1979 Cricket World Cup – Rob Smith takes a deep dive into the 1979 Men’s World Cup, when England came so close but so far from ending the West Indies’ early ODI dominance. Originally published in The Cricketer’s Almanac 2019.

He had never seen a replay – he didn’t want to, he didn’t have to. He knew what happened when he gave the ball to Viv Richards and he knew the impact. Hendrik’s last delivery to Richards on the day, magically destined for six, was the defining image of the game. However, it was the first ball that Hendricks bowled to Richards in his second spell that is his most vivid memory from the World Cup.

1979 Cricket World Cup

1979 Cricket World Cup

“It went down the slope and Viva moved to her stumps: big thump on the pad, big scream,” he said. “Barry Meyer said don’t come out. I couldn’t believe it. The kids who weren’t playing saw the replay because they all went out on the balcony to indicate it was out.

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Richards, then 22, went on to make the Royals 138 instead of hanging on, and Hendrick’s call was one of several moments in that final – some beyond England’s control and others – that left them grappling with life’s bitterest questions. : Yes?

Forty years on, there are still two interpretations of the tournament that saw England’s men reach the final on home soil for the first time. The first is that the West Indies are as close as damn unbeatable. The other is that England have come very close, much closer than the margin of defeat suggests, to stunning worlds, as India did in 1983.

History can also be written by losers, but fewer people want to read their version. The majority of the England team felt that, while the result was not necessarily a lie, it was economical with regard to the truth. As Bob Willis said, “Nobody is going to convince me that we’re on the poorer side of 92.”

The 2019 World Cup will have as much in common with the 1979 version as an iMac Pro has with an Atari 800. Most of the time, it’s not even called the World Cup, but the Prudential Cup. Each innings lasted 60 overs; the group matches were played simultaneously, as were the semi-finals. There were no floodlights, field restrictions or colorful clothing, although Australia’s Gary Cozier wore a shirt that went down to his navel.

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Most of the England squad played in the quarter-finals of the Benson and Hedge Cup three days before kick-off, with the squad assembled less than 48 hours before the first leg. As always, Ian Botham is headline news. “Botham in stag do rumpus”, shouted

. “For three hours a crowd of 200 men had been drinking and betting on horse racing movies before two strippers arrived.” At one stage a fight broke out, although Botham denied involvement. One viewer said

The start of the World Cup was a little more relaxed: a reception at Buckingham Palace and a familiar photo at Lord’s, where the eight teams were side by side. Some famous faces are missing, including the Chappell brothers, Dennis Lillee, Rodney Marsh, Alan Knott and Derek Underwood: England and Australia are without their Packer players. West Indies and Pakistan chose theirs.

1979 Cricket World Cup

Australia set the tone in their first game against England at Lord’s – they were 14 for nothing after ten overs. It is by far the best bowler in the World Cup with the lowest average of runs per wicket (25) and per opponent (3.54). No team has scored 300 and England have only reached 200 once; not even Australia or India could cope. There are 28 sixes. The first part of each innings is like a test match with two or three overs and the orthodox openers trying to catch the shine. West Indies manager Clyde Walcott said his team would play themselves for the first 30 overs before the last 30 overs. On average, there are 13 virgins per game.

File:1979 Cricket World Cup Results.svg

With Pakistan favorites for most of the crowd, England vs Australia at Lord’s was considered a quarter-final. Chasing 160, England won comfortably despite an early setback. Geoff Boycott took more wickets (two) than runs (one) and his bowling became a feature of the tournament, surprising everyone except his captain Mike Briley. With the World Cup on his mind, he called Boycott in the winter to ask him to practice his slow-medium swingers, which he bowled, often off the wicket, with a cap (though not, as legend has it, reversed). ). They were instrumental in three of England’s four victories. This is his chance to have fun. He almost had a smile on his face and Boycott Boycott became a cult hero. Some of the best cheers came when he took the goal.

Then there’s Derek Rendell’s game. He’s managed four runs — one more than any other nation overall — and likely more on television replays. Randall could not buy runs in the group stages but justified his position by going around cover or midwicket and fighting to court the batsmen with a safe single. England’s fielding and excellent bowling are their strongest suits.

It wasn’t quite World Cup fever – it was the 1970s – but Randall and Boycott especially won the public’s goodwill, and the England players took advantage of the usual photo opportunities. Botham and Hendricks pose at the celebrity clay pigeon shoot in Ducks Hill Road, Ruislip. On the day of the Pakistan match, Boycott joined the frenzy that briefly gripped the country by holding a teaspoon up his nose.

England’s second group game was against Canada, one of two Associates; the other, Sri Lanka, is two years away from Test status. The ICC Trophy qualifier was played in England before the World Cup, too late to stop the press: the official team program list had “Associates A&B” on the cover.

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Canada’s qualification was happily unexpected. Their left-arm seamer John Valentine told Willis, “It’s the biggest thrill of my life playing with you guys.” In all, Valentine dismissed Majid Khan, Mike Briley and Rick Darling, while Glenroy Seeley hit four consecutive fours against Australia’s Rodney Hogg. In one of the few vignettes that didn’t seem out of place in 2019, Canada were 33 after three overs.

However, they lost all three games convincingly and were bowled out by England for 45. Twenty-one of those came from Franklin Dennis, who later succumbed to a bounce from Willis that left him on the stumps. Chris Old has the numbers 10-5-8-4. Canada’s innings lasted 40.3 overs and the match ended on the second night due to rain, a feature of the tournament. At one stage it looked as if England might be disappointed with no result as the West Indies face Sri Lanka despite having two days in reserve for each match. But they raced to their target of 46 in near darkness to win by a day. It is day/night cricket without floodlights.

Pakistan also beat Canada and Australia, so they and England qualified with a match in hand. But their meeting at Headingley was far from over: with the winner, rightly assumed, New Zealand in the semi-finals; losers, West Indies at The Oval. Both sides have been open about their desire to run the group for that reason alone. England won by 14 runs thanks to unlikely heroics from Willis and Boycott. On a difficult pitch, Willis’ spirited 24 – which will remain his best in ODIs – dragged them to 165 for nine. It looked like it wasn’t enough as Pakistan raced to 27 in vain. Then for a few magical minutes the gods smiled on Hendrick. His career has been defined by batting and skipping, but he took four for three in eight balls against Pakistan. “Maybe I got a little lucky once.”

1979 Cricket World Cup

He would finish as the tournament’s leading run-scorer with ten under-15s and an economy rate of 2.66. “Apart from bowling a yorker at the death, I haven’t changed my style from one-day cricket to Tests,” he said. “I just did what I did. I was never a star but I was a good back-up. They say I bowl too short and if I make it I’ll get more people. One thing I would say is: ” How did anyone know that?!”

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Pakistan’s mighty lower order is reunited – Imran Khan at no. 9 – before Brearley gave the ball not to Phil Edmonds but to Boycott who took the last two wickets. Wasim Bari was well caught behind Bob Taylor who had otherwise poor competition; then Sikander Bakht, who only needed to support Imran, had a powerful shot and Hendrick caught him brilliantly at deep mid-off. Tensions boiled over into crowd trouble, with Denis Compton lamenting “football-style brawling” in the Daily Express. Bottles, cans