When Clive Lloyd scored a double ton at Wankhede, 40 years ago
On Wankhede Stadium's 40th birthday, then West Indies captain, current chief selector Clive Lloyd looks back on the very first Test match that was held there where he posted a career-best 242*
When we came to Bombay for the decisive final Test, there were rumours that the pitch was under-prepared and would not last the distance of six days. The stadium was new and not many matches had been played on the ground, so no one was certain what conditions would be like.
It was a very tense West Indies captain who took the field to toss before the start because I felt that a correct call would decide the match. When I did call and the coin dropped in my favour, I think the sigh of relief could be heard by the 60,000 Indians in the ground. As it turned out, I need not have bothered; the pitch played beautifully all the way through and was one of the best I have played on.
When we ended the first day 309 for three, I knew that we were in command. I was already past 50 when the second day started and I continued on and on, feeling in very good form and hitting the ball pretty well.
The Wankhede Stadium during the 1974-75 season. Pic courtesy: cricket quarterly magazine
I went past 200 and really felt that I could have got to 300 that day had not a crowd riot halted play. What happened was that a lone spectator, a young lad in his teens, jumped the fence and came on to shake my hand after I got 200.
Since it was not a mass invasion, I thought nothing of it but the police had other ideas. In front of everyone they used their long bamboo sticks, the lathis, with a vengeance on the poor boy and incensed the crowd to such an extent that, by tea, there was a full-scale riot which left the place looking like a battlefield. We remained in our dressing room and were never in any danger.
However, an hour and a half's play had been lost and, Since we were so well placed, it was only obvious that we would ask for the time to be made up on subsequent days. The Indian Board refused that request and, as it turned out, we did not require the time.
I finally declared after Deryck Murray and myself had added 250 for the sixth wicket and we set about trying to win by an innings. However, the Indians made us fight harder than we expected.
January 24, 1975: An enthusiastic fan (identified in the media then as Yogesh Maganlal Bharot) congratulates Clive Lloyd on his double ton as the umpire, Karsan Ghavri and non-striker Deryck Murray look on. Pics courtesy: Living for Cricket by Clive Lloyd
The left-handed Solkar got a century; Viswanath and Gavaskar, now recovered (from his finger injury which kept him out for three Tests) got among the runs; and the follow-on was saved by a few runs. However, a fine spell by that old workhorse Vanburn Holder in the second innings, when he took six wickets, clinched it for us.
What sticks out in my memory about that Test even more than our victory and my own score was the finale. We had got back into our dressing room when someone came in and said that crowd was chanting for us to make a farewell appearance in the middle. It was an emotional and unforgettable moment.
Reproduced from Living for Cricket: Clive Lloyd with Tony Cozier, published by Stanley Paul. Used with permission from Clive Lloyd
Karsan Ghavri, who made his Test debut earlier in the series, recalled how the spectator who jumped over the fence to congratulate Clive Lloyd on his double century was the receiving end of some harsh treatment from the Mumbai cops. "I saw it from close quarters.
All that lad wanted to do was shake Clive's hand. His appreciation for a great knock was genuine. There was no need to beat him up so badly. This incident caused the riot," Ghavri told sunday mid-day yesterday.
The Mumbai-based former India all-rounder felt that some credit should be given to Ramji Dharod, a club cricketer, who convinced the rioters to stay calm.
"Dharod deserves credit for going to the centre and speaking to the police force and the irate spectators. Such people should be hailed in Mumbai cricket. It was a brave gesture," said Ghavri.