The West Indies completely dominated World Cup cricket in the initial stages of the tournament’s history, but since then, they haven’t even come close. They did win the World T20 championship in Sri Lanka two years ago. But as far as ODI World Cups go, they won the inaugural Prudential World Cup in 1975, then again in 1979, and were stopped from winning it a third time by India in the 1983 final.
All the three finals took place at Lord’s - the iconic “home of cricket” - and the one in 1983 proved that teams other than the West Indies could also win the tournament. They did make it to the semi-finals in 1996 but lost to Australia in a closely fought contest by just 5 runs.
One could say that the Indians have a knack of ending a team’s domination at World Cups, as they broke Australia’s streak of three consecutive World Cups in 2011 by ousting them from the tournament in the quarter-finals.
Here goes a detailed analysis of how the men from the Caribbean have fared in the championships:
They have a fairly healthy overall winning percentage at World Cups, and the wins are largely skewed towards the earlier editions of the tournament, while the losses appear more towards the latter editions. Their favourite opposition are Zimbabwe against whom they have a perfect record, while their least impressive record is against the English.
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Favourite opposition – Zimbabwe
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Least favoured opposition – England
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They have had great cricketers like Sir Viv Richards, Sir Richie Richardson, Brian Lara, Carl Hooper as captains, but none of them have achieved close to what the first of them did.
Clive Lloyd is, arguably, the best World Cup captain of all-time. He led his country to two World Cup victories in addition to a World Cup final. Australia’s Ricky Ponting comes close with two wins. Although he had an impeccable team at his command with some of the greatest names of the game in his line-up, his brilliant tactics as captain played a huge role in the dominance that West Indies cricket had on world cricket for a better part of 10 years.
He was captain for 17 World Cup games and led his team to victory in 15 of them. They won all of their matches in 1975 and 1979. In 1983, meanwhile, they lost twice to India, once in the group stages and then again in the final.
In addition to his astute captaincy, he was also an excellent batsman who had a whopping 31,232 first-class runs and 10,915 List A runs to his name.
West Indies registered wins against Sri Lanka, Pakistan and Australia to cruise through the group stages. They were table toppers as expected when they entered the knockouts. Their first encounter was with New Zealand in the semi-finals.
The Kiwis only managed to put on 158 on the board as Bernard Julien, Andy Roberts and Vanburn Holder ran through their line-up. Man of the match Alvin Kallicharran led the chase for the West Indies with the high score of 72, and Gordon Greenidge helped with a handy 55. They won the game by 5 wickets.
The final was as dramatic a game as any. West Indies produced a mixed bag of performances batting first – opener Fredericks got out hit wicket, falling onto his stumps following a miscued hook to Dennis Lillee, Greenidge scored just the 13 off 61 balls, and skipper Lloyd smashed a hundred off just 85 balls. Rohan Kanhai partnered him well at the other end without doing much of the hitting himself. West Indies posted 291/8 from their allocated 60 overs.
Australia’s reply was stunted to start with, but an innings of 62 from captain Ian Chappell helped the Aussies post a recovery. However, they were staring down the barrel at 233/9 when a 41-run last wicket stand between Dennis Lillee and Jeff Thomson took them to within 18 runs of a win.
The partnership was finally broken when the West Indies effected the fifth run-out of the Australian innings. Richards, who hadn’t contributed with the bat in the game, made up for it by effecting three of them.
Once again, the Lloyd-led side was at the top of the table as they entered the knockouts. The semi-final against Pakistan saw all of their batsmen among the runs as they put on a formidable 293 for Pakistan to chase, with Greenidge top-scoring with 73. Pakistan received an early setback in their reply when they lost their first wicket with just 10 on the board. But then, Majid Khan and Zaheer Abbas pulled off a resurrection with a 166-run partnership.
Both of them were sent back by Colin Croft, who then dismissed Javed Miandad leg before off his very first delivery. Richards followed suit and cleaned up the middle-order with the wickets of Asif Iqbal, Mudassar Nazar and Imran Khan. Roberts was only too happy to take out the tail after that to hand the West Indies a 43-run win and their second World Cup finals berth.
The stars of the final were the destructive Richards and Collis King. The former got a hundred while the latter played the role of the subordinate with a quick-fire 66-ball 86 as West Indies put on 286 on the board. All was going well for England with the score at 183/2 with Derek Randall and Graham Gooch at the crease at one stage.
Joel Garner and Croft demolished the England batting with 5 and 3 wickets, respectively, within a space of 11 runs to hand West Indies a comfortable 92-run win and the title of supremacy once again.
West Indies’ first loss in World Cups came in the third edition of the tournament when they lost against India on 9 June, 1983, in a group game. It was inconsequential, however, as they reached the finals, where India proved to be the better team once again just 16 days later.
