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Cricket World Cup 1979: The Domination of the West Indies Continues

The 1979 Cricket World Cup (formally known as the Prudential Cup ’79) was the tournament’s second edition. It was held in England from June 9 to June 23, 1979, and was organised by the International Cricket Conference.

The Prudential Assurance Company once again sponsored the event, which featured eight teams. The main difference was that Canada and Sri Lanka both advanced to the tournament qualifying round. The format remained the same, with two teams qualifying from each group and the final held at Lord’s once again.

The Build-up


The tournament’s eight teams were divided into two groups of four, with each team playing the others in their group in a single round-robin style. The top two teams from each group proceeded to the semi-finals, and then the semifinal winners faced each other in the summit clash.


The first semi-final was held at Old Trafford Cricket Ground in Manchester, and the second at the Oval in London. The final was played at Lord’s Cricket Ground in London. The remaining venues were Edgbaston Cricket Ground in Birmingham, Trent Bridge in Nottingham, and Headingley Cricket Ground in Leeds.


The event in 1979 witnessed the first World Cup qualifiers. The 1979 ICC Trophy was staged at several sites in the English Midlands in late May and early June, with the two finalists qualifying for the World Cup, where they joined the six Test teams that qualified automatically. Sri Lanka and Canada qualified after defeating Denmark and Bermuda in the semi-finals, respectively.

Teams that participated in the 1979 World Cup:

  1. England
  2. India
  3. Australia
  4. Pakistan  
  5. West Indies
  6. New Zealand
  7. Sri Lanka
  8. Canada


The defending champions, the West Indies, were heavy favourites to win the trophy, and Clive Lloyd’s men lived up to the hype, winning the trophy for the second time.

1979 World Cup Group Matches

The first round of matches began on June 9th, with four matches contested.

Match 1: June 9, 1979 | India vs West Indies

The West Indies elected to field first and bowled out India for a paltry 190 runs thanks to Michael Holding’s 4-wicket haul. Then Gordon Greenidge’s unbeaten 106 powered the Windies to a 9-wicket victory.

Match 2: June 9, 1979 | New Zealand vs Sri Lanka

The story was the same in this match as well, with the Kiwis restricting Sri Lanka to 189 runs. Later, Glenn Turner and Geoff Howarth’s fifties ensured an easy 9-wicket win over Sri Lanka.

Match 3: June 9, 1979 | England vs Australia

England faced Australia at Lord’s and, after electing to field first, troubled the Australians with excellent fielding and bowling. The Australians were dismissed for 159, including four run-outs. Mike Brearley and Graham Gooch dominated the run-chase, leading England to a six-wicket triumph.

Match 4: June 9, 1979 | Pakistan vs Canada

Pakistan’s bowling attack overpowered the Canadian batting line-up and restricted them to 139/9 in 60 overs. Pakistan then chased down the target in 40.1 overs with 8 wickets in hand.

Match 5: June 13, 1979 | Sri Lanka vs West Indies

The 5th match between Sri Lanka and the West Indies was abandoned without a ball being bowled, and both teams shared the points.

Match 6: June 13, 1979 | India vs New Zealand

India had yet another disastrous performance in this edition as they were bundled out for 182 runs, with Sunil Gavaskar fighting alone (55). Bruce Edgar’s 84 helped the Kiwis chase the target in 57 overs.

Match 7, June13, 1979 | Australia vs Pakistan

Australia, after winning the toss, elected to field first; however, the decision didn’t go well for them, as Pakistan posted 286 runs on board. While chasing the target, the Aussies faltered on 197 runs and lost the match by 89 runs.

Match 8, June 13, 1979 | England vs Canada

England’s Bob Willis and Chris Old turned out to be too powerful for Canada, as they were bowled out for 45, one of the lowest team totals in World Cup history. Moreover, this is also one of the lowest team scores in ODI history. Later, England chased the target in 13.5 overs with 8 wickets to spare.

Match 9: June 16, 1979 | India vs Sri Lanka

Batting first, Sri Lanka posted a challenging total of 238 runs for India. In response, India couldn’t stand in front of the neighbours, as they lost wickets at regular intervals and lost the match by 47 runs.

Match 10: June 16, 1979 | New Zealand vs West Indies

In an even contest between bat and ball, the West Indies emerged victorious by 32 runs. After electing to field first, New Zealand restricted the Windies to 244/4, but they fell short by 32 runs while chasing the target.

Match 11: June 16, 1979 | Australia vs Canada

Batting first, Canada started on a good note, but they couldn’t sustain the momentum and were skittled out on 105 runs thanks to Alan Hurst’s 5-wicket haul. Then Australia chased down the target of 106 runs with 204 balls to spare.

Match 12: June 16, 1979 | England vs Pakistan

After winning the toss, Pakistan decided to bowl first and gave the England batters a hard time. They managed to hold the hosts at 165/9 in 60 overs. However, Pakistan couldn’t chase down the target and lost the game by just 14 runs.

Knockout Stage

The knockout stage of the Cricket World Cup featured two single-elimination rounds that concluded in a final game. In the event that the game had to be rescheduled due to rain, there were two backup days available.

