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1979 World Cup Recap - Revisiting unforgettable moments

The 1979 World Cup was the second edition of the World and West Indies retained the trophy and continued their domination in ODI cricket.

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West Indies captain lifting WC Trophy
West Indies captain lifting WC Trophy. (Photo Source: ken Kelly/Popperfoto via Getty Images/Getty Images)


The 1979 World Cup was the second installment of the ODI Cricket World Cup played from June 9 to June 23, 1979. The tournament saw the repetition of the 1975 format, whereby, eight teams were divided into two groups for the initial stage, followed by the knockout round. In the marquee competition, the West Indies participated as the defending champions and successfully defended the title with their dominating performances.

The Windies team thrashed England in the final at the iconic Lord’s and went back home with the distinguished trophy. In this World Cup edition, Pakistan grabbed the headlines for beating the heavyweights Australia in order to qualify for the semi-final. Under the captaincy of Asif Iqbal, Pakistan ended their journey in the semi-final, losing to the defending champions by 43 runs.

Participating teams and format

The tournament saw the participation of eight teams in the competition with six regular members viz- India, Pakistan, Australia, New Zealand, England, and the West Indies having qualified for the tournament directly. Sri Lanka broke into the tournament after winning the maiden ICC Trophy, while Canada made their debut in the ODI World Cup after ending their journey as the runners-up in the qualification tournament in the form of the 1979 ICC Trophy.

Meanwhile, speaking of the 1979 World Cup, Clive Lloyd again guided the Caribbean side to the trophy win and showcased his captaincy mettle. Graham Gooch, Michael Holding, John Wright, Ian Botham, Joel Garner, and Sikander Bakht played their debut World Cup edition and emerged as top performers in the competition.

Like the 1975 installment of the World Cup, the 1979 World Cup also saw eight teams placed in two groups with four sides each playing one another once. The two sides ending at the top of the table advanced to the knockouts after the cricketing action in the group stage.

Also Check: ODI Cricket World Cup Winners List from 1975 to 2023

Iconic matches and moments

England-v-New-Zealand. (Photo Source: Twitter)

The tournament began with the arch-rivals England and Australia locking horns with each other. Taking advantage of home conditions, the hosts hammered the Aussies by six wickets, at the iconic Lord’s ground. Following the comprehensive victory against the Aussies, England continued their confident approach against Canada and Pakistan and emerged as the table-toppers with twelve points. 

In the semi-final at Old Trafford, the English team registered a close nine-run win over New Zealand and became the third team to qualify for the final of the ICC World Cups. In the final at the Lord’s, the West Indies outclassed England in all departments of the game and won the game in a dominating fashion by 92 runs.

Key performers  

Sir Gordon Greenidge
Sir Gordon Greenidge. (Photo Source: Patrick Eagar/Popperfoto via Getty Images)

In the Windies’ side’s successful title defence, Gordon Greenidge, Vivian Richards, Michael Holding, Colin Croft, and Joel Garner made crucial contributions. Greenidge scored 253 runs in four matches and ended up as the leading run-scorer in the competition. Following him, Richards notched up 217 runs in four games and concluded the tournament as the second-highest run-getter.

Playing the final game against England, Richards hit an unbeaten 138 which helped the Caribbean side to put up a massive total of 286 runs on the board. The top-order batter also got the Player of the Match award for his stunning batting display. In the bowling department, Holding, Croft, and Garner did their job efficiently, picking up eight wickets each in the tournament. After Richards’ and Collis King’s magnificent batting in the final, Garner ran through England’s batting order and guided his team to the enormous win. Joel picked up a fifer in the match.

Talking about exceptional performers from other sides, Graham Gooch became the top-scorer for England with 210 runs in five matches, at a strike rate of 63.82. With the ball, Mike Hendrick scalped 10 wickets in five games and ended up as the leading wicket-taker in the competition. Glenn Turner continued his excellent World Cup performance from the 1975 edition. The veteran scored 176 runs in four games and became the most successful batter for New Zealand in the competition.


Canada Team Player.
Canada Team Player. (Photo Source: Twitter)

Ahead of the World Cup, the 1979 ICC Trophy was played through which minor teams such as Sri Lanka and Canada also got a chance to qualify for the championship. Both sides reached the final of the ICC Trophy and punched their tickets to appear in the second World Cup edition.

Sri Lanka, who had the experience of featuring in the World Cup earlier in 1975, performed a turnaround in the competition. The Island nation vanquished India by 47 runs in the Group B match played at Old Trafford, and tasted their maiden triumph in World Cups. 

Impact on cricket

West Indies captain lifting WC Trophy
West Indies captain lifting WC Trophy. (Photo Source: Ken Kelly/Popperfoto via Getty Images/Getty Images)

The Windies' title victory in the competition promoted cricket in the Caribbean islands. After the West Indies’ maiden World Cup win in 1975, ODI cricket became famous among folks in Caribbean nations. With the 1979 triumph, cricket started gaining a lot of fans in the region. 

After the 1979 World Cup, cricket became famous in Asian countries such as Pakistan and Sri Lanka. Under the captaincy of Asif Iqbal, Pakistan beat Canada and Australia and reached the semi-final for the first time. Sri Lanka’s win over India was also something that helped cricket earn some fans in the island nation as well.

Personal stories

Viv Richards
Viv Richards. (Photo Source: X(Twitter)

Back in 2015, Sir Viv Richards, the hero of the 1979 World Cup final, appeared on the Rewind series of the Lord’s channel and recounted the famous win against England at the iconic Lord’s. 

“I remember I got started by pulling one to wide mid-on. That started things," said Richards with a smile on his face.

During the match, Richards survived an appeal for leg-by-wicket on Mike Hendrick’s delivery. Talking about it, the former West Indian batter said that sparked the debate of blocking across the line.

“The next delivery, that particular shot was what brought the topic of blocking across the line. It was outside the line,” Richards continued. 

In the big game, the West Indies were four down on 99 after being put to bat first after losing the toss. Richards, who was already at the crease, stitched a 139-run partnership with Collis King which helped the Windies team to post a massive score of 286 runs on the board. Discussing the partnership with King, Richards commended his colleague.

“Actually we were four down I think or five with Collis King in. He came in and wow!”

Furthermore shedding an interesting insight on the whole match situation, the legendary West Indian iterated that King was terrific on that day as his vital knock had set aside the weight of pressure off his head and it helped him to ease down while on the crease. Additionally, Sir Viv Richards also lauded Collis Kings and said that he thoroughly deserved a Century on that memorable day.

“The burden that was on my head, he helped to remove it with the knock he played. “He was brutal to everyone inside. It helped me a lot in particular because someone came and showed me how it’s done. Collis was just marvellous that day, should’ve gone on to score a hundred. That particular delivery, Mike Hendrick looking to go full but didn’t get it right, clipped it for six!”

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