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Clive Lloyd among great batsmen Alan Border, Javed Miandad, Rahul Dravid,Ted Dexter

By Harsh Thakor 

Few batsmen struck a cricket ball with such vengeance or contempt as Clive Lloyd, who was the ultimate embodiment of power. Perhaps no left-hander batted more like Gary Sobers. Hard to think of any left hander in is time, with such wide range of strokes or at best batting in a more cavalier or imperious manner. At his best Clive could take domination to the scale rarely transcended and was a spectacle to witness.. It is hard to do justice to the joy Clive radiated out on the middle.
Clive Lloyd nurtured and knitted a bunch of talented individuals to transform into possibly the best test team ever in the 1980's.Literally led a renaissance or gave a new dimension to Caribbean cricket. Never did West Indian cricket nurture such father figure. 
Clive made a great contribution in elevating the morale or epitomising the spirit of the Afro-American West Indian Community and image of black people in the eyes of the white Community. As a cricketer he gave the ultimate knockout punch to any white racial supremacy, playing role of the mascot of a black man 
His recovery from major back injury in 1973 ranks amongst sport's most enthralling or determined comebacks. Clive left a cricketing empire behind.
I recommend every sports lover to read ‘Living for Cricket’ which is a most illustrative autobiography of Clive Lloyd.

Highlights of Career

In his very debut test Clive gave blemishes of blooming into a lotus scoring 82 and 78, in Mumbai. In his 2nd series at home versus England he scored 118 at Port of Spain, an unbeaten 113 at Barbados.In Australia in 1968-69 he scored 129 at Brisbane ,and 2 fifties at Sydney.
He played no knock of any note till the 1973 home series v Australia where he scored 178 in classical fashion at Georgetown
In England in 1973 Clive played some cavalier innings scoring 132 at the Oval, 94 at Birmingham and 63 at Lords. He illustrated his trait of consistency which came to the fore in the subsequent part of his career. Apart from fine 52 at Trinidad he made no score of notable worth, at home against England in 1974-75.
Few batsmen were more a model or epitome of consistency as batsmen when leading a team as Clive Lloyd.
In India in 1974-75 in his debut series as captain he averaged 79.63 ,scoring match winning 163 at Bangalore and unbeaten 242 at Mumbai .Rarely had any West Indian batsmen as explosively gone on rampage against the Indian spin quartet of Bedi, Prasanna, Chandrashekar and Venkatraghavan. When scoring his double century at Mumbai on got vibrations of his surpassing Gary Sobers’s then record test score of 365.He was simply galleon in full sail.
Lloyd’s 102 scored of a mere 82 balls in the 1975 world cup final, is arguably the best ever innings in a world cup and 5 best ODI knocks ever. In the manner of a combing operation Lloyd mercilessly crushed the Australian attack. with a series scintillating strokes that day taking batting domination to almost surreal proportions . It was worth preserving in a museum, being a manifestation of the supreme skill or art of the game of cricket. D icky Bird described it as the best knock he saw in any form of cricket. Above all it won West Indies the world cup title.
In 1975-76 in Australia Lloyd, topped the batting averages With relentless courage to a degree rarely scaled down under.,Lloyd came to the party at Perth and Melbourne.,to score centuries and overall averaged 46.9.No batsmen performed as well against the Lillee-Thomson duo at their quickest.
.In 1977 he scored 151 out of 421v Pakistan at Barbados in 1977, which completely turned the complexion of the game.
In 1979-80 Lloyd scored a match-winning 121 at Adelaide making a spectacular return to form to enable West Indies to win their first ever official series on West Indies soil., with breathless exhibition of strokeplay. One of his thundering cover drives flashes in m memories till today.
At home against England in 1981 Lloyd was model of consistency, averaging 76.80, topping aggregate and winning man of the series award. He overshadowed the great Viv Richards at his very best.
In 1981-82, his unbeaten 77 at Adelaide in 1982 paved the way for his team to retain the Frank Worrell trophy.
In 1983 he scored 143 at Trinidad in 1983 against India. , retrieving his team from a precarious position.
In 1983-84 in India he scored a a spectacular unbeaten 161 that won game at Calcutta in 1983-84 with a thrilling 151 run ninth wicket stand with Andy Roberts. He topped the batting averages at 82, scoring another hundred in the 2nd test at Delhi.
In 1984-85 In 3 successive series Lloyd averaged over 50-against Australia at home. In England and in Australia. Lloyd’s batting played an important role in West Indies stranglehold or monopoly in achieving a record 11 consecutive test wins. His very presence gave his side the cutting edge,of turning into possibly the best test side ever.
It is notable that when West Indies cricket was at the top of the pedestal in 1983-1985, Lloyd overshadowed even Viv Richards in series at home and away against India and Australia and in England. In 1981 he won man of the series award against England, when Viv was batting at his best.
In 1979 at home against Australia in a WSC supertest his 197 n.o in dynamic manner gave a complete twist and turn to win game against Australia.
When his side had it's back to the wall Clive was cometh the hour, comet the man. He brilliantly combined defence and attack and even when his team was in the woods he would exhibit the most glorious of attacking strokes.
Lloyd was also consistency personified in the ODI triangular tournament in Australia in 3 editions. He averaged over57 in 1981-82.scoring in cavalier manner.
Clive ranked amongst the finest fielders ever at extra cover, pulling of the most stunning catches.Inspite of projecting clumsy image he could simply dart like a leopard on the field.
Lloyd was not at his best in Pakistan in 1980, inconsistent in a home series v Pakistan and in England in 1977, hardly making a big score in Kerry Packer WSC supertests in 1977-78 in Australia and being overshadowed by Alvin Kalicharan against India in 1975-76.
At times he was not tactically at his best like in Melbourne in 1984-85, when he failed to make an early declaration, to force a win.

