Philip Barker

The match schedule for the International Cricket Council (ICC) Men's World Cup in India has revealed that holders England are to open proceedings against New Zealand on October 5 in a re-match of the dramatic 2019 final.

India, twice winners of the competition, are set to meet five-time champions Australia in Chennai on October 8.

Whether they will be joined in the tournament by the West Indies, winners of the first two tournaments, is now in serious doubt after the Caribbean team were beaten by the Netherlands at the ICC Cricket World Cup Qualifier in Harare.

The result has thrown their prospects of a passage to India into severe doubt.

West Indies scored a towering 374 for 6, but only a sparse crowd witnessed an astonishing recovery by the Dutch who amassed 204 runs off the last 125 balls to tie the match.

In the super over which followed, Logan Van Beek scored a record 30 runs for the Netherlands.

He struck three sixes and hit every other ball to the boundary to make sure of victory.

Such sustained scoring rates were almost unthinkable when the West Indies played their first one day international 50 years ago. 

Even so, their squad included Garfield St Aubrun Sobers, who in 1968 became the first man to hit every ball in a single over for six in first class cricket.

Sir Garfield Sobers only played a single one day international match and missed the inaugural World Cup through injury ©Getty Images
Sir Garfield Sobers only played a single one day international match and missed the inaugural World Cup through injury ©Getty Images

Sobers, regarded as one of the greatest cricketers in history, seemed the perfect fit for the one day international game but at 37 he was coming to the end of a long career.

Two limited overs internationals between England and the West indies for the Prudential Trophy were scheduled in 1973.

Sobers played in the first of them but he was dismissed for a duck as West Indies lost to England by one wicket with three balls to spare.

It proved his only appearance in the format.

The West Indies gave a hint of the riches to follow in one day cricket for them in the second match of the series.

A century by opener Roy Fredericks ensured a comfortable victory.

In the next two years, one day internationals were still few and far between but cricket's authorities had given approval for a men’s World Cup to be held in England in 1975.

They did however fight shy of the World Cup label and advertised it as "International Championship Cricket".

The official guide did not describe the 1975 competition as a World Cup ©ITG
The official guide did not describe the 1975 competition as a World Cup ©ITG

The sun shone as the eight competing teams gathered at Buckingham Palace on the eve of the tournament.

The West Indies were captained by Clive Lloyd, who had won the Gillette Cup 60 over a side competition three times in a row with Lancashire. 

His entire squad had gained experience in one day cricket, mostly through playing county cricket. 

Sobers had originally been named in the squad, but withdrew after a groin injury suffered playing Lancashire League cricket for Littleborough. 

The West Indies had been drawn in what would now be known as the "group of death", for it also included Pakistan and Australia with only two semi-final spots on offer.

The first three men's cricket World Cups were all sponsored by Prudential Assurance ©Prudential Assurance
The first three men's cricket World Cups were all sponsored by Prudential Assurance ©Prudential Assurance

West Indies comfortably defeated the Sri Lankans in their opening match but appeared to be facing defeat against Pakistan in the second match in Birmingham.

Set a victory target of 267, they were 203 for 9 in the 46th over.

Two unlikely heroes, wicket keeper Deryck Murray and fast bowler Andy Roberts, added 64 runs to see them home with only two balls to spare.

"Pakistan will never stop asking themselves how they lost," the official review of the tournament said.

In their final group match, West Indies beat Australia by seven wickets after Alvin Kallicharran hit Dennis Lillee for 31 runs in ten consecutive balls.

Three days later, West Indies beat New Zealand on the same ground in the semi-final.

The final at Lord's was to be played on the longest day of the year and it was just as well.

Once again, the opponents were Australia.

West Indies batted first but were 50 for 3 when Lloyd and Rohan Kanhai, his predecessor as West Indies captain, came together.

Kanhai played a supporting role as Lloyd struck the fierce Australian bowling to all parts of the ground.

