In the third part of this series, we embark upon the period during which the West Indies firmly established themselves as the undisputed champions of Test cricket.
Openers star in series-clincher – Fourth Test, Headingley, 1976
The in-form Gordon Greenidge (115) and the swashbuckling southpaw Roy Fredericks put the English bowling attack to the sword, as the score galloped to 147/0 in 27 overs at lunch on the first day. Their electrifying partnership was broken at 192, when Fredericks was dismissed for 109 off just 124 balls. Vivian Richards (66) and Lawrence Rowe (50) kept up the tempo, and the score at stumps moved to 437/9.
Replying to 450, England were 80/4 before captain Tony Greig and gloveman Alan Knott scored 116 each to limit the West Indian lead to 63. The visitors managed only 196 in the second innings, with Collis King scoring 58. Needing 260, England were reduced to 23/3 by Andy Roberts (3/41). Greig hit 76*, but Michael Holding (3/44) and Wayne Daniel (3/60) confirmed a series-sealing 55-run victory for the West Indies.
The Richards and Holding show – Fifth Test, The Oval, 1976
Having pocketed the series, the West Indies extended the margin to 3-0 with an assertive 231-run win in the final Test. The 24-year-old Richards, who had struck 232 in the first Test at Trent Bridge, smashed a career-best 291 in 386 balls with 38 fours. His innings, aided by fifties from Fredericks (71), Rowe (70), skipper Clive Lloyd (84) and King (63) carried the total to 687/8 – the highest for the West Indies in England.
The pitch had little for the bowlers, but Holding collected 8/92 in a terrific display, even as Dennis Amiss (203) helped drag England to 435. Fredericks (86*) and Greenidge (85*) then rushed to 182/0, before Holding took 6/57 to give himself a memorable return of 14/149 – he and Roberts both ended the series with 28 wickets. On the batting front, Richards stockpiled 829 runs – a West Indian record – at 118.42.
A see-sawing battle – First Test, Trent Bridge, 1980
Roberts was the wrecker-in-chief with 5/72 after Ian Botham, in his first Test as captain, decided to bat first. England lost the last six wickets for only 59 to be bowled out for 263. The West Indies lost Desmond Haynes early, before Greenidge (53) and Richards (64) put together 88 for the second wicket. Wicketkeeper Deryck Murray also scored 64, which contributed towards a crucial lead of 45 for his team.
England were placed at 174/2 in the second innings, but Joel Garner (4/30), Roberts (3/57) and Malcolm Marshall dismissed them for 252. When the final day began, the West Indies were 109/2 in their chase of 208. Haynes, in his first Test in England, dug in even as wickets fell around him. He was eighth out for 62, but had done enough to ensure a two-wicket win for the West Indies. The next four Tests were all drawn.
Garner takes nine in innings win – First Test, Edgbaston, 1984
The West Indies started off yet another series against England on a positive note, with this innings win setting the tone for the rest of the series. Their pace battery, spearheaded by Garner (4/53), was on song from the outset, reducing the score to 49/4. The innings wound up at 191, after which the West Indies lost Greenidge and Haynes with only 35 on the board. Richards joined Larry Gomes at this juncture.
The pair extinguished English hopes with a third-wicket stand of 206, before Richards perished for 117. Gomes (143) added a further 124 for the fifth wicket with Lloyd (71), and as if this was not enough, Eldine Baptiste (87*) and Holding (69) crashed 150 for the ninth wicket to boost the total to 606. Not surprisingly, England came a cropper with the bat again, folding for 235 thanks to Garner’s haul of 5/55.
Greenidge’s sensational assault – Second Test, Lord’s, 1984
Despite an opening stand of 101, England were restricted to a middling 286 after being inserted, with Marshall (6/59) being the pick of the bowlers. The West Indian response was dented by Botham, who finished with 8/103. Though Richards made an attacking 72, he could not stop England from leading by 41. The hosts stumbled to 36/3 in the second innings, but recovered to declare at 300/9 early on the fifth day.
Facing a seemingly imposing target of 342, the West Indies rode on a breathtaking innings from Greenidge. The opener hammered 214*, which remains the only double hundred in a successful Test chase. He consumed just 242 balls in a little over five hours, and smashed 29 fours and two sixes. His unbroken second-wicket stand of 287 with Gomes (92*) secured a stunning nine-wicket win in just 66.1 overs.
Gomes and Marshall ensure series win – Third Test, Headingley, 1984
Not for the first time, the West Indian bowlers delivered as a unit, as England were bowled out for 270. Holding had figures of 4/70, while Roger Harper (3/47) chipped in with his off-spin to take three vital wickets. The West Indies edged a narrow lead of 32, which they owed to an unbeaten 104 from Gomes, whose eighth-wicket partnership of 82 with Holding (59) injected much-needed impetus in the innings.
When England were 104/2 in the second innings, the match was on an even keel. However, Harper removed captain David Gower to open the floodgates. Marshall took over thereafter, going on to demolish the rest of the batting on his way to 7/53. England lost their last eight wickets for only 55, before Greenidge and Haynes put on 106 to pave the way for an emphatic eight-wicket victory that settled the series.