Having revisited the West Indies’ successes on the 1950 and 1963 tours in the first of this five-part series, we move on further through the 1960s and into the 1970s in the second part.
Sobers and Gibbs lead a rout – First Test, Old Trafford, 1966
The West Indies began their defence of the Wisden Trophy with a crushing win under three days. Garfield Sobers succeeded Frank Worrell at the helm, and he led from the front with a stroke-filled 161. He shared in a fifth-wicket stand of 127 with his debutant cousin David Holford, which helped propel the total to a sturdy 484. Earlier, the top order was held together by Conrad Hunte’s assured innings of 135.
As was the case in the 1963 Old Trafford Test, Lance Gibbs made the English batsmen dance to his tunes. The off-spinner started off with 5/37 in the first innings, ably aided by the leg-spin of Holford (3/34). Following on 317 in arrears, England found it a tall ask to avoid the innings defeat, and were dismissed for 277. Gibbs reached his haul of ten with 5/69, while Sobers did his bit by taking three wickets.
Butcher bats big – Third Test, Trent Bridge, 1966
Thanks to a match-saving stand of 274* between Sobers and Holford at Lord’s, the West Indies arrived at Trent Bridge with their lead intact. They lost wickets at regular intervals after deciding to bat, and had to be content with a total of 235. The top-scorer was Seymour Nurse with 93. Sobers and Wes Hall (each of whom took four scalps) reduced England to 13/3 in reply, but the hosts recovered to lead by 90.
The second innings belonged to Basil Butcher, who turned the game around with a resolute 209*. Batting at number four, he shared in century stands with Rohan Kanhai (63), Nurse (53) and Sobers (94), lifting the total to 482/5. When the final day commenced, England were 30/0. However, led by Charlie Griffith (4/34) and Gibbs (3/83), the West Indian bowlers ensured that their team sealed victory by 139 runs.
A captain’s special from Sobers – Fourth Test, Headingley, 1966
The series was decided in favour of the West Indies with another innings win, the highlight of which was a powerful all-round display from Sobers. England did well to keep the visitors to 154/4 after losing the toss, but Nurse and Sobers put paid to their hopes by adding 265 for the fifth wicket. Sobers dominated the stand, as he rushed to 174 in just four hours. Nurse scored 137 before Sobers declared at 500/9.
England fell to 49/4 in the face of Hall and Griffith, and then had to contend with the left-arm pace of Sobers (5/41). Though the total improved to 279, the writing was on the wall. Gibbs grabbed 6/39 in the second dig to condemn England to 205, while Sobers snared 3/39. The final scoreline read 3-1 following England’s consolatory win at The Oval. Sobers plundered 722 runs in the series, not to mention his 20 wickets.
A bag of eleven for Boyce – First Test, The Oval, 1973
England were the trophy holders, having prevailed in the 1969 edition – this was to be their last series win against the West Indies until 2000. Now led by Kanhai, the islanders slumped to 64/3 before the innings was resurrected through a fourth-wicket partnership of 208 between Clive Lloyd (132) and Alvin Kallicharran (80). Keith Boyce crunched a breezy 72 from number nine, which carried the total to 415.
With his job with the bat done, Boyce proceeded to unnerve the English batsmen with his pace bowling. His maiden Test five-wicket haul (5/70) in the first innings handed the West Indies a lead of 158, after which Kallicharran struck 80 again to help set a target of 414. He bettered this with 6/77 in the second innings, paving the way for a 158-run win and an important lead in the three-match series for his side.
England’s biggest defeat to the West Indies – Third Test, Lord’s, 1973
Still ahead by 1-0 after a draw at Edgbaston, the West Indies regained the Wisden Trophy in emphatic fashion, registering their biggest victory against England. Kanhai’s drove the innings by scoring 157 and putting on 138 for the third wicket with Lloyd (63), before a buccaneering seventh-wicket association of 231 between Sobers (150*) and Bernard Julien (121) rocketed the total to a mountainous 652/8.
Flattened by the onslaught, England wobbled to 29/3 against the new-ball pair of Vanburn Holder (4/56) and Boyce (4/50) before folding for 233. It was the same story after Kanhai enforced the follow-on; except for Keith Fletcher (86*), no batsman crossed 15. Boyce capped a productive series – he led the charts with 19 wickets – with 4/49, as the West Indies relished a sweet victory by an innings and 226 runs.
Another record margin – Third Test, Old Trafford, 1976
The baton of captaincy had passed on to Lloyd in 1974-75. With the five-match series locked at 0-0, the West Indians produced a ruthless performance that signalled their intention to rule the cricketing world. The start was far from ideal though, as the score read a dire 26/4 after Lloyd called correctly. But opener Gordon Greenidge stood tall with a sparkling 134, which was the fulcrum of a total of 211.
Fiery fast bowling from Andy Roberts (3/22), Michael Holding (5/17) and Wayne Daniel bundled England out for just 71 – the last nine wickets fell for 35. The West Indies solidified by piling up 411/5, with Greenidge (101) getting his second ton and Vivian Richards scoring 135. Chasing a target of 552, England were all out for 126 (Roberts taking 6/37), giving the West Indies their biggest Test win in terms of runs.