quartet that would go on to terrorize the world in operation though. Making his ODI debut, Roberts was the only tearaway in the mix.
Roberts: I was the only genuine fast bowler. Vanburn Holder was one of the most underrated fast bowlers. Keith Boyce had played a lot of county cricket. And Bernard Julien had the angle as a left-armer. But there was no comparison to the quartet that came soon after.
Murray: From a wicket-keepers’ point of view I was happy with the variety in 1975. This wasn’t as fearsome as the combination to come. But we also then had Lance Gibbs.
It was strange playing against so many top-class world-class players in the space of a month: Roberts ©Getty
Then came the thriller against Pakistan, the first dramatic run-chase in ODI history. Chasing 267, they lost three early wickets courtesy Sarfaraz Nawaz and when skipper Lloyd departed after a quickfire 53, the match seemed to be slipping. At 203/9, it looked lost. It’s then that Murray would set down the template for pulling off a Houdini in an ODI run-chase for the likes of Javed Miandad, Michael Bevan and MS Dhoni to follow, as he guided West Indies home with his highest ODI score of 61 not out with Roberts contributing an unbeaten 48-ball 24.
Murray: We had a heavy batting line-up with Greenidge and (Roy) Fredericks followed by Kanhai, Richards, Lloyd and (Alvin) Kallicharran and then the all-rounders in Julien and Boyce. It was only when the eighth wicket fell, and you suddenly thought ‘Hang on, we have gone through everyone and only Holder and Roberts to come’ that a loss seemed possible. Then Vanburn got out and we still needed 64.
Roberts: Nobody, nobody believed we would have pulled it off. Interestingly, when we were sitting in the viewing area of the dressing-room, there were a lot of Pakistanis on that side of the ground, teasing us.
Murray: Andy and myself worked out that I have to take most of the strike and we look for singles and twos accordingly without panicking. We also played on the fact that from a very strong winning position, where Pakistan thought it was just a matter of time, you saw them suddenly panicking, and we took strength from that. Most people focus on the last over and say how come Wasim Raja bowled it despite having not bowled a ball earlier in the tournament, but we could see from the bowling changes and field placements with 15-16 overs to go that it was going our way.
Roberts: It shows that if you face all your overs in an innings, you can get the runs needed. The target was 60-odd when I walked out to bat but we had 14 overs in which to get it. That’s the key, the 14 overs.
Murray: If you were in a tight situation and you wanted somebody to pull you out, you could trust Andy. If in the last over, the opposition needs 5 or 6 runs, you’d generally pick Andy as the guy to bowl that over. Here you wanted him to be on strike. We knew he wouldn’t let us down. The popular thinking then was that if you got the West Indies under the pump, they’ll crumble. This was about proving that the West Indians are strong-willed and can fight through any adversity and it was about telling ourselves that we can do it too.
Roberts: It was the partnership that won us the World Cup. If we had lost that game, we wouldn’t have even made it to the semifinals possibly. When we were 190-odd for 8, one of the Pakistani fans bet on a West Indian win. He got very good odds, like 40 or 50 to 1. The guy won a few hundred pounds betting that we would win. He clearly knew more than us. (laughs)
Everyone talks about Viv’s run-outs in the final but they don’t talk about mine: Murray ©Getty
Funnily enough, it wasn’t Murray but Nawaz who was awarded the man-of-the-match trophy, reportedly because even the adjudicator for the award didn’t expect the West Indies to win.
Murray: You might find it funny but I don’t (laughs). I still think I deserve it. I was happy that I was part of a winning West Indian team but a MoM award would have made it nicer. Whenever I see Sarfaraz, we still joke about it.
Roberts remembers there having been little “resistance” from that point on as the West Indies marched into the finals seeing off Australia in the third league game before beating New Zealand comfortably by five wickets in the semis.
Roberts: It was easy pickings from thereon. We in fact didn’t come close to losing a World Cup game before going down to India at Manchester in the league game in 1983.
Murray: The surprise was that every game was a full house. Fortunately, England has different communities from Australians, Kiwis, Indians, West Indians and Pakistanis. And you’d think they would come out to support. But you wouldn’t think there would be enough of them to fill Edgbaston for a West Indies v Pakistan game. But we found crowds were 1/3rd English and the other part made up of the two teams playing. It lent itself to be a great occasion. The semis against New Zealand was tense. You think this is it, one step away from the final. They might not have started out as one of the fancied teams but they’d played some real good all-round cricket to get there.
The rivalry between West Indies and Australia was already building up as one that would define the decade. And it was apt that the two teams faced off in the first-ever World Cup final.
Murray: We had plans for not just the Chappells but also (Doug) Walters, (Rod) Marsh and (Alan) Turner. While (Dennis) Lillee, (Jeff) Thomson and (Gary) Gilmour were the bowlers making the headlines, we knew someone like Max Walker was a tremendous bowler. We had to make sure that we don’t give away wickets to them. We as a team preferred to bat second in that tournament. But we were put in to bat first. Your first wish goes out of the window.
West Indies were susprised by the full-house attendances even when England didn’t feature. ©Getty
West Indies would slump to 50/3 before the Guyanese duo of Lloyd and Kanhai saved the day with a memorable stand of 149, with the skipper scoring an 85-ball century to help his team post 291/8.
Murray: Rohan Kanhai has never really received the kind of credit as he should for his innings. His score was only 55 in comparison to Lloyd’s century but the influence he had at that particular time after we’d lost two wickets and Lloyd came in was enormous. He steadied the ship. He provided the security for Lloyd to play his natural game.
Despite losing wickets, Australia kept coming at the total as always, and despite Viv Richards’ now famous troika of run-outs to get rid of the Chappell brothers and the in-form Turner, they were in till the very end when Lillee and Thomson threatened to pull off a heist. They added 41 and even survived a crowd invasion before Thomson was adjudged run-out as he charged down the ground and Murray knocked down the stumps.
Murray: We were conscious that we had beaten Pakistan, and the Aussies we knew will always fight. We could never relax and feel like we had won. Like you say, everyone talks about Viv’s run-outs but they don’t talk about mine. In fact, I would have preferred if they had adjudged that to be stumped off Murray rather than run-out but that’s another story.
West Indies were crowned the first-ever official champions of the world. But both Roberts and Murray admit to that title not having sat too comfortably with them.
Roberts: We didn’t feel like world champions. The impetus was on Test cricket. ODI cricket was more a spectacle. There wasn’t much celebration after the initial presentation. A couple of guys sat down and had a couple of glasses of champagne. I went straight back to Hampshire.
Murray: While it was nice to be claimed as world champions around the cricket world, and our spectators did take great pride in that, they also wanted us to do that at the Test level. For us players, it is always good to be No.1, but we knew we had a lot more to strive for and we had to make sure.