Clive Hubert Lloyd is a quintessence leader of enormously talented but feuding players from different islands of Caribbean Island, whom he made an unvanquished team for about decade (1975-85). He made pace bowling his main arsenal for pulverising every cricketing country, whose batsmen tried to defend rather than dominate. This was largely after the drubbing his team received from the pace trio of Lilee, Thomson, and Gilmour when the Australian team demolished the mighty Carribeans 5-1 in a Test series in Australia in 1975. The series was billed as the battle between the best teams of the world, with excellent batting, bowling and all-round talent on both sides.
Lloyd’s crowning glory came in first a World Cup final in 1975 when he played an incredible 102 in 88 balls after WI had lost three wickets for fifty. In terms of audacity and assurance, this is possibly the best century in a World Cup match, against the best of fast bowling from Lilee, Thomson, and Gilmour. John Arlott, the legendary commentator wrote that he was in seventh heaven to watch and commentate on it. Denis Compton, the buccaneer English batsman of the 50s considered the innings as good as the one played by Stan McCabe (238) against England at Leeds in 1938. Clive was in the calming company of Rohan Kanhai, whom many considered as good a bat as Gary Sobers.
Clive was not merely a pugnacious bat, but a great fielder in the cover region, with the stoop of a lion and agility of a panther. Kanhai writes in his autobiography Blasting For Runs that if Lloyd is in covers, Covers, Pataudi in mid-off and Colin Bland in extra cover, no batsman can venture to take a run in that region.
But it is his exceptional leadership qualities for which he would be remembered forever. Though the Carribean islands produced charismatic players, they hardly played like a team. It was Frank Worrell who turned them into a successful team and got the best out of the 3Ws, Weeks, Walcott and Worrell and fast bowlers like Hall, Griffith, and Gilchrist. Sobers who succeed was a great All-rounder but a poor captain. He lost a match asking England to chase and May and Cowdrey won the match for England. Ironically Lloyd did the same against India in Port of Spain in 1976 and India successfully chased a seemingly impossible 403. Lloyd unleashed his fast bowlers like Holding and Marshall to put batsmen like Gaekwad, Viswanath, and Vengsarkar out of action. The match was reminiscent of the body line bowling of Larwood and Voce in 1932 against Bradman’s all-conquering team. Dicke Bird writes in his Autobiography that he had to constantly restrain Marshall to refrain from body line bowling and overdoing short-pitched bowling to tail-enders.
Holding writes in his autobiography No Holds Bar that he considered Lloyd to be a better captain to play with than Viv Richards. Viv expected the same level of brilliance from others as his and could be overtly critical of players. Lloyd, on the other hand, was a father figure, who had a becalming influence on the newcomers and equally supportive of the elder ones. Many believe that Lloyd was fortunate enough to have the best fast bowlers at his command, and his leadership really did not matter. History shows that the best of players like Sobers Viv, Lara and Sachin did not make great captains. Lloyd made a great captain as he could get the best out of all his players, without throwing tantrums. The knighthood has come to this tiger a little late in the day. He was a Loping Leopard in his playing days and wears his dignity on his sleeves whenever he is called upon to proffer his views on the game. He has the composure of a sure-footed leopard with the charisma of a doting tall leader.
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