Finally a game for England where the result has material, rather than just emotional, consequences. They must beat West Indies to have a chance of progressing to the quarter-finals.
England have won 37 and lost 41 of their one-dayers against West Indies; won 11 and lost six on neutral territory and edge it 12-10 in since the start of 2000. England have won four of their five World Cup meetings. Here are five memorable England-Windies one-day encounters:
World Cup final, Lord’s, 1979
One that got away and a classic selection cock-up. Bob Willis wasn’t fit so England strengthened their batting and the 12 ‘fiddled’ overs from Graham Gooch and Wayne Larkins went for 86, feasted upon by the peerless Viv Richards (138 not out) and the violent Collis King, who made 86 off 66 balls which, back in the day, was Kevin O’Brien and then some. England’s target of 287 was steep anyway but not helped by their snailish start. “Boycott and Brearley … delayed for too long the essential acceleration,” wrote John Woodcock, the master of understatement, in The Cricketer. After 25 overs they were 79 for 0 and when the last 20 started, they needed 7.8 an over. In the end, it wasn’t even close. West Indies won by 92 runs.
Texaco Trophy, Old Trafford, 1984
I was listening to the car radio scarcely able to believe that England, for seemingly the first time in my living memory, had West Indies on their knees. If ever there was a lesson in not counting chickens, this was it. In the first match of a summer that would end in era-defining humiliation for England, West Indies were 102 for 7, then 166 for 9. What a great start for England this would be. But then Viv Richards happened. He was on 96 when the last man Michael Holding joined him. Holding made 12 of their 106-run partnership. On the cover of Bill Frindall’s Wisden Book of One-day Internationals is the definitive image from Richards’ 189 not out. Taken from long-off the picture implies that Richards’ stance is facing the camera but in fact he has stepped outside leg stump to hit Bob Willis over extra cover. “President Reagan, who arrived at the nearby American ambassador’s residence in Regent’s Park on the day of the game, does not enjoy a power so supreme as that exercised by Viv Richards over England’s bowlers,” wrote Christopher Martin-Jenkins in The Cricketer of Richards’ 84 not out in the deciding third match of the series. “A supreme sportsman at his peak,” was The Cricketer’s headline on Colin Cowdrey’s match report.
World Cup, Bridgetown, 2007
Not at his peak but certainly a supreme sportsman, Brian Lara played his 299th and last one-day international as, TWC reported, “not for the first time, an entertaining sideshow to a West Indies defeat. England chased 301 with one wicket and a ball to spare, Kevin Pietersen making an ODI century in a winning cause for the first time.
World Cup group stage, Jaipur, 1987
A Graham Gooch-inspired victory on the way to the first Asian World Cup final. Gooch, who would also score a match-winning century in the semi-final, produced an innings of patient discipline (92 off 137 balls) to set West Indies, who bowled 22 wides, 270 to win. Their wastefulness with the ball was replicated with the bat. From 208 for 4, they collapsed to 235 all out. Viv Richards, having made 51, was, according to The Cricketer, “outwitted by [Eddie] Hemmings”. Not a sentence one expected to read all that often.
Champions Trophy final, The Oval, 2004
As the mid-September sky darkened over south London, an epic tale unfolded. The discredited, maligned West Indies side redeemed themselves, united by the human tragedies of hurricanes in Grenada and Jamaica. England failed to capitalise on Marcus Trescothick’s hundred. Brian Lara pulled off one of the great catches, one-handed low to the ground at short extra cover to snaffle an Andrew Flintoff drive. West Indies chased 218 and at 147 for 8, England looked home and (soon to be) hosed as the light got worse by the minute. But two Bajans, the Lambeth-born wicketkeeper Courtney Browne and left-armer Ian Bradshaw scrapped their way to the line to complete an unlikely but popular victory.
John Stern is the editor of The Wisden Cricketer. Follow him on Twitter at WisdenCric_John