The semi-final was hardly a close game as they chased down Pakistan’s paltry total of 184 for the loss of just 2 wickets. Richards was top-scorer once again with 80 not out.
The final was something that not even the staunchest of Indian fans would’ve expected. India had put on just 183 on the board, which looked very much gettable at the innings break. But it wasn’t just meant to happen for the two-time World Cup winners this time.
Greenidge being bowled through the gate courtesy of a peach from seamer Balwinder Singh Sandhu, the famous mistimed hook from the in-form Richards followed by the stunner caught by Kapil Dev hurtling towards the boundary, and the crucial wicket of wicketkeeper Jeff Dujon off the bowling of Man of the Match Mohinder Amarnath – all did the work of putting India in the driver’s seat as they registered a historic 43-run win and ended the West Indian domination once and for all.
They finished fourth in their group and were just able to scrape through to the quarter-finals on the basis of net run rate, as Bangladesh had as many points (3 wins from 6 games) as they had. They registered wins against Bangladesh, Ireland and the Netherlands but lost to India, England and South Africa.
The quarter-final was a forgettable game for them in which they were bulldozed out of the tournament by Pakistan. They managed only 112 batting first, and Pakistan reached home with all 10 wickets intact. West Indies finished 8th overall, their lowest ever standing in a World Cup. They were eliminated in the quarter-finals in all World Cups apart from the 1975, 1979, 1983 and 1996 editions.
Brian Lara is the top World Cup batsman for his country with 1225 runs in 34 games, including two hundreds, at an average of 42.24. Sir Viv is a close second with 1013 runs in just 23 games including three hundreds.
Courtney Walsh is the most successful bowler with 27 scalps from 17 games, Andy Roberts follows second with 26, and Curtly Ambrose is third with 24.
Out of the contemporary ones, Shivnarine Chanderpaul has the most runs (970) and Kemar Roach has the most (13) wickets to his name.
As far as individual match performances go, Sir Viv tops the list. His match-winning performances of 181 against Sri Lanka at Karachi (1987), 138* against England at Lord’s (1979) and 119 versus India at the Oval (1983) occupy the top three places. Gayle’s 119 versus Kenya (2003) and Lara’s two hundreds against South Africa (2003, 1996) follow.
Winston Davis’s 7/51 against Australia at Leeds in 1983 and Kemar Roach’s 6/27 against the Dutch at Delhi in 2011 top the list of best bowling figures in an innings.
World Cup 1996 – Semi Final (West Indies v Australia, Mohali)
West Indies looked all set for another final with Ambrose and Ian Bishop doing the early damage with 2 wickets apiece, sending back the Waugh brothers, Ricky Ponting and Mark Taylor with just 15 on the scoreboard. Stuart Law and Michael Bevan began the rebuilding process and took the score from 15/4 to 153 before they got out within minutes of each other. Ian Healy contributed with a much valuable 31 in the latter part of the innings.
The West Indies were well on track with Chanderpaul (80) and Richie Richardson (49) batting, with only 43 required with 8 wickets in hand. Glenn McGrath then sent back Chanderpaul, and something followed which Richardson at the other end could never have been prepared for. He ran out of partners just 5 runs short of the target.
Roger Harper was out next - leg before again to McGrath. Bishop, Ottis Gibson and Jimmy Adams fell prey to Warne’s spin, Ambrose was run out, and Keith Arthurton and Walsh were sent back by Damien Fleming to hand Australia a thrilling victory by 5 runs.
World Cup 2003 (West Indies v South Africa, Cape Town)
West Indies batted first. Chris Gayle and Wavell Hinds departed early, and it was a perfect setting for Lara to take his time and craft a masterpiece with the likes of Chanderpaul, Hooper and Ricardo Powell supporting him at the other end. He scored 116 off 134 balls in an innings that was slow and watchful to begin with but gathered pace towards the end.
Powell smashed a 40 off 18 balls and Ramnaresh Sarwan belted 32 off just 15 to give West Indies a late boost and take their score to 278, a score which once seemed very improbable.
Opener Gary Kirsten held the fort for the Proteas initially with a handy 69. Mark Boucher took matters into his hands after he got out and scored 49 off 49 to take the South Africans over the 200-mark, bringing hopes of a victory back. Lance Klusener continued the good work. He got to his fifty in a flash, hitting 5 sixes and just the one boundary.
He fell off the third ball of the 49th and final over of the game (they were penalised one over for slow bowling), with 8 runs still needed to win. Makhaya Ntini ate up the next two balls for his short innings, and Nicky Boje faced the final delivery without scoring. West Indies won the dramatic opener by 3 runs to set the tone for the rest of the tournament.