By Vinay Anand
A common factor that can be seen in almost all World Cup title triumphs is the role of the captain in leading from the front as a player. Be it Clive Lloyd, Kapil Dev, Imran Khan or Ricky Ponting, the captain’s role in the triumph has been outstanding.
In the first of the two-part series, we examine the roles played by captains in the World Cups between 1975 and 1987.
Clive Lloyd (1975 and 1979):
Arguably West Indies’s best ever captain, Lloyd played a pivotal part in both the 1975 and 1979 World Cups. It was his performances that lead the way for the talent to come through.
Right through the 1975 World Cup, he chipped in with decent contributions, but his innings of substance came in the 1975 final against Australia. He came in to bat in a situation of bother but slowly took control to hit a match-winning 102 at less than a run a ball. It was something unheard of at that time and here was Lloyd bludgeoning an attack spearheaded by Dennis Lille and Jeff Thomson.
Lloyd in the 1975 World Cup: Runs: 158; Wickets: 3
In the 1979 edition, his captaincy stood out more than his batting. His field settings were astonishing, but successful. Leaving cover open, enticing the drive, getting the slips into play was one of his many strategies that were seen in that tournament. Also, the use of the short ball was very tactful.
Barring a few innings, Lloyd’s bat did not do much talking, but one noteworthy knock was the 70-odd he scored against the Kiwis at Trent Bridge.
Lloyd in the 1979 World Cup: Runs: 113
Kapil Dev (1983):
It was under Kapil Dev’s leadership that India won her first and only World Cup victory till now. He played decisive roles with both bat and ball. And his aggressive captaincy got the best out of a team that nobody gave any hope before the championship.
Kapil’s magnum opus came at Tunbridge Wells where he scored a World Cup record 175 off 138 balls against Zimbabwe. India were on the brink of disaster and all set to make an inglorious exit when Kapil came up with one of the most brilliant knocks in ODI history. The momentum that he provided with that innings carried on till the final where India, yet again, fought back in sensational manner to stop the West Indies juggernaut.
The defining moment of the final was the catch he took running back miles to dismiss a rampaging Viv Richards. That was the turning point of the final. India never looked back.
Kapil Dev in the 1983 World Cup: Runs: 303; Wickets: 11
Allan Border (1987):
In the years leading up to the 1987 World Cup, Border was in the stage that Ricky Ponting finds himself now - nobody fancied the team’s chances, which was labeled as the worst to leave the Australian shores.
The struggle of leading an Australian team in transition was getting to Border. His batting was not at his fluent best and his captaincy was taking a beating. Border might not have been a prolific run getter in the ’87 World Cup but he played one innings of substance against the Zimbabweans where he got 67 as the Aussies trounced them by 96 runs.
But, his biggest contribution that World Cup was not with the bat. In the final of the 1987 World Cup, Australia were pitted against England. Having just relinquished the Ashes on home soil in the summer gone by, the English had the edge with an in-form Mike Gatting leading the way. Chasing 253 on a subcontinental wicket was something England should have got in a canter at 135 for two. The Australians looked all defeated when Border decided to roll his arm over. A moment of madness had encapsulated Gatting as he tried to reverse sweep a ball pitching on legstump, only to lob it straight to the ‘keeper.
Border had done it again! It triggered England’s collapse. Australia wrapped things up, winning their first-ever World Cup when no one gave them a chance.
His captaincy finally coming good after 3 ½ years of despair. This indeed, was Australia’s resurgence and Border had a huge part to play in it.
Allan Border in the 1987 World Cup: Runs: 183. Wickets: 6
(Please await the second and concluding part on Wednesday)
(Vinay Anand, 17, has an uncanny eye for detail. He revers cricket - looking beyond the glamour into the heart of the game where true passion, perseverance and grit meet. To him, there is no greater joy than coming closer to the sport while exploring its intricacies through his writing and treading ahead to establish himself as a writer and presenter)