On May 8, 1985, New Zealand registered yet another collapse against West Indies, thereby conceding the series 2-0. Malcolm Marshall was the protagonist, finishing the contest as the highest wicket-taker — 27 wickets from four Tests — 12 ahead of the next best, Richard Hadlee. Karthik Parimal reviews the eventful Test.
For two decades from the early 1970s, West Indies were invincible, both home and away. Their feats were unparalleled and artillery unmatched. They seldom conceded defeat, but the one team that they hadn’t seen a lot of was New Zealand. The two sides competed in just one series, in 1980, with the Kiwis gaining the upper hand, thanks to some dubious umpiring — the Michael Holding incident springs readily to mind.
Hence, when the Caribbean islands played host in 1985, payback was certainly on the minds of the West Indians. The likes of Michael Holding, Joel Garner, Malcolm Marshall and Winston Davis were waiting with clenched fists.
The first two Tests at Trinidad and Guyana were safely negotiated by the visitors, but the inevitable happened in the third at Barbados. The quartet shot New Zealand out for 94 in the first innings, before the batsmen piled a considerable lead and chased down a target of seven in the final innings to win by 10 wickets. Almost eight hours of play were lost during that Test owing to poor light and damp outfield, yet, that couldn’t prevent West Indies from registering their fifth consecutive victory at the venue. With tails up and a bolstered morale, the hosts were now to set to drive the final nail into the Kiwi coffin at Jamaica.
Holding’s absence from the final fixture would have pleased New Zealand, but his place was taken by a certain Courtney Walsh.
Geoff Howarth won the toss and asked West Indies to bat first — perhaps to avoid the blistering pace of the fast bowlers by opting to bat first. The top-order batsmen all got starts, but riding on Desmond Haynes’s 76 and Jeff Dujon’s 70, they posted a formidable 363; a total that was sure to test the Kiwi line-up, for very few, prior to that game, had stood up to the battery of pacers. Only Richard Hadlee shone in the bowling department for them, taking four wickets for 53 at an Economy of 1.84. Surprisingly, he peppered tailender Garner with five bouncers in one over. However, the umpire turned a blind eye to it, although, as stated by Wisden, he could have ‘intervened under Law 42.8 as they would have had justifiable cause for doing’.
Sure enough, the touring batsmen wilted under the pressure exerted by Marshall, Garner and Davis. They were bowled out for 138, conceding a lead of a massive 225 runs. Garner, keeping in mind the treatment dished out to him, fractured Jeremy Coney’s forearm with one vicious delivery before hitting Ken Rutherford on his helmet with the next.
Apart from the second Test at Guyana, New Zealand’s batting was seldom buoyant. Names like John Wright, Martin Crowe and Rutherford were present, yet, they could do little to arrest the slide against a fearsome attack. Vivian Richards, West Indies’ skipper, enforced follow-on, and one felt it was only going to be a short while before his troop wrapped things up. But what followed from the willows of Howarth and Jeff Crowe were masterful. A record partnership ensued and New Zealand’s hopes were revived.
Despite Wright’s early departure, Howarth and Crowe stitched together a 210-run stand, inclusive of 16 hits to the fence and one over it. They battled for almost 10 hours and the game was meandering towards a draw. Although it wasn’t going to win New Zealand the series, a tally of three draws and just one defeat, in West Indies’ backyard, was considered to be a respectable outcome at the time. Then, on the fourth morning, Marshall and Garner got under the skin of the duo, conceding just six runs from nine overs. Tactically, Richards decided to have a bowl, expecting the batsmen to take more risks against him, thereby increasing the chances of them committing a blunder. Almost instantly, at 223 for one, Crowe, looking to cut loose, was caught by Marshall off Richards for a fighting 112, and Howard was caught brilliantly by Garner at gully in the next over for 84. Thereafter, a collapse commenced.
Marshall bombarded the middle-order, dismissing Rutherford for five, Ian Smith for nine, Richard Hadlee for 14 and John Bracewell for 27. Coney hadn’t recovered from the deadly blow to the forearm and hence was ruled out. The last eight wickets fell for just 60 runs. Marshall finished with figures of four for 66, whereas Garner and Walsh bagged two wickets apiece. New Zealand’s second innings total read 283, which left the hosts to get just 59 runs. Openers Gordon Greenidge and Haynes nonchalantly chased down the target in 17 overs, thereby leading West Indies to yet another 10-wicket victory, and pocketing the series 2-0.
West Indies 363 (Desmond Haynes 76, Jeff Dujon 70; Richard Hadlee 4 for 53) and 59 for 0 (Gordon Greenidge 33*, Desmond Haynes 24*) beat New Zealand 138 (John Wright 53; Winston Davis 4 for 19) and 283 (Jeff Crowe 112, Geoff Howarth 84; Malcolm Marshall 4 for 66) by 10 wickets
(Karthik Parimal, a Correspondent with CricketCountry, is a cricket aficionado and a worshipper of the game. He idolises Steve Waugh and can give up anything, absolutely anything, just to watch a Kumar Sangakkara cover drive. He can be followed on Twitter at https://twitter.com/