England Vs West Indies, The Greatest Games
England has a habit of inventing sports and then disseminating them around the world, only for their new practitioners to trounce their creator. The West Indian cricket team is this phenomenon's platonic ideal; a group of ex- colonies where, from the 1960s until the late 1990s, English cricket was put to the sword. The scales have recently tipped back, but battles between these sides have always fascinated for their clash of cultures, let us take a closer look.
1930 | The West Indies claim their first test victory
For new test-playing nations, beating England is the sign they've arrived. It took the West Indies just six attempts to claim their scalp. As English bowlers toiled under the Caribbean sun, the West Indies' batsmen took up arms. In the first innings of the third test, they flayed the tourists to all corners, racking up almost 500 runs. England had to score 617 to win, or survive a day-and- a-half to draw. Learie Constantine took five wickets to ensure they'd do neither, the last falling just 15 minutes from stumps. As the ball cannoned into Bill Voce's pad and the umpire's finger went up, the ground exploded. A new power in world cricket had arrived.
1950 | The West Indies win at Lord’s
If the West Indies' first home victory marked their arrival, their first at the home of cricket began four decades of dominance. Back in 1950, it was a pair of 20-year- old spin bowlers, Sonny Ramadhin and Alf Valentine, who ripped through England's batting. The pair were cheered to victory by their own fans, for the first time on foreign soil. Two years earlier, the Windrush had docked with 500 Jamaicans aboard, the first of the wave of immigrants who would change the fabric of British society forever. When the final wicket fell, the immigrants in the crowd rushed the field. As the police moved in, an MCC official called them back and told them to let these new Britons savour their moment.
1963 | A nail-biting draw
The West Indies side that arrived in England was the first with a black captain and Frank Worrell's team played with a singularly Caribbean style: Garry Sobers struck the ball like he was buttering toast; Rohan Kanhai showcased a hook that finished with him prone on the turf. But both struggled at Lord's where Fred Trueman ran rampant, before the West Indies' paceman returned the favour. The sides finished their first innings almost level. The second were to provide the tensest finish in the ground's history.
1976 | A new hero rises
No one told the West Indies' young number three: in four tests, Vivian Richards demolished a shell-shocked England, his bat a broadsword that carved through one of the best pace attacks in cricket. In four matches, he scored two double-centuries and racked up 829 runs. His highpoint came in the first innings of the fifth and final test. With the series already won, Richards put on a batting masterclass, accruing a career best 291 runs. In the second innings, when it was apparent that Richards had steered his team to an insurmountable lead, Greig dropped to his knees and 'grovelled'. The torch was passed. England wouldn't win a test again the West Indies again for more than a decade.