After the humiliating 5-1 loss in 1975-76, the West Indies started building the terrifying fast bowling attack that would dominate the eighties and early nineties. The West Indies won 20 and drew nine Test series’ from June 1980 to February 1995.
The retirements of Dennis Lillee, Greg Chappell and Rod Marsh in 1984 sent Australia into a tailspin for most of the decade.
Australia showed some fight with a drawn series in 1981-82, starting on Boxing Day.
Against Michael Holding (5/45), Colin Croft (2/39), Joel Garner (2/59) and Sir Andy Roberts (1/40), Kim Hughes grafted an unbeaten hundred, over half of Australia’s 198. We all remember the pandemonium late on day one, with Lillee dismissing Desmond Haynes, nightwatchman Croft and Sir Viv Richards to reduce the visitors to 4/10. Larry Gomes scored 55 on day two but, Australia looked like taking a slim first innings lead before David Murray (32 not out) and Garner gave the West Indies a three-run advantage on the third morning. Lillee finished with 7/83. Allan Border (66), Bruce Laird (64) and Graeme Wood (46) set the West Indies 220 to win, with Holding taking 6/62. Spinner Bruce Yardley took 4/38 as Australia won by 58 runs. Lillee completed a 10-wicket haul and passed Lance Gibbs as Test cricket’s highest wicket taker.
After a draw in Sydney, the West Indies retained Frank Worrell with a five wicket win in Adelaide.
Australia travelled to the Caribbean in 1984, losing 3-0. The West Indies’ biggest win was in the fourth Test in Antigua, belting the Aussies by an innings and 36 runs. Allan Border grafted 98 as Australia was dismissed for 262. At 2/43, Australia had a sniff. Then Richards (178) joined Richie Richardson (154) for a 308-run stand. Carl Rackemann took 5/161 as the West Indies amassed 498 in 146 overs. Garner (5/63) and Malcolm Marshall (3/51) finished off a demoralized Australia in 66 overs.
A few months later, the West Indies came back to Australia and won 3-1, their first win down under in five years. It was all over before Christmas, with the West Indies winning in Perth (an innings and 112 runs), Brisbane (eight wickets) and Adelaide (191 runs). Australia finished a horrible summer brightly, winning by an innings and 55 runs in Sydney, with the South African-born Aussie Kepler Wessels scoring 173.
In 1988/89, the West Indies returned to Australia. While Australia – captained by Border – was improving, the West Indies still won 3-1, wrapping the series up by Christmas with wins in Brisbane (nine wickets), Perth (169 runs) and Melbourne (285 runs). The WACA Test is remembered for Merv Hughes’ unusual hat-trick. He dismissed Curtly Ambrose and Patrick Patterson to end the first innings and got Gordon Greenidge first ball of the second innings. Hughes finished with 13/217 but Australia still lost. Australia’s seven wicket win in Sydney was aided by Border’s all-round contribution. Border took 7/46 with his left arm spinners to dismiss the West Indies for 224 on day one. David Boon hit 149, supported by Border (75) and Steve Waugh (55 not out), as Australia replied with 401. Desmond Haynes crunched 143, but four more wickets to Border (match figures of 11/96) ensured an easy chase.
It was much closer in 1991, with the West Indies winning their home series 2-1. The West Indies were led by Marshall (21 wickets at 20.80), Patterson (18 at 22.72), Ambrose (18 at 27.38) and Courtney Walsh (17 at 25.05). After winning the Ashes in 1989, Australia were forming the team that would dominate cricket in the nineties and 2000s. Mark Taylor (441 runs at 49) and Mark Waugh (367 at 61.16) scored the runs while Craig McDermott (24 wickets at 23.50) and Hughes (19 at 31) took 43 wickets between them.
The 1992-93 series in Australia was historic for many reasons. It was the last time the West Indies would win the Frank Worrell Trophy and gave superstars Brian Lara (277 at the SCG) and Shane Warne (7/52 in the second innings at the MCG) their moments to shine. The frustration of the Aussies was captured in Adelaide. Chasing 186, Tim May (42 not out) and McDermott were grinding Australia to an unlikely win that would secure Frank Worrell for the first time since 1975-76. After 88 minutes of resistance, McDermott gloved a Walsh bouncer and the West Indies won by a run. The West Indies finished the job in Perth. Ambrose (9/79 for the match) feasted on Australia as the West Indies won by an innings and 25 runs inside three days, turning a 1-0 deficit into a 2-1 victory.
Continued in Frank Worrell Trophy part three: The Aussies Rise and the West Indies’ Demise