Clive Lloyd
Clive Lloyd lifts the Prudential Cup trophy (Getty Images)

In the build-up to the 2019 ICC Cricket World Cup, CricketCountry brings to you the most memorable moments and matches from the Cricket World Cup – right from its first edition, way back in 1975. With 97 days to go, in our latest World Cup Countdown, we recall Clive Lloyd‘s heroic century in the 1975 WC final.

The match was meant to be special right from the very beginning. The start could not have been more sensational after West Indies had been sent in by Australia.

Dennis Lillee bounced and a ferocious Roy Fredericks hook sent it orbiting into the crowd. But, the left-hander stumbled and fell on his stumps.

Alvin Kallicharran struck two boundaries before snicking to Rod Marsh. Gordon Greenidge crawled to 13 in 61 balls before following suit. At 50 for 3, the hulking form of Clive Lloyd walked out under his maroon cap to join the greying presence of Rohan Kanhai at the other end. Astutely, Australia captain Ian Chappell brought Lillee back for a spell to Lloyd from the Nursery End.

Lloyd clipped Lillee through the mid-wicket for four. The great fast bowler responded with a bouncer, and Lloyd swivelled around to send it spiralling over deep square-leg into the top tier of the Tavern Stand. The temporarily muted West Indian thousands found their voice with a vengeance. And for the next hour and a half the excitement pulsated in their vibrant hearts.

To be fair to Lillee, he induced a false shot off the West Indian captain. At 26, Lloyd pulled him again, and the top hand slipped off the handle, the mistimed ball sped towards mid-wicket, where Ross Edwards put down a fast and low chance. But, after that it was merciless massacre.

The West Indian hundred came up with the 50-run partnership, and Kanhai’s contribution in the stand had been six. Max Walker had bowled a testing line during the troubled initial session of the West Indian innings. Now, Lloyd launched him high back over his head and it went on first bounce straight into the pavilion rails before ricocheting back into the ground.

A lofted whip over mid-wicket for four was summarised immortally by John Arlott as, “The stroke of a man knocking a thistle top off with a walking stick.” And the mighty willow went through another full swing to launch Walker into the grandstand, bringing up the 100 of the partnership.

Off the 82nd ball he faced, Lloyd’s blade went through a classy arc which would have meant a certain boundary in traditional cricket. However, his heroics had prompted Ian Chappell to put a man on the cover fence several years before it became fashionable. The West Indian captain jogged a single to bring up his sensational hundred. The runs had come in a tumult even though Kanhai had not scored for a period of 11 overs.

Lloyd’s dismissal was unfortunate. He was caught by Marsh off Gary Gilmour, down the leg side, and the decision made after a long discussion between the umpires. He did not seem to have hit it, but the 102 from 85 balls with 12 fours and 2 sixes remains one of the greatest innings ever played in this form of cricket. He scored the runs out of 149 added with Kanhai who scored a patient 55, and in the end 291 looked a formidable total.

The Australian batting side contained a galaxy of stars, and it was hardly beyond their reach. And they might have coasted to the total but for some electric work in the field.

The trouble started at 25, when Kallicharran took Rick McCosker superbly in the slips off Boyce. Ian Chappell and Alan Turner had taken the score to 81 when the first of the hat-trick of strikes was effected by the magical Viv Richards.

Young, inexperienced and yet to become the star of the batting world, Richards had done little with the bat. First Ian Chappell pushed to the leg side and called for a single. Richards darted in from mid-wicket and sent in a lightning quick underarm throw, catching Turner short of his ground.

Brother Greg Chappell joined the captain and the score had proceeded to 115 when there was a fraternal misunderstanding during the call for a run. And Viv Richards again pinged the stumps with bulls-eye accuracy.

The score still read a healthy 162 for 3 with 21 overs to go, the target very much within reach.

It was now that Chappell pushed to mid-wicket, to the left of that same man lurking there. The very sight of Richards caused the batsmen to pause, and then the Antiguan fumbled. The ball got away, a few yards behind him, and Chappell started again, sprinting down the pitch. Viv Richards swooped down on the ball, in one majestic motion, and backhanded the return to his captain who took off the bails. Ian Chappell was caught short of his ground.

Soon, Lloyd completed a fantastic match by bowling Doug Walters. Wickets continued to tumble in spite of honest efforts of Edwards, Marsh and Gilmour. When Holder had run out Walker to make it 233 for 9, it seemed all was over.

But then Lillee and Thomson stretched the match to the limits of the long day. The false celebrations leading to swarming invasions prolonged the match even further.

Australia eventually were bowled out for 274 and The West Indians had triumphed in the first edition of the World Cup, and it was a proud Clive Lloyd who held aloft the trophy handed over by Prince Phillip.