West Indies in Australia 1975-76 - Tour Summary

West Indies in Australia, 1975-76

Arranged as a substitute for a scheduled tour  by  South  Africa,
there was the expectation of a rich cricketing feast for the West
Indies' fifth visit to Australia. The ingredients  were  perfect.
Each  team  contained  a  number  of  aggressive  batsmen of high
repute, each possessed bowlers of rare speed and  hostility,  and
the two most successful off-spinners in contemporary internation-
al cricket were on opposite sides. Above all, they appeared even-
ly matched.

The aperitif, served up in England the  previous  summer  in  the
form  of the first World Cup competition, provided a mouth water-
ing prelude, being the most entertaining, and competitive cricket
witnessed for years.

The West Indies' captain, Clive Lloyd, had enjoyed  an  immensely
successful  initiation  to  the job. His basically young team had
triumphed 3-2 in India in 1974-75, and had been the  first  World
Cup  champions,  beating Australia on the two occasions the coun-
tries met, including the final at Lord's.

Lloyd himself wrote before the start of the series: "There is ba-
sically  not  much between the two teams where talents and skills
are concerned, and you don't need a crystal ball to  predict  the
outcome could hang on a slender thread."

It was a widely shared opinion. Yet, after a wonderful start, the
contest  deteriorated  in  to  a one-sided anti-climax. Australia
comfortably winning the last four of the six Tests for a 5-1  ad-

Disappointment was no stranger to the West Indian teams  in  Aus-
tralia.  All  those  before  - even, to a certain extent, that of
1960-61 - had endured it but not quite so sharply as Lloyd's. The
team  lost the first Test by eight wickets, but the margin of de-
feat did not accurately indicate the closeness of  the  struggle.
The  Windies then won the second Test by an innings and 87 with a
magnificient performance in which all that is best about West In-
dian  cricket  was  shown  to advantage. From that point onwards,
little went right for them, and their spirit was irreparably bro-
ken by a combination of Australia's fast bowling, injury, lack of
form of leading players, faulty catching and questionable  umpir-

They were factors familiar to West Indian teams in Australia and,
as  had  been the case before, the situation degenerated from bad
to worse. In the end, the West Indian players, dejected by  their
own  performances,  were  merely  going through the motions, none
more so than the captain, who found it  impossible  to  hide  his
bitter disappointment.

The Australians, never ones to show mercy in such  circumstances,
had appeared psychologically shaken after their massive defeat at
Perth in the second Test. The West Indian  fast  bowling,  spear-
headed  by  Andy  Roberts and the 21 year-old Holding, devastated
theri batting, and the  West  Indian  strokemakers  were  equally
severe  on  the  Australian  bowling. At this stage, the visitors
held a distinct advantage.

The West Indies appeared to become complacent  after  their  suc-
cess,  a grave misjudgement. Immediately following their victory,
they allowed  themselves  to  slip  into  an  embarassing  tangle
against  a  sub-standard  South Australian team purely and simply
because of a lethargic attitude to the match. The Australians saw
this as a sign of weakness, which they themselves would never al-
low, regrouped their forces and put the debacle of  Perth  behind
them. The contest was not the same thereafter.

Australia's dominance from that match was built around  the  con-
sistency  of their batting, with their new captain, Greg Chappell
outstanding, and the havoc created by the  pace  of  Thomson  and
Lillee,  but  more  especially the former, admirably supported by
the left arm swing of the talented and youthful Gilmour.  Between
them,  they  claimed 76 of the 110 West Indian wickets that fell,
and subjected the batsmen to the constant threat of physical  in-
jury  which  was never far from their minds. Almost all the major
West Indian batsmen were hit about the face and body at one  time
or  another,  Kallicharan had his nose broken by Lillee at Perth,
Julien's thumb was cracked when he was used  as  an  opener,  and
Lloyd  and  Holding  were forced to retire hurt at Sydney, as was
Ali at Brisbane.

The West Indians generally chose to counter attack  against  such
bowling, but the result was that 14 wickets were lost to the hook
shot, while numerous others went to catches behind the wicket and
in  the slips area.  Marsh claiming a record-equalling 26 catches
as wicketkeeper.

Roberts and Holding suggested that they were capable of  replying
in  kind  by  their display in the second Test by a pulled muscle
sustained by the young Jamaican then separated them for the  cru-
cial third Test, and, subsequently, Roberts' flame dwindled under
the strain of overwork. He was unable to play at all in the final
Test,  by  which  time  Holding,  again, and Boyce were also well
below the fitness required for five-day cricket.

No less of a handicap to Lloyd was the failure of the  recognised
opening  pair. Greenidge completely lost form and confidence, and
Fredericks found himself carrying Julien, Kallicharan, and final-
ly,  Vivian  Richards  to the middle as partners. Fredericks him-
self, usually so reliable, had one unforgettable innings  of  169
at  Perth but achieved little else of note and it was no surprise
that there was only one first-wicket partnership in excess of 50.

 Contributed by Venky (sridh002@*.tc.umn.edu)