EIGHT years on from the late Tony Greig’s fateful remark about England wanting the touring West Indians to grovel, the home humiliation was complete in the summer of 1984.
England were in thrall to the magnificent West Indies throughout the second half of the Seventies and Eighties and the calypso beat was never so rhythmic than in the famous ‘blackwash’ tour of ’84 when the hosts were obliterated 5-0.
It was at Leeds where the tourists, led by the legendary Clive Lloyd, then 39, secured an unassailable 3-0 lead in the five-Test series, and the 30th anniversary of that encounter arrives later this week.
It proved a tormented summer in which England captain David Gower and his troops were ridiculed mercilessly by the press after capitulating to an admittedly powerhouse West Indies side.
Alastair Cook will be desperate to avoid anything remotely resembling those damning headlines this summer with his side starting their series with India on Wednesday.
In 1984, the West Indians played three one-day internationals and five Tests on English soil and won the lot aside from one ODI, inflicting several merciless beatings on the way upon England, whose ineptitude later prompted an infamous song from comedian Rory Bremner called N-n-nineteen Not Out – a parody of an anti-war song from Paul Hardcastle called 19.
England may have been pretty wretched, but the tourists were quite simply a class apart, whether manifested by the disdainful, devastating strokeplay of Viv Richards, the brooding ruthlessness and unerring efficiency of Gordon Greenidge or the blistering class and intimidation of Malcolm Marshall, Michael Holding and Joel Garner.
Then there was the wily off-spin of Roger Harper, the emerging brilliance of Jeff Dijon and the assured contribution of Larry Gomes... and a bit more besides.
Richards, the world’s biggest box-office batsman of the time, did not crank up the pressure like he did in 1976, with Greenidge and Gomes taking the batting honours. But you sense the magisterial Antiguan could have stepped it up if needed.
Headingley patrons who attended the first morning of the third Test instalment on July 12 were greeted with headlines mocking Gower – and there were plenty more by the end when he became the first England captain to lose the first three Tests of a home series since Warwick Armstrong’s Australia claimed the same formidable advantage in 1921.
Statistics will show the game represented the Test debut of Hampshire’s Paul Terry with many writers maybe inclined to suggest that it was the equivalent of being fed to the lions.
The West Indians set the tone in the first Test at Edgbaston when Test debutant Andy Lloyd, on his home ground, was struck on the head by a vicious short-pitched delivery from Marshall, spending the rest of the match and five days more in hospital.
The left-handed opener never played again for England, who in terms of the series, never recovered from that blow either. The tone was set.
The Yorkshire crowd did witness the West Indies blow away the deflated and bedraggled hosts, but had to wait probably longer than they anticipated before an inimitable intervention from the late, great Marshall.
Opening, England mustered 270, with the main contribution coming from the pugnacious Allan Lamb, who followed up his century at Lord’s with another 100 – becoming the first person to score consecutive hundreds against the West Indians since Ken Barrington in 1960.
But the supporting cast was fitful with England dismissed for 270, their demise hastened by Holding, who became only the fourth West Indian to take 200 Test wickets after Lance Gibbs, Garfield Sobers and Andy Roberts on his way to 4-72.
Replying, Lloyd’s side were indebted to the unflappable Gomes, who followed up serene contributions at Edgbaston and Birmingham with a well-crafted century, with unlikely support from Holding and Marshall, who defied the pain barrier and a doctor’s advice to continue playing after sustaining a double fracture of his left thumb on the first morning, giving them a narrow first innings lead.
Marshall then tailored his bowling brilliantly to forego pace for swing to take 7-59 as England crumbled to 159 all out, with opener Graeme Fowler’s half-century the only redeeming feature.
A century opening stand between arguably the most feted first-wicket partnership the game has seen in Greenidge and Desmond Haynes helped see West Indies home and hosed in time for Monday lunch and they continued to dine out on England for the rest of the summer.
The disparity in the teams looked stark at the series outset with events in Birmingham, when the visitors won by an innings and 180 runs in four days, laying down the most emphatic of markers.
Replying after England were dismissed for a lacklustre 191, the tourists put their foot firmly on Gower’s side’s throat. A total of 606 said it all. Five batsmen made half-centuries, the ninth-wicket partnership between Eldine Baptiste (87no) and Holding (69) was 150 and four home bowlers shipped over 100 runs each. Garner and co then did the rest.
A century stand between Fowler (106) and Chris Broad (55) tantalisingly hinted at an England renaissance at Lord’s, which was – somewhat surprisingly – sustained.
That is until the visitors obliterated the hosts’ hopes and will in the process in chasing down 341 to win for the loss of just one wicket – showing an innate ability to turn it on when required as if they were toying with England.
The cool chase to record the fifth highest score to win a Test became an easy stroll, with Greenidge (214no) and Gomes (92no) sharing an unbroken record second-wicket stand for the West Indies against England of 287.
All this despite Greenidge clearly limping when running between the wickets and effectively batting on one leg; all this after England had the temerity to declare in the second innings.
After also dominating the latter stages at Headingley, Lloyd’s men did not encounter much resistance at Old Trafford – victory by an innings and 64 runs – and at The Oval, by 172 runs.
Greenidge struck his second double century of the series in the rout at Manchester, a game which saw England follow-on for the second time in the series and recall a 37-year-old spinner in Pat Pocock after an eight-year absence, such was the level of desperation.
Chasing an impossible target of 500, England perished for 156 and disintegrated for just six runs more when opening at The Oval.
It was a game in which they were powerless to stop the West Indies juggernaut claiming a 5-0 victory, with the prominent ‘blackwash’ banner displayed in Kennington saying it all afterwards.