The Clive Lloyd carnage at Swansea that saw him equal the then fastest double hundred in First-Class cricket

Clive Lloyd finished unbeaten on 201 from 124 minutes with 28 fours and seven sixes © Getty Images

August 9, 1976. In a roaring tornado of an innings, Clive Lloyd slammed his way to a double hundred in two hours against Glamorgan at Swansea. Arunabha Sengupta remembers the day that saw the West Indian captain equal the then world record for the fastest double century in First-Class cricket.
For a quaint, picturesque ground, St Helen’s at Swansea has been ravaged by more than its share of brutal batting storms. Indeed, the serene seathat can be viewed across the road from the stands has been a calm blue contrast to the tornadoes that have raged within the arena.

When the all-conquering West Indians arrived to play Glamorgan in early August of 1976, the echoes of the six sixes struck by Garry Sobers eight years earlier were still reverberating around the stands. And the seaside town was subjected to another murderous assault that put the life and limb of spectators, and often townsfolk, in mortal peril. And yet again the agent of annihilation was a great southpaw from the Caribbean islands.

On that day there were quite a few Welshmen in the stands who remembered the massacre of 1968. And some of the players shuddered in painful memories as well. Alan Jones, now captain of the side, had craned his neck to follow each and every ball that had sailed over the boundary; so had overseas professional Majid Khan. Tony Cordle had sent down some overs to Sobers in that boisterous mood. Wicketkeeper Eifion Jones had crouched behind the stumps, the man who can boast being closest to the history making bat.

And then of course, there was the man whose scars would never heal, the unfortunate soul who had been clobbered into immortality. In spite of many commendable feats with the ball and some sound ones with the bat, he would always be remembered as the bowler who was hit for six sixes in an over. Yes, Malcolm Nash was playing this match as well, and on Saturday did top score with a handy innings of 64. However, he opened the bowling and stuck to his regular medium pace. He was not really intent on tossing up his slow left-arm offerings to of a bustling brigade of talented men who hailed from the same islands that had produced Sobers.

By the end of the first day, Glamorgan had been long knocked over for 266 — the off-spinner Albert Padmore bagging a truckload of wickets for a change. And it had been followed by the tale oft-repeated during the tour, the story of dominance by Gordon Greenidge and Viv Richards, a saga replayed over and over again into sense of déjà vu. West Indies had ended the day on 93 for one, with the two young batsman in ominous touch.

Clive Lloyd sat out the next day as the teams engaged in the 40-over game as was the staple fare of the Sundays of those years. In a match reduced to 38-overs per side, he watched from the sidelines as the West Indians won with embarrassing ease even as South African all-rounder Rodney Ontong put on an excellent show with both bat and ball.

The ‘Supercat’ was perhaps nursing a secret sorrow. That summer, stung by England captain Tony Greig’s infamous grovel remark, his side had steamrolled over every opposition in sight. His battery of fast bowlers had battered, bruised and blasted out the Englishmen in the Tests. His army of young batsmen had flailed and flogged every bowler into submission. The series had been already secured, the visitors 2-0 up with one Test to be played. Yet, such had been the brilliance of Roy Fredericks, Greenidge and Richards, Lloyd himself had not really been required to produce his best. The eight Test innings had seen him score just one half-century. Till the fourth Test, his only hundred on the tour had come way back in May, a blistering 152 from 32 for three against Surrey. Since then, runs had been piled upin heaps before he made his way to the crease. His own opportunities had been scarce.

In their previous match, against Minor Counties, he had released some of the pent up overdue store of runs, hammering 145 after the hapless hosts had been bowled out for 123. Now as Deryck Murray led the West Indians to the easy win, Lloyd perhaps wondered if Richards and Greenidge would leave enough time for him to bat on the morrow.

Well, if such had indeed been his thoughts, most of his fears were well founded. The score was 227 before the two overnight batsmen were separated and 267 for three when the captain himself walked in with his slouching frame and incredibly heavy bat. As he joined Lawrence Rowe at the wicket, the West Indies already led by a run and both Greenidge and Richards had done their bit in delighting the crowd with scintillating hundreds.