One shot was described by the legendary cricket commentator John Arlott as "the stroke of a man knocking a thistle top off with a walking stick".

Lloyd hit twelve fours and two sixes and brought up his century with a flashing drive in 82 balls.

He was eventually dismissed for 102 and it is perhaps easy to forget that West Indies lost quick wickets soon afterwards and were by no means assured of an unassailable total.

However, Lloyd's efforts seemed to galvanise all rounders Bernard Julien, Keith Boyce and wicket keeper Deryck Murray who added valuable runs as West Indies totalled 291 for 8.

Australia began the run chase in positive fashion and might even have been successful had it not been for five run outs.

VIv Richards was responsible for three of them, dismissing opener Alan Turner and both Greg and Ian Chappell.

The match was still going long into the evening when fast bowler Max Walker was run out to leave Australia 233 for 9.

The last pair, Dennis Lillee and Jeff Thomson, were better known for their fast bowling, but they added 41 runs with a gritty and determined performance.

At one point, there was chaos when Thomson was caught off a no ball and the crowd, thinking the match had ended, raced onto the field.

Three balls later Thomson was run out and West Indies had won by 17 runs.

It was 8:43pm and a few minutes later, Prince Philip presented the silver trophy to Lloyd.

"It was the moment we realised we had arrived," Lloyd said later.

By the time West Indies returned for their first defence in 1979, so much had changed in world cricket.

There had been a breakaway competition called World Series Cricket promoted by Australian television magnate Kerry Packer.

This had attracted many world stars including the West Indians to its ranks.

A peace agreement had been concluded which meant that these stars were cleared to play in the second World Cup.

Lloyd now had a battery of four fast bowlers at his disposal.

Roberts, a member of the victorious 1975 team, had been joined by Michael Holding, nicknamed "Whispering Death", Colin Croft and Joel Garner who stood 2.03 metres tall.

Garner’s arm was often above the sight screen at the point of delivery, which added to the batsman’s difficulties.

The 1975 tournament had not lost a single minute to bad light or rain but it was a different story in 1979.

West Indies began with a nine-wicket victory over India but their second match against Sri Lanka was washed out, the first time this had happened in the World Cup.

They beat New Zealand by 32 runs to qualify for the semi-finals.

West Indian balcony celebrations were a feature of the first two Prudential Cup finals in 1975 and 1979 ©Getty Images
West Indian balcony celebrations were a feature of the first two Prudential Cup finals in 1975 and 1979 ©Getty Images

In the semi-final against Pakistan, West Indies totalled an impressive 293 for 6.

Majid Khan and Zaheer Abbas, two star Pakistani batsmen, put on 166 for the second wicket but Richards took three vital wickets and had Imran Khan caught and bowled.

Pakistan were all out for 250.

In the final, West Indies seemed in trouble against England until Richards and Collis King came together at 99 for 4.

Richards ended unbeaten on 138 from 157 balls with 11 fours and three sixes, the last of these off the last ball of the innings.

Collis King’s supporting 86 was a vital element in the total of 286.

England replied with an opening stand of 129 from Mike Brearley and Geoffrey Boycott was only ended in the 39th over.

As they tried to force the pace, Garner took five wickets in the space of two overs as England were beaten by 92 runs.

Lloyd lifted the trophy a second time but it was a moment which would not come again.

In 1983, West Indies reached a third successive final but lost on a day which proved a red letter day for Indian sport.

The best West Indies performance since then came in 1996 when they reached the semi final.

Now, they know that even victory in all three super six matches starting tomorrow against Scotland may not be enough.

"Sometimes you’ve got to reach rock bottom go come back," West Indies coach Darren Sammy said.

"I understand the challenges ahead, and I also understand that things won’t change overnight, it’s a true reflection of where our cricket is at the moment and we have a lot of work to do."

Next week, West Indies play Oman before the final match against Sri Lanka.

By a twist of fate, the Sri Lankans were the West Indies' very first World Cup opponents in 1975.