West Indies and the World Cup (1975-2007)
West Indies have the honor of being the first country to win the World Cup as well as the second one, but haven’t been able to continue the winning streak since then.
In the 1975 World Cup held in England, West Indies were inarguably the favorites considering the experience and records in county cricket held by their players. Of the eight teams that participated, West Indies won 5 of the then 60 over matches and won the World Cup by defeating Australia in the finals by 17 runs. Captain Clive Lloyd scored an amazing 85-ball 102 that proved decisive in the end.
West Indies returned to England for the 1979 World Cup determined to defend their title. They overcame a tough draw against Pakistan to reach the finals against England. Richards scored an unbeaten 138 and smashed a last-ball six over square-leg off Mike Hendrick. Collis King contributed a damaging 86 runs in 67 balls including three sixes and ten fours. West Indies defeated the host nation by 95 runs to lift the coveted cup.
The World Cup venue returned to England in 1983 and India had a monster of a surprise in store for West Indies. India had already defeated West Indies by 43 runs in the first round and managed a comfortable win in a low-scoring final against the same. India were all out for 183 facing a determined bowling lineup while West Indies flattened for only 140, still the lowest total in a World Cup final. This loss to India is regarded as one of the biggest upsets in Cricket World Cup history.
The 1987 World Cup was held in India and Pakistan and a weakened side of West Indies returned for the title. They were hard hit by the absence of star performers like Michael Holding, Joel Garner and Larry Gomes who had retired from international cricket while Gordon Greenidge withdrew due to a knee operation, and Malcolm Marshall was resting.
Courtney Walsh performed poorly in the first round matches against England and Pakistan, followed by conceding 16 off his 48th over and 13 off 4 balls of the 50th over against England who then won by 2 wickets. Pakistan scored 14 off him, scoring 2 off the last ball to win.
They lost to England again and were eventually out. Even Viv Richards’ performance of 181 off 125 balls, with six sixes and 16 fours, against Sri Lanka was the highest World Cup innings at the time proved insufficient for the defending champions.
The World Cup of 1992 in Australia and New Zealand was the first to be played under lights, and with white balls and colored uniforms. West Indies, still suffering from the loss of stars, exited in the very first round losing to England, South Africa, New Zealand and Australia. The new captain Richie Richardson faced enormous criticism post his comments over the losses.
West Indies manages to better their performance in the next World Cup of 1996 in India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. West Indies came through to the semis, on their way, defeating Australia and South Africa. Brian Lara scored a whooping 111 off 94 balls against South Africa, reportedly a payback for the previous world cup’s defeat. However, the in-form Australians outplayed the Windies to clinch finals spot. Sri Lanka then went on to record a surprising win over the Aussies to clinch the title.
History repeated and the West Indies were eliminated from both the 1999 and 2003 World Cups in the first round, while they even exited in the 2007 World Cup in the second round despite playing in front of a home crowd.
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