The carnage

The captain did not bat long, his innings lasting just about two hours. And the Welshmen in the stands had never seen another couple of hours like those.Few around the cricketing world had witnessed anything like this – ever.

The heavy bat flashed from the start at rates made incredible by its mass. It did so again and again, the impact a crack of thunder and the ball disappearing in a streak of red lightning. All the runs that he had not scored on the tour now flowed in a continuous blistering volcano, sometimes scorching the turf and equally often landing in deafening thuds in distant corners of the stands and beyond.

For the heaviest bat in world cricket, it essayed some incredible hooks and pulls when the bowlers had the ill-advised audacity to pitch short. Gentle pushes sent the cherry hurtling through with the effect of booming drives, twice hitting the cover fence on the full. When he raised his bat after a hundred scored in just 80 minutes from 79 balls, the crowd rose as one and the fielders clapped, perhaps in desperate hope that the worst was over.

Alas, the hundred mark simply revealed several incredible gears still unused by the Guyanese giant. If the runs had come at a fast clip earlier, they now gushed forth in furious torrents from resounding hits that echoed across the city. In the next 40 minutes, and facing only 45 balls, he raced to his second hundred. The double hundred arrived on the stroke of two hours, from 124 deliveries.

It took the craft of run scoring on a nostalgic trip down to the days of the anecdotal Edwardian Age. Indeed, no man had scored at a faster rate since that force of nature called Gilbert Jessop had bludgeoned his way to 286 for Gloucestershire against Sussex at Hove in 1903. The slouching Lloyd had actually equalled ‘The Croucher’ Jessop’s record for the fastest double hundred ever, both getting there in two hours. The record stood for eight and a half years before Ravi Shastri hoisted six sixes in a Tilak Raj over on his way to 200 in just 113 minutes.

At the other end, Lawrence Rowe was scoring at a reasonable enough rate. But his progress was almost glacial in contrast to his captain. Lloyd had come in after Rowe, but now he waited for him to reach his century. However, the Jamaican batsman was dismissed for 88 and the innings was closed immediately.

Lloyd finished unbeaten on 201 from 124 minutes with 28 fours and seven sixes. The partnership with Rowe had been worth 287. West Indies declared at 554 for four in 83.3 overs, amassed at an incredible rate of 6.63. Nash did not bowl his slow spinners but still was hammered around for 77 from 12 overs. It was as well that he did not resort to spin, because the tweakers were well and truly slaughtered. Tony Allin’s slow left-arm fetched him two for 128 from 19.3 overs. Off-spinner Barry Lloyd went over seven an over, finishing with one for 162 from 23 overs. Having piled up 461 runs in less than a day, West Indies still had enough time to take five Glamorgan wickets before the close of play.
What followed

A shell-shocked and demoralised Glamorgan hardly had any fight left in them. Bernard Julien and Michael Holding skittled them out for 147 in the second innings and West Indies triumphed by an innings and 141 runs.

Two days after the completion of the match, the West Indians took on England at The Oval and pulverised them to complete their domination, ending the series with a 3-0 scoreline. During the afternoon of the fourth day, Greenidge and Fredericks launched yet another merciless attack. And Tony Greig headed to the Harleyford Road side of the ground, where the open stands were crammed with West Indian fans. Smiling broadly, he dropped to his knees and crawled forward. In other words, he grovelled.

Brief scores:

Glamorgan 266 (Allan Jones 42, Malcolm Nash 64; Albert Padmore 5 for 84) and 147 (Arthur Francis 53; Bernard Julien 6 for 54) lost to West Indies 554 for 4 decl. (Gordon Greenidge 130, Viv Richards 121, Lawrence Rowe 88, Clive Lloyd 201*) by an innings and 141 runs.

(Arunabha Sengupta is a cricket historian and Chief Cricket Writer at CricketCountry. He writes about the history and the romance of the game, punctuated often by opinions about modern day cricket, while his post-graduate degree in statistics peeps through in occasional analytical pieces. The author of three novels, he can be followed on Twitter at http://twiter.com/senantix)