Statistics

Lloyd scored 7515 run sat an average of 46.67 in 108 test matches and 175 innings , with 19 centuries. In test matches won he averaged 58.4, scoring 3337 runs with 10 centuries. He also took 90 catches.
He averaged almost the same oversaw as at home. As a skipper he led West Indies to win41 out of 57 tests he led his team, which is the best ever in terms of winning percentage.
In ODI's he averaged 39.54, scoring 197 runs, 1 century and 11 fifties, which was remarkable in his era. In first class cricket he amassed 31232 runs at an average of 49.26, with 79 centuries.

Evaluation

. Few batsmen were more a model or epitome of consistency as batsmen when leading a team as Clive Lloyd. In his day very few batsmen in the middle as effectively did what the doctor ordered. When his side had it's back to the wall Clive was cometh the hour, comet the man. Even when his team was in dire straits he would curb his glorious attacking strokes. Arguably playing for a weaker side, Lloyd would have performed even better. , having to much more often bear a crisis.
Lloyd was one of the best ever match-winners as a batsmen with 10 of his 19 centuries in winning games at an average of above 58 .He was also one of the finest in a crisis scoring 7 hundreds at average of 45,i n games drawn. In crucial junctures like in India in 1974-75 Australia in 1979-80 and 1981-82 and in India in 1982-83, it was his batting that delivered the knockout punch to the opponents. Even if he played for great side, it was often Clive’s batting that laid the fulcrum to his side, or gave it the enquired impetus.
He led his team to 36 win in 74 tests and 2 World cup victories, in 1975 and 1979.Without his leadership I doubt West Indies would have won a world cup.
I will never forget how he resurrected West Indies cricket after the 5-1 humiliation down under in 1975-76, to reach the heights of glory when winning their first series down under in 1979-80 or earlier the Gary Sobers World series supertest trophy in Australia.Clive could tap the potential at an optimum iut of every team member, particularly Viv Richards and the 4 pronged pace attack.
Clive Lloyd in 1979-81 and then 1983-85 knit West Indies into arguably the best ever test teams in the history of the game, which resembled an invincible army. I doubt without Clive Lloyd West Indies could have even reached near this stature as none else was capable of garnering resources or nurturing or propelling the players in the manner of Clive. He played an instrumental role in discovering and shaping likes of Andy Roberts, Viv Richards, Michael Holding and Joel Garner, or later Malcolm Marshall.
Most commendable the manner Lloyd marshalled his resources on the tour of India in 1983-84 to lead his side to a 3-0 win and avenge the 1983 world cup defeat at the hands of India. Lloyd’s very presence in the middle made the difference.
In 1984-85 he led West Indies to a then record of 11 test wins in a row.
It is ironic that Lloyd ended on the losing side in his final world cup final in 1983, Final test match in 1985 and final ODI in 1985.Still he philosophically spoke “In cricket you lose some, win some.”
Lloyd left behind perhaps the most powerful cricketing empire ever for Viv Richards to inherit in 1985, winch he successfully defended till his retirement.
