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05 December 2023

1975: West Indies set early pace

The final will be remembered for West Indies captain Clive Lloyd’s 102 off 85 balls. (GETTY)


The first World Cup in England in 1975 wore a different look from modern standards, for the game was traditional as players had not discarded whites for coloured clothing and money was scarce.

Fielding restrictions were non-existent, and wides and short-pitched balls were not so firmly enforced.
Cricketers playing in English counties had an advantage over their opponents, as inaugural champions West Indies were to prove.
The beginning was humble, with no global television coverage and six Test-playing nations in the competition with associate members Sri Lanka and East Africa.
The top two sides from each four-team group entered the semifinals.
The tournament lasted just a fortnight with 60-overs-a-side games.
Four group games were held on each of the first three dates and then both the semifinals on the same day, something unthinkable in the modern age of television and marketing.
England, Australia and New Zealand easily qualified for the last-four, but the West Indies were involved in the first-ever close match of the World Cup, against Pakistan at Edgbaston.
The West Indies were 203-9 chasing a 267-run target before Andy Roberts and Deryck Murray held their nerve under pressure to help their team win by one wicket.
The West Indies thrashed New Zealand by five wickets in the semifinal, but Australia had to bank on Gary Gilmour’s all-round performance (6-14 and 28 not out) to beat England in the other.
Left-arm fast bowler Gilmour became the first bowler to grab six wickets in a one-dayer as England were dismissed for 93 on a seaming Headingley track.
The small target looked big for Australia, reeling at 39-6 against a sharp England pace attack. Gilmour then put on 55 for the unfinished seventh wicket with Doug Walters to steer his team to a four-wicket win.
The final will be remembered as much for West Indies captain Clive Lloyd’s 102 off 85 balls as for Australia’s fightback and for West Indian Viv Richards’s brilliant piece of fielding which led to three of the five run-outs.
The West Indies were 50-3 before posting 291-8 off 60 overs despite a five-wicket effort from Gilmour. Rohan Kanhai contributed a valuable 55.
Australian captain Ian Chappell led from the front with an impressive 62, but fast bowler Keith Boyce took four wickets to reduce Australia to 233-9.
The game was not over as the last-wicket pair of Dennis Lillee and Jeff Thomson threatened to conjure up an unlikely victory. Pressure mounted on the West Indies as the Australians added 41.
The fightback ended when Thomson became the fifth run-out victim trying to steal a bye to wicket-keeper Murray, who hit the stumps with just eight balls remaining.
Australia lost by 17 runs in a fitting finale to the tournament, but they looked a different side in the next World Cup held again in England.