Perhaps the biggest disappointment of Clive Lloyd’s illustrious career was the failure to win the World Cup outright, by capturing it for a third successive time in 1983. As it was, Kapil Dev’s hard-working attack—coupled with some Caribbean complacency—produced a major upset, signalling to other nations that the West Indies’ dominance of one-day cricket was over. Since that watershed, the West Indies have flopped badly, unable to reach the semi-finals in both 1987 and 1992.
That 1983 set-back at Lord’s still rankles Lloyd. "India deserved to win, no doubt about that," he said. "It was just such an anticlimax, I had desperately wanted that trophy." However, Lloyd, a match referee for the forthcoming World Cup, still has sweet memories of a competition which seemed tailor-made for him when it was introduced almost 21 years ago. He had already enjoyed considerable success in limited overs competitions with Lancashire—then nicknamed the ‘Kings of One-Day Cricket’—and he was at the head of a powerful West Indies side which included Viv Richards, batting at number six.
They swept aside Sri Lanka in the first game of 1975, but then had to fight all the way to beat Pakistan by one wicket. Lloyd fell to Javed Miandad after hitting 53 and it seemed as though a target of 267 would be well beyond them, until tail-ender Andy Roberts joined wicket-keeper Deryk Murray. It turned into one of the most remarkable games in the history of the World Cup.
Lloyd recalled: "I don’t honestly believe any of us in the dressing room thought we could do it. Sixty-four runs needed and the last pair at the crease. But my accountant Gordon Andrews, who had put a £50 bet on us, remained full of spirits and even brought in a crate of ale. The tension rose, the bottles began to disappear quickly and, run by run, the target came closer. Pakistan began to panic, while Deryk and Andy—unflappable characters at the best of times—just became cooler. The scenes were incredible when Andy pushed Wasim Raja onto the leg-side for the winning run with two balls left.
"I have never known such scenes of elation. Men with years of cricket experience were jumping up and down and hugging each other. Some were sobbing uncontrollably. And don’t think I was all calm and dignity through it all. I did a bit of hugging and shouting myself. That was a very important win. After that I believe the whole team knew they would not be stopped and would win the Cup. It was the type of performance which helped to erase the myth that the West Indies were no good at fighting back from behind."
And so it proved. Lloyd covered himself in glory in the final against Australia, striking the fearsome pace attack of Dennis Lillee and Jeff Thomson for a magnificent century and taking the West Indies from 50 for three to a daunting 291. The Aussies battled bravely, none more so than Lillee and Thomson who added 41 for the last wicket, but they succumbed by 27 runs after a game which had enthralled a packed Lord’s from 11 am to 8.42 pm. Lloyd handed a lot of the credit to veteran Rohan Kanhai, who providedan anchor role while his tall, powerfully-built captain hooked and drove the Aussies to distraction. Lloyd’s 100 came in 82 balls and the famous commentator John Arlott joked, "That was a maiden ball," when, for once, he failed to punish a delivery.
"We had lost early wickets, including Roy Fredericks who was very unlucky to tread on his stumps," said Lloyd. "But from the moment I first hit the ball, I knew it was one of those days when everything would go right for me."
Four years later, again at Lord’s, there was another huge Caribbean celebration. This time, the Man of the Match was Viv Richards for his wonderful, unbeaten 138 in the West Indies’ total of 286. Collis King scored a breathtaking 86 off 66 balls, with three sixes, leaving England with cause to feel aggrieved: only two other batsmen got into double figures.
"We were 99 for four at one stage and in trouble. But England had gone into the match with only four specialist bowlers and paid the penalty,"
Lloyd explained. "Eventually they distributed 12 overs between Geoff Boycott, Graham Gooch and Wayne Larkins and those three were hammered for a total of 86 runs. It gave us a big total, and although Boycott and Mike Brearley put on 129 for their opening stand, they scored far too slowly. It left the other batsmen with too much to do and Joel Garner finished them off with a flurry of wickets." Lloyd’s memories contain some bitter moments, notably the lack of official recognition in the Caribbean for the team’s exploits in 1975 and 1979, and then that defeat by India. But most of the memories are sweet: "I was proud to hold that Cup and still am."