Colin Croft’s figures read 18.5-7-29-8. He took 5 for 9 from 10.5 overs in his second spell © Getty Images
Colin Croft’s figures read 18.5-7-29-8. He took 5 for 9 from 10.5 overs in his second spell © Getty Images

On March 4, 1977 Colin Croft demolished Pakistan with a demonstration of mean, hostile fast bowling. Abhishek Mukherjee looks back at the best bowling figures by a fast bowler in the history of West Indies cricket.

With spearheads like Michael Holding out with injury, West Indies were forced to include two new faces for the first Test at Bridgetown against Pakistan. Both of them bowled well in a Test that West Indies somehow managed to save; a single wicket had saved them from losing the Test.

The two fast bowlers managed to impress the selectors. Joel Garner was very tall, could extract bounce off a good length, and had picked up 6 wickets in the Test. The other, Colin Croft, was not as tall, but was faster, and had already earned a reputation for being mean and ruthless with the ball. Both Garner and Croft bowled fairly accurately as well.

Both of them were selected for the second Test at Port-of-Spain. With Vanburn Holder also out nursing an injury, Croft and Garner were expected to support the senior Andy Roberts.

Mushtaq Mohammad decided to bat, and as Majid Khan went out to open batting with the captain’s younger brother Sadiq, no one knew what was in store for them.

Before he could score a single run, Sadiq was hit on the forearm by a brute of a delivery from Croft that rose steeply from a good length. Croft looked menacing, and he was already bowling a yard or two quicker than his senior partner. His hostile pace, bounce, accuracy, and ability to dart the ball in and then move it away had the hapless Pakistanis in disarray.

As the ball moved away at an astounding pace, Croft made quick inroads in the Pakistan line-up. Haroon Rasheed and Mushtaq were caught in the slips, while Asif Iqbal was caught behind for a duck. Suddenly Pakistan were 21 for 3 (with Sadiq retired hurt).

Wasim Raja joined Majid at this stage. Majid, always known for his strokeplay, was forced to play a sheet anchor’s role. Raja counterattacked, on the other hand, trying to take the bull by the horns. Clive Lloyd had to take Croft off after a spell of 3 for 18 from 8 overs.

Raja, who would turn out to be one of the best batsmen against West Indies in their prime, played some exquisite strokes as Pakistan managed to go past the 100-mark. Garner then ended Majid’s 175-minute resilience of 47 by trapping him leg-before. Raphick Jumadeen, the left-arm spinner, picked up Imran Khan at the other end; Sadiq walked out to resume his innings with the score on 112 for 5.

Like his opening partner, Sadiq too set up camp while Raja went on playing his strokes. When it seemed that the partnership will take Pakistan out of danger, Lloyd brought back Croft. He responded by clean bowling Raja, who had put up a show of extreme courage, and had managed to score 65 with 7 fours and 2 sixes.

Four runs later Sadiq was walking back to the pavilion, hitting Croft straight back at him. He then uprooted Intikhab Alam’s stump, and followed it by clean bowling Saleem Altaf. Wasim Bari had decided to hit out, but he fell for 21, edging one off Croft as Deryck Murray completed the catch.

Pakistan were bowled out for 180. Croft’s figures read 18.5-7-29-8. He had taken 5 for 9 from 10.5 overs in his second spell. His brutal pace and relentless accuracy had left the Pakistanis dumbfounded. Croft had registered the best figures by a West Indian fast bowler, going past the 8 for 92 by Michael Holding — the man he had replaced — against England at The Oval in 1976. The record still stands.

What happened next?

Despite Altaf’s initial breakthroughs, Roy Fredericks scored a dominating 120 before falling to Mushtaq. The leg-spinner eventually picked up 4 for 50 as West Indies scored 316, securing a 136-run lead; no other batsman managed to reach 40, though Garner and Croft did well to add a crucial 46 for the ninth wicket.

Pakistan fought back well in the second innings, the openers putting up 123. Majid scored 54 and Sadiq 81, and Raja came to the forefront once again, scoring another counterattacking 84 with seven fours and two sixes, to be caught by Garner off Croft. Imran hit a few lusty blows as well, and Pakistan managed to reach 340, the highest score in the Test. Though Croft bowled well yet again, it was Roberts (4 for 85) and Garner (3 for 48) who caused the damage.

Chasing 205, the West Indians put up 97 for the opening stand before Fredericks fell to — Raja. Viv Richards joined Gordon Greenidge, and West Indies cruised along to an easy victory. Despite Imran’s late surge (he removed both set batsmen and Irvine Shillingford to reduce West Indies to 170 for 4 from 159 for 1), Alvin Kallicharran and Lloyd guided the home side to a 6-wicket victory.

Croft could have been the undisputed Man of the Match, but Raja’s heroics ensured Croft had to share the award with him.

Brief scores:

Pakistan 180 (Wasim Raja 65, Majid Khan 47; Colin Croft 8 for 29) and 340 (Wasim Raja 84, Sadiq Mohammad 81, Majid Khan 54; Andy Roberts 4 for 85, Joel Garner 3 for 48) lost to West Indies 316 (Roy Fredericks 120; Mushtaq Mohammad 4 for 50) and 206 for 4 (Gordon Greenidge 70, Roy Fredericks 57; Imran Khan 3 for 59) by 6 wickets.

Men of the Match: Wasim Raja and Colin Croft.

(Abhishek Mukherjee is a cricket historian and Senior Cricket Writer at CricketCountry. He generally looks upon life as a journey involving two components – cricket and literature – though not as disjoint elements. A passionate follower of the history of the sport with an insatiable appetite for trivia and anecdotes, he has also a steady love affair with the incredible assortment of numbers that cricket has to offer. He also thinks he can bowl decent leg-breaks in street cricket, and blogs at He can be followed on Facebook at and on Twitter at