In 1973, businessman Jack Hayward contributed 40,000 British pounds towards the Women’s World Cup – the first such competition – hosted by England. The tournament consisted of seven teams and it was the hosts that emerged victorious defeating Australia in the final at Edgbaston. England legend Rachael Heyhoe Flint became friends with Hayward, who other than sponsoring the first-ever cricket World Cup also spent money on England’s Women tour for their tour of West Indies in 1969-70 and 1970-71.
Hayward like Flint was a lifelong Wolverhampton Wanderers fan – a club Hayward would go on to own in 1990.
Two years after the Women’s World Cup, the first edition of the Men’s World Cup was played once again in England and like the Women’s World Cup, it was not just a hit, but became a regular fixture in the international calendar and 12 editions have been played till date.
The two-week event in 1975 was contested between eight teams divided into two groups. At the end of it, it was the Clive Lloyd-led West Indies who emerged victorious by beating Australia in the final by 17 runs at Lord’s – an iconic event that took place on this day, 45 years ago.
The concept of a one-day game was not something that the players had gotten used to. Sunil Gavaskar’s pain stricken unbeaten 36 off 174 against England in the World Cup was just one of the many examples, which was not surprising that India had played just two ODIs before embarking the tournament – as had West Indies – but they did not take time to warm up. The 1975 World Cup turned out to be the stage where West Indies along with dominating Test cricket, would begin their dominance in the then 60-over format as well.
It was Australia who won the toss and elected to bowl and that turned out to be the right decision as West Indies were quickly reduced to 50 for 3 – with the top three consisting of Roy Fredericks, Gordon Greenidge and Alvin Kallicharran all back in the pavilion. The pace trio of Jeff Thompson, Dennis Lillee and Garry Gilmour had all struck early. Fredricks was dismissed in the most unusual way after he crashed into his own stumps when he hooked the ball into orbit. Australia certainly had their tails up. They had bowled England out for 93 in the semi-finals and unless Lloyd and Rohan Kanhai did something about it, their fate too could be similar.
West Indies needed their experienced players to deliver. Luckily for them Lloyd was more than able to handle everything the Australians threw at him after his team’s sedate start that included Greenidge’s snail-paced 61-ball 13. Lloyd started off by clipping Lillee towards the mid-wicket fence and when the great fast bowler bowled a short one, he rocked back and dispatched that too with disdain. The West Indies had a lucky break when Lloyd was on 26, when Ross Edwards dropped a low chance. That’s perhaps the lucky break he needed that day.
The duo of Kanhai and Lloyd brought up their 50-run stand with the former’s contribution being just six. Things began to ease and bowlers who troubled the West Indies batsmen early on seemed to be waning as Lloyd continued to swing his blade in all its glory. He brought up his century off just 82 deliveries with a single to deep cover, but was dismissed three deliveries later, caught down the leg-side off Gilmour. Lloyd had contributed 102 out of the 149-run fourth wicket stand with Kanhai, but more importantly, had given West Indies the much required momentum that was missing before he walked in.
Kanhai too walked back soon after for a patient 55 off 105. However, West Indies still managed to put up 291 for 8 on the board thanks to useful contributions down the order from Keith Boyce (34), Bernard Julien (26*) and wicketkeeper Deryck Murray (14). Gilmour picked his second successive five-wicket haul to take his tally of wickets to 11 – he played just two matches in the tournament.
In reply, most of the Australian top-order got starts, including opening batsman Alan Turner (42) skipper Ian Chappell (62) and Doug Walters (35), but none of them took the responsibility to make it count. Out of the top four, three were run-out to further add to Australia’s woes. In fact when Max Waller was dismissed for seven Australia were still 58 runs away from victory with just a solitary wicket in hand and at that point, it seemed like it was going to be West Indies’ match to lose.
That’s when Thomson and Lillee came together. After sharing three wickets in the match and 12 wickets in the tournament, they now had the chance to deliver with the bat. They had 31 runs between them with the bat in the tournament so far and with 59 needed to win from eight overs, one could understand why West Indies were favourites.
However, with gritty batting combined with a huge amount of luck they kept knocking the runs over and a victory which seemed impossible not too long ago seemed to be on. With 24 runs needed off the final 11 deliveries, Thomson chipped Vanburn Holder straight into the hands of Fredricks stationed at covers – the only fielder on the off-side at that point. The crowd created a ruckus and stormed into the ground, so much so that everyone had missed the umpire’s no-ball call. Fredricks was alert and had a shy at the non-striker’s end where Lillee was out of the ground. He missed and the ball disappeared amidst the swarm of people.
Thomson and Lillee – synonyms to terror with ball in hand of that era – ran up and down the pitch to pick up runs for their team, but Thomson did not get too greedy as he was afraid that the ball might pop out of somebody’s pocket and cause a run-out. After things were brought under control, neither the umpires nor the players had counted the runs run by the duo. Eventually, they got only four.
The penultimate ball before this a near run-out caused the crowd to come into the ground, but quickly realized that the match was still not over.
From 59, the target now was just 18 and Australia had nine balls to achieve their goal. Thomson and Lillee had batted with tremendous responsibility and a last-ball finish certainly seemed to be on the cards. Thomson having bowled 12 overs, faced 20 deliveries, which included a tiring sprint up and down the wicket for many minutes, played a tired shot when he swung the bat aimlessly, after coming down the track, but missed. Murray was quick behind the wickets and knocked down the stumps with his underarm throw. Thomson was a little late getting back and was found short of his crease.
West Indies had finally clinched a 17-run win and with that Lloyd hoisted their maiden World Cup aloft on the Lord’s balcony.
West Indies continued their dominance in World Cups, winning the ’79 edition and made it to the final in ’83. They have never made it to a final since then
Australia on the other hand went on to become the most successful team in World Cup history, having won the title five times – 1987, 1999, 2003, 2007 and 2015