His ranking may be debatable in the game’s history but without hesitation as a batsman and cricketer I would rate Clive Loyd as ‘truly great.’
Lloyd has generally been ranked around 65th to 70th in selection amongst 100 best cricketers of all time by experts like late John Woodcock, late Christopher Martin Jenkins and Geoff Armstrong.
Personally I feel considering his impact overall Lloyd ranks amongst the 50 best cricketers.
I rate Clive in the category of great batsmen like Alan Border, Javed Miandad, Rahul Dravid, Ted Dexter and Frank Worrell as a batsmen and a whisker below likes of Viv Richards or Sachin Tendulkar.
In the mid or early 1980's to me Clive was possibly behind only Viv, Greg Chappell and Gavaskar. Overall I would place Clive Lloyd amongst the top 40 batsmen of all time.
Amongst left handed batsmen I would place Clive only behind Lara, Sobers, Sangakkara Alan Border and Neil Harvey.
Facing pure pace Lloyd was in the Gary Sobers class. Arguably his performances against top pace were amongst the 4 best ever by any left handed batsmen, behind only Gary Sobers, Alan Border and David Gower .Notable that no batsmen averaged as much as Clive against Lillee-Thomson pair at their fastest.
In the mid- 1980’s I would choose Clive to lead the world cricket XI. In test and ODI cricket, batting at no 5 position.
Amongst great West Indies batsmen I rank Clive at 8th place only behind Viv Richards. Lara, Sobers,Headley Weekes ,Worrell and Kanhai.
In my view Lloyd has a place amongst the 8 best captains ever, joining Don Bradman, Ian Chappell, Frank Worrell, Imran Khan, Arjuna Ranatunga,Alan Border and Mark Taylor.
I admire his sportsmanship in congratulating the Indian team after they upset the applecart o the giant West Indies team in the 1983 world cup final.
What may go against Lloyd was his inability to inculcate discipline in his team, with incidents like the Kingston bumper barrage creating equivalent of a carnage or Manchester test of 1976, fresh in memory .Lloyd in my view over deployed use of the bouncer or intimidatory bowling from his paceman,in a ruthless manner. It killed the spirit of the game. Till this day he offered no apology for the intimidatory bowling at Kingston. He lacked the grace or gentlemanly spirit of Frank Worrell or Gary Sobers, failing to continue their tradition in this respect. To later captain Viv Richards he passed on his legacy of ruthlessness in terms of intimidatory pace bowling, who used it with no discretion. To me it amounted to killing cricket, as Alan Border stated in 1988-89 series at home against West Indies.
Lloyd patronised commercialism and brand endorsements, giving full support to the World Series cricket project of Kerry Packer. He never came out against the game being converted into a multi billion dollar business.
On the 1980 tour of New Zealand he took no action against indiscipline of his players protesting umpiring decisions. Lloyd also never was critical of bad behaviour of West Indian crowds.
Sadly today West Indies cricket is in a state of disarray with giants like Lloyd unable to resurrect it as coaches or managers.

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