1st Semi-Final: June 20, 1979 | England vs New Zealand at Manchester 

New Zealand won the toss and chose to field. England started poorly, falling to 38/2 until Mike Brearley (53 off 115) and Graham Gooch (71 off 84) rescued the innings. Derek Randall (42 from 50 balls) batted brilliantly in the second half of England’s innings, helping the team recover from 98/4 to 221/8 wickets (60 overs).

In response, John Wright (69 from 137) attacked well at first. The loss of wickets, however, slowed New Zealand, and despite numerous late flourishes in the batting order, New Zealand began to fall behind. When New Zealand failed to score the remaining 14 runs from the match’s final over, England advanced to the final by winning a nail-biting semi-final encounter.

2nd Semi-Final: June 20, 1979 | Pakistan vs the West Indies at The Oval 

Gordon Greenidge (73 from 107) and Desmond Haynes (65 from 115) put on a 132-run first-wicket stand in a batting-dominated encounter. The West Indies put in 293/6 wickets (60 overs) against Pakistan, with Vivian Richards and Clive Lloyd contributing significantly.

In response, Majid Khan (81 off 124) and Zaheer Abbas (93 off 122) had a second-wicket partnership of 166 runs in 36 overs. However, none of Pakistan’s other batsmen blossomed, with Javed Miandad dismissed for a first-ball duck. In the high-scoring semi-final, Pakistan was bowled out for 250 in 56.2 overs, propelling the West Indies to the final.

Final: June 23, 1979 | England vs West Indies at Lord’s

England won the toss and elected to bat first. The West Indies started poorly, falling to 99/4 after losing Greenidge, Haynes, Kallicharan, and skipper Clive Lloyd. Vivian Richards (138 from 157) and Collis King (86 from 66) held the innings together. With a strike rate of 130.3, King smashed through the English bowling.

The West Indies were already at 238 when King and Richard’s 139-run partnership ended. Vivian Richards and the tail then guided the West Indies to a commanding total of 286/9 wickets (60 overs).

The English batsmen had a solid start. However, the openers, Mike Brearley (64 off 130) and Geoff Boycott (57 off 105), batted slowly. They put on a steady opening partnership of 129 runs in 38 overs as if it were a five-day Test match.

The necessary run rate had become too high by the time both batters were out. Graham Gooch hit some big shots to score 32 and lead England to 183/2. However, the loss of Derek Randall prompted a batting collapse in which England lost their final eight wickets for 11 runs, resulting in an all-out total of 194 in 51 overs.

And the West Indies were crowned champions for the second straight time in the 1979 World Cup.

Special Moments in the World Cup of 1979

England gets the sword from Viv Richards

The West Indies were heavy favourites in the 1979 final versus England at Lords. They had won the World Cup in 1975 and had only lost one match since then.

England’s bowlers reduced the Windies to 102-4, and England smelled blood. But Viv Richards’ undefeated 138 took the game away from England, and the Windies won comfortably by 92 runs.

Richards’ innings included 11 boundaries and three sixes, as well as a miracle shot that he subsequently claimed he developed during the match. When Richards was batting on 132, he anticipated a full ball, went to the off-side, and performed a brilliant flick to send it all the way, surprising the cricket world.

Richards subsequently claimed of the occasion, “That shot is my invention.” Richards’ century was also the first in a World Cup final by a batsman.

Also Read | Top 6: Highest Individual Scores in ODI World Cup Finals

Key Performers

Gordon Greenidge, Vivian Richards, Michael Holding, Colin Croft, and Joel Garner all played important roles in the Windies’ successful title defence. Greenidge finished the campaign as the competition’s leading run scorer, scoring 253 runs in four matches. Following him, Richards racked up 217 runs in four games to finish the tournament as the competition’s second-highest run-getter.

Holding, Croft, and Garner performed admirably in the bowling department, each taking eight wickets during the competition. Garner raced through England’s batting order and led his team to a massive win after Richards and Collis King’s superb performances in the final. During the game, Joel received a fifer.

In terms of outstanding players from other teams, Graham Gooch became England’s top scorer with 210 runs in five matches at a strike rate of 63.82. Mike Hendrick took 10 wickets in five games with the ball, finishing as the competition’s leading wicket-taker.

Glenn Turner built on his outstanding World Cup performance from 1975. The veteran hit 176 runs in four games to become New Zealand’s most successful batter in the competition.

Debut of Canada in the World Cup

The format of the 1979 World Cup remained intact, with all six Test-playing teams and Sri Lanka taking part, although last year’s debutant East Africa was replaced by newcomers Canada. East Africa did not qualify for the second World Cup; hence, there was no African representative.

The effect on cricket

The success of the Windies in the competition helped promote cricket in the Caribbean countries. After the West Indies won their first World Cup in 1975, One-Day International cricket became popular in Caribbean countries. With the 1979 victory, cricket began to gain popularity in the region. 

Cricket gained popularity in Asian countries such as Pakistan and Sri Lanka following the 1979 World Cup. Pakistan defeated Canada and Australia to reach the semi-finals for the first time under the captaincy of Asif Iqbal. Sri Lanka’s victory over India also helped cricket gain some traction in the island nation.

Final Thoughts

The 1979 Cricket World Cup was a memorable and successful competition. It was a competition that saw the world’s greatest players compete at the highest level, as well as the debut of some innovations that are now standard in ODI cricket.

The West Indies won the competition after defeating England in the final at Lord’s. The West Indies were the dominant side in cricket at the time, and their triumph confirmed their title as world champions.

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