Having won the inaugural men’s World Cup tournament in 1975, West Indies went into the second tournament as strong favourites.
In the past four years they had established themselves conclusively as the world’s pre-eminent cricket team. Before the days of one-day specialists, their overwhelming Test Match success carried over to the shorter game where their battery of fast bowlers and aggressive batsmen were just as successful. They won five out of the seven One-Day Internationals they played between the first two World Cups.
West Indies made comfortable progress to the final, winning every game except a rained-off encounter with Sri Lanka. At Lord’s they met England, who had come through the group stage with a 100% record before squeezing home by nine runs in a semi-final against New Zealand. And the hosts got off to a good start again, reducing West Indies to 55 for 3 after putting them in to bat. But when Collis King joined Vivian Richards for the fifth wicket, everything changed. King blasted 86 off 66 balls as the pair put on 139. England had only picked four front line bowlers, trying to make up the remaining 12 overs from part-timers Boycott, Gooch and Larkins. They conceded 86 runs. After King fell to a catch off Phil Edmonds Richards kept going. Astonishingly, none of the four fast bowlers added a run, but the scoreboard still recorded 34 runs added while Richards was with them at the crease. At the end of 60 overs they had reached 286 for 9, Joel Garner not out 0, Richards still unbeaten on 138. He and King had each struck three sixes; a figure yet to be bettered in an ODI at Lord’s.
England began their run chase with Geoff Boycott and Mike Brearley. Boycott took 17 overs to reach double figures and when skipper Clive Lloyd used the off-spin of Richards and the medium pace of King to fill up his spare overs the pair were casually milked for singles, conceding only 48 off 13 overs. Along the way the normally brilliant Lloyd contrived to drop a straightforward chance from Boycott. He later denied any suggestion that he had done so deliberately but admitted “it wouldn’t have been a bad tactic”. By the time Michael Holding finally broke England’s opening partnership, Brearley and Boycott had added 129 runs, but used up almost 39 overs in the process. The remaining batsmen tried desperately to make up for lost time, but it was too late. Joel Garner and Colin Croft wrapped up the innings in a flurry of wickets, eight going down for just 11 runs with nine overs to spare as West Indies won by 92 runs.