Following the format of six “deliveries” each of which raises a specific point of interest, the Tooting Trumpet watches not a day’s cricket, but documentaries on previous World Cups and posts “an over”.
Ball One – After just 18 ODIs, Cricket had the cojones to launch its first World Cup in June 1975. This most complex and time-consuming of games, with its loose governing system of those lorded over and who did the lording in the not-so-long ago colonial days, can be surprisingly nimble when it comes to making tournaments happen. The first World Twenty20 and the IPL didn’t take long to get off the ground either. Like the first World Twenty20 and the first edition of the IPL, the first World Cup was a tremendous success, blessed with an extraordinary climax.
Ball Two – In the taped interviews, overseas players protest that they did not know what to do in this newfangled one day game, but England’s players (and those players, many West Indian, who had played in English county cricket, which had one day cricket tournaments for years or in the leagues which had done so for decades) did know how to play, as England’s innings in the inaugural World Cup match shows. With an opener (Dennis Amiss) going at almost a run-a-ball for a big ton and a bowler (Chris Old) promoted to long-handle a fifty at the death, Mike Denness’ boys produced a very 21st century dig. India – shall we say – didn’t.
Ball Three – Big Clive – tall, left-handed, unconventional – used his long arms and a grip right at the top of the handle to hit the ball very hard indeed. Like fellow leftie bowler shredder, Adam Gilchrist, he could be a bit loose in the one day game, but had hand-eye coordination to die for. Squinting through his glasses, upright at the crease, has there ever been a more frightening sight at twenty yards distance? Clive Lloyd, as much a man of Lancashire as of Guyana, was my father’s hero – I could, and can, see why.
Ball Four – Whites, red ball, no helmets and plenty of empty seats in the stands for the early games. No game was more deserving of a capacity crowd than the Edgbaston clash between Pakistan and West Indies. With 101 needed and just two wickets left, the wise old heads of Deryck Murray and Vanburn Holder supported by the much under-rated batting of Andy Roberts (check out his figures in World Series Cricket) got the Windies over the line in an unforgettable finish on a ground dappled by the slanting midsummer sunshine. The panic evident as Pakistan’s ground fielding disintegrates under pressure, was something with which we would become familiar – from all sides.
Ball Five – How players were not injured by fans invading the ground at the end of play and hoisting their heroes shoulder-high, remains a mystery. For years, it was standard practice for thousands to sprint from boundary to the square in a riot of bonhomie with the opportunity to pilfer a stump, cap or bail as a souvenir a nice bonus. There was usually a single policeman in shot exhorting the manic masses to return to their seats – they didn’t. Dickie Bird’s white cap seems to have been the only casualty and he even got that back from the bus conductor who pinched it!
Ball Six – I remember feeling a sense of injustice as I watched Roy Fredericks hook full-bloodedly and smash the ferocious Dennis Lillee into the Warner Stand at Lord’s right at the start of the Final. At 12 years old, I don’t think I had seen a hit wicket dismissal before and I felt the tiny Guyanese should have been given another go. Watching it again, almost thirty-six years later, I still think that. It was a six off DK Lillee FFS!
If you have any thoughts on or memories of the 1975 World Cup, please comment below.
The Tooting Trumpet, whom you can often find at Testmatchsofa.com and on Twitter at @garynaylor999 and @Fakeadil.