Greenidge scores 214* for West Indies

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West Indies fans termed it the 'blackwash' summer.

The year that Clive Lloyd’s West Indies confirmed their status as one of the greatest teams ever to have played the game.. Looking back, it seems hard to credit that England ever thought they might have a chance. True, they had managed to win one of the three One-Day Internationals played before the Test series, but that had been followed by a crushing defeat in the first Test at Edgbaston by an innings and 185 runs. They lost debutant opener Andy Lloyd to a terrible head injury when he ducked into a ball from Malcolm Marshall and had to replace him with another debutant for Lord’s - Chris Broad. Reasons for optimism were few and far between.

It was Broad and his opening partner Graeme Fowler who got England off to a bright start, posting 101 before West Indies made their first breakthrough. Fowler went on to his century on day two and in the circumstances, England were quite pleased with their final total of 286. They were happier still when Ian Botham rolled back the years and claimed 8 for 103 to help England secure a first innings lead of 41. This marked quite a turnaround, as at Edgbaston they had conceded a first innings lead of 415. Botham followed it up with his second fifty of the series, putting on 128 with Allan Lamb to dig England out of something of a hole at 88 for 4. Botham’s 81 came off 111 balls, which may not sound like violent assault by modern standards but at that time, against that attack, it was quite some rate of progress. Lamb went on to 110, an innings by contrast of guts and endurance lasting six hours. It was largely thanks to him that England reached the close of day four on 287 for 7, 328 ahead. As the evening session wore on the clamour had been growing for England captain David Gower to declare and give his side time to bowl the West Indies out.

In one sense perhaps Gower’s critics were right. On the fifth morning, England stuttered along losing two wickets and adding merely 13 runs before he called a halt. The charge against Gower was that he had left too little time left to force the win. Maybe he had seen what was coming. West Indies needed to make 342 in 78 overs, and the first sign that England were in trouble came early in the innings when opener Gordon Greenidge started limping. Greenidge was always more dangerous when he was limping. The injury might account for him turning down a quick single which resulted in Desmond Haynes being run out for 17. It would be England’s only breakthrough. After that it was one way traffic.

Greenidge cut, pulled and drove with furious power. England’s bowlers couldn’t get their lengths right, perhaps Gower kept his attacking fielders in too long, but sometimes a batsman is just unstoppable. He reached his hundred in 135 deliveries, 150 in 189. Larry Gomes stayed with him, making a chanceless 92 not out. But it was Greenidge’s innings that lived in the memory: 29 fours, and two sixes hooked off Botham and Neil Foster. Long before the end, England had given up the ghost. There were still 12 overs to go and Botham had taken to bowling off-breaks when the end came. Greenidge had played one of the finest innings ever seen at Lord’s, and West Indies were on the way to ten consecutive Test Match wins against England.