The erroneous scorecard. Photo courtesy: David Rayvern Allen
The erroneous scorecard. Photo courtesy: David Rayvern Allen

March 12, 1984. According to the scorecard at Headingley, eleven West Indians were playing for England, while ten Englishmen and one South African were turning out for West Indies. Arunabha Sengupta recalls the day.

The mighty West Indian juggernaut was rolling. In the first Test at Edgbaston, Joel Garner had blown them away. In the second, at Lord’s, David Gower had had the audacity to declare and set a target of 342 on the final day, and Gordon Greenidge had ensured that West Indies had knocked off the runs with 9 wickets to spare.

Perhaps someone thought it would be a clever idea to make the set of players switch allegiance, in order for England to come back into the series.

Or, as is more likely, it was a honest mistake.

But when the official scorecards were sold on the first morning before the start of the third Test at Headingley, England had Greenidge and Desmond Haynes opening the innings, followed by Viv Richards, Larry Gomes, Clive Lloyd, Jeff Dujon, Malcolm Marshall, Michael Holding, Joel Garner, Eldine Baptiste and Roger Harper.

In short, there was documented evidence in the form of the officially issued scorecard that England was being represented by 11 West Indians. A fascinating eleven at that.

It was almost completely vice versa but for the presence of Allan Lamb in the England outfit. Hence the West Indian batting card ran Graeme Fowler, Chris Broad, Paul Terry, GJ Lamb (?), David Gower, Ian Botham, Paul Downton, Derek Pringle, Nick Cook, Bob Willis and Norman Cowans. After a late word from the dressing room, the name of Cowans was struck out and ‘Paul Allott’ was scribbled by hand.

The sheet caused a lot of hilarity, and not a little consternation. If Lord Harris had been alive it would have driven him to apoplexy. But soon it was withdrawn, and efforts were made to round up the erroneous copies. A revised one was issued quite quickly.

However, the rework and correction had its price. The corrected version cost 25p while the original had been worth 18p.

The scorecard did not manage to turn the fortunes of the English side in any way. Lamb, the South African, got a hundred and Allott did pick six wickets to restrict the West Indian first-innings lead to just 32. But Marshall, his left hand broken while fielding in the first innings, first batted with one hand and hit a boundary. And then he ran in to capture 7 for 53 as the Englishmen succumbed for 159 in the second innings.

Greenidge and Haynes got 106 of the required 128 and the West Indians won by 8 wickets.

They followed it up by a triumph by an innings and 64 runs at Old Trafford and by 172 runs at The Oval to complete what was termed a ‘blackwash.’ Garner finished the series with 29 wickets, Marshall, playing 4 Tests of 5 got 24, Holding 15.

West Indies could induce nightmares those days.