The game of Cricket has today attained global fame. While test cricket really can be called the real form of the game, it was the One Day Internationals (ODIs) which brought the real appeal to the sport. The first world championship of Cricket was held in 1975 and known as the 1975 Prudential World Cup.
It was a fortnight-long mega event held in England, the home of cricket. The then strongest side in the world West Indies took home the glory as the 1975 Prudential World Cup Champions. As the Corona-virus has put a stop to new cricketing action, we take you back to the memory lanes to rewind that historic championship.
The Format and Participating Teams
The first limited over match was held in 1971 in Australia. Exactly 4 years after that, 8 best sides in the world were brought together for the first global championship. They were organized in 2 groups of 4 teams each. The format of the 1975 Prudential World Cup was such that each side would play its every other team in its group once. Unlike today’s matches, the number of overs per innings in the 1975 cricket world cup was 60. The 4 venues for the matches were Lords, Oval, Nottingham, and Leeds.
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The Indian side was led by Srinivasaraghavan Venkataraghavan. The tournament’s opening match was played between India and England which the hosts won by an astonishing 202 runs. England and New Zealand finished at the top of Group A. The hosts won all three league matches and the Kiwis won 2 of their matches. A similar story would phase out in Group B where West Indies remained at the top with 3 match wins and 12 points. They were followed by Australia in the 2nd position with 8 points and 2 match victories. The top 4 sides of 1975 Prudential World Cup would then progress to the knockout stage.
The 1975 Prudential World Cup Semi-finals
The first semis were played between Australia and hosts England. The Kangaroos won the match courtesy one player, Gary Gilmour. The left-handed all-rounder was the difference between the two sides. He first led the Aussie bowling department claiming 6 wickets and thus ensuring that the English side was bundled out on a paltry score of 93. When the English bowlers got their side back claiming 6 Aussie top order batsmen on 39 runs, Gilmour would again rise to the occasion. He scored an unbeaten 28 runs and thus heroically led his side to a place to first ever cricket world cup final.
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West Indies had been the best side of the tournament. They showed the same zeal in their 1975 Prudential World Cup semi-final match against New Zealand. The Caribbean pace battery was too much for the Kiwi batsmen who were knocked out in 52 overs for just 158 runs. The Caribbean pace trio of Bernard Julien, Andy Roberts, and Vanburn Holder claimed 9 of the 10 Kiwi wickets. In their innings, the West Indies got home without much fuss. Gordon Greenidge and Alvin Kallicharran led the batting order with a 125 run second wicket partnership. The West Indies side was home in 40 overs with 5 wickets still in hand.
West Indies become World Champions
West Indies and Australia who had earlier played each other at the Oval in a 1975 Prudential World Cup league match met once again in the final. It was played at Lords, the Mecca of Cricket. Both sides had powerful batsmen as well as bowlers and the match was expected to be a nail-biter. The West Indies team won the toss of 1975 Prudential World Cup final and chose to bat first. However, they did not have the desired start losing the first 3 wickets for mere 50 runs.
They were then in need of an inspiring knock that came from their captain. When Clive Lloyd came to bat his side was tattering with the loss of top order. The powerful lefthander would however play the best innings of his ODI career. Lloyd scored a blitzkrieg like 102 runs in 85 balls to put his in a commanding position. The West Indies would finish their innings at a great score of 291 runs.
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The Australians in return had a decent start but kept losing wickets at regular intervals. Their skipper Ian Chappell scored a gutsy knock of 62 runs but that was not enough to pull his side through. The 10th wicket partnership of 41 runs between Jeff Thomson and Dennis Lillee took the Aussie side near to the total. They were however bowled out in 59th over with 8 balls remaining and 17 runs short of the target. The West Indies had thus become the first World Champions of one day cricket, at the 1975 Prudential World Cup.
The Clive Lloyd led side would then go on to dominate test and one day cricket for almost a decade. They built the greatest batting line-up and bowling pace battery that the world of cricket has ever seen. The Caribbean team would not lose a World Cup match till 1983 final when an inspired Indian side led by Kapil Dev shocked them into defeat.