By Sean Devers
In December 1960 at Brisbane in Australia the first ever tie in test cricket was achieved when Joe Solomon ran out Ian Mckkiff with a direct hit with one stump to aim at with the scores level.
While Solomon just managed a solitary hundred from his 27 tests he will always be remembered for his part in the tied test.
He got out in a bizarre fashion in the first innings when he trod on his wicket after making a solid 65 and then, with a direct hit, ended a century partnership between Alan Davidson and Richie Benaud by running out Davidson for 80 with Australia closing in on victory.
Two overs later, with the scores level, Solomon ran out Meckiff to write his name forever in the history books of West Indies cricket. Although Sobers had scored 132 and O’Neill responded with 181, the hero of the match was Solomon, the little man with the magic arm from British Guiana (re-named Guyana after Independence on May 26th 1966).
West Indies lost that 1960/61 five-test series 2-1 but rebounded to beat India 5-nil in the Caribbean in 1962.
In the third test in Barbados, Lance Gibbs, who became the first spinner to claim 300 test wickets, wrecked the Indians on the final day when they appeared well set to draw the match at 158-2.
The lanky off-spinner snatched eight wickets for six runs in 15.3 sensational overs to finish with 8-32, at that time the best bowling figures by a West Indian in a test innings. He finished with 24 scalps in the series.
England lost 3-1 in the 1963 series in England before West Indies defeated Australia 2-1 in the 1964/65 home series with Gibbs bagging 6-29 at Bourda in the third test.
In 1966 West Indies won the 5-test series 3-1 in England, while West Indies beat India 1-nil in the 3-test series in 1966/67 as Conrad Hunte scored the only century by a West Indian in the series in the first-test victory.
The 1968 English 5-test tour to the West Indies ended with a 1-nil victory for the visitors before the West Indies lost the 1968/69 series in Australia 3-1.
West Indies traveled to New Zealand for the 1969 three-test series and the series ended in a 1-1 draw with Semoure Nurse making 258 in the final test which ended in a draw.
England won the three-test series in England 1-nil in 1969 before India registered their only series win in the West Indies (correct to 2006) with a 1-nil triumph in the 5-test series in 1971.
In the second test in Trinidad, spinner Jack Noreiga took 9-95 which still remains the best bowling performance by a West Indian in a test innings but this could not prevent India, set 125 to win, from achieving victory with seven wickets in hand.
After Irving Shillingford removed Vinood Mankad for 45 to break a 68-run opening stand, Noreiga captured every other wicket in the Indian first innings as they were dismissed for 352 replying to the home team’s 214.
Off-spinner Shivaramakrishna Venkataraghavan then bagged 5-95 as West Indies fell for 261 in their second innings despite 80 from Roy Fredericks and an unbeaten 74 from Charlie Davis who made 71 in the first innings.
India’s opener Sunil Gavaskar scored four centuries and three fifties in the series despite missing the first test and a calypso about ‘the little master’ was made after he scored a century and a double in the last test in Trinidad.
Gavaskar, who finished his career with 10,122 runs from 125 tests at an average of 51.12, scored 13 of his 34 centuries against West Indies.
All of the games in the 1972 five-test series against New Zealand in the West Indies were drawn before Australia beat the home team 2-nil in the 1973 five-test series when Kanhai took over the captaincy.
In the series against New Zealand, the elegant Jamaican Lawrence Rowe burst onto the test arena with a double century (214) and 100 not out in the first test on his home ground to become the first cricketer to score 300 runs in his first test and the only West Indian to date to score a double and single hundred on debut. That his career lasted only 30 tests and produced just seven centuries is one of the biggest disappointments in West Indies cricket.
Dogged by several injuries including an amazing allergy to grass, Rowe’s career ended when he decided to lead a ‘rebel’ team to South Africa.
In that same 1972 series, Alvin Kallicharran made his debut with an unbeaten 100 on his home ground Bourda before registering another century in his next innings in Trinidad.
West Indies beat England 2-0 in the 1973 series in England including a commanding 226-run win at Lords with Kanhai making 157 and Sobers scoring an unbeaten 150 as their team piled up a total of 652-8 declared. Bernard Julien made 121, while Roy Fredericks and Clive Lloyd made half-centuries.
The 1974 home series against England was drawn 1-all with Rowe making three centuries in that series including a brilliant 309 on his home ground, Sabina Park.
This was the last series as captain for Kanhai, who along with Sobers, played the final match in their illustrious careers in the final test of the that series against England before Clive Lloyd took over as skipper.
THE CLIVE LLOYD ERA:
Kanhai led the West Indies 13 times before the Clive Lloyd era began in 1974 when the West Indies toured India.
Viv Richards and Gordon Greenidge, soon to become the world’s best opening pair, both made their debuts under Lloyd on that tour, which the West Indies won 3-2.
Greenidge (a Barbadian who grew up and learnt his cricket in England) made 93 and 107 in his first match, while Richards (from the small 108-square mile of Antigua) slammed an unbeaten 192 in the second test as the invincible team of the 1980’s began to take shape. Lloyd also led from the front with a brutal unbeaten 242 in the last test.
With Roy Fredericks in ripping form with two tons in the India series and the first World Cup (1975) under their belt, confidence was high as Lloyd’s men traveled to Australia for the 1976 series.
The West Indies boasted a powerful batting line up-Greenidge, Fredricks, Kallicharran, Rowe, Lloyd, Murray, Julien and Boyce.
That they lost the six-Test series 5-1 is now history. West Indies had no answer for the relentless and hostile pace attack spearheaded by the lethal Denis Lillie and Jeff Thompson who produced raw pace with a slinging round-arm action.
Things got so bad that Fredricks, who hit an explosive 169 (71 balls with 18 fours and a six) in the only test the West Indies won, changed three opening partners (Greenidge, Julien and Richards) during the series.
Richards scored 30, 101, 50 and 98 in his four innings as opener, while Lloyd scored a century when West Indies won the second test, but the pace was just too much for the Caribbean batsmen on the lightning fast pitches. Lance Gibbs took 5-102 in the first test but, not assisted by the hard tracks, only managed nine wickets in the next five matches.
It was a true trashing which brought the West Indies back to earth after their World Cup success the year before.
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