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Why 1979-80 remains my favourite summer of cricket

Kalva new author
Roar Rookie
4th December, 2021
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Kalva new author
Roar Rookie
4th December, 2021

The summer of cricket is about to start and my mind drifts back to the summers of my youth.

Out of all the seasons I think about, the season of 1979-80 is the one I recall most fondly.

I was born in England in the late 1960s to Indian immigrant parents and the first memory I have of following cricket was the 1976 ‘Grovel’ tour by the West Indies. I remember being mesmerised by Viv Richards, Andy Roberts and Michael Holding.

But the next year was more fascinating as Man United won the FA Cup and their manager got sacked, which I could never understand why.

But more importantly, I kept hearing that all these cricketers had signed to play for some millionaire and they would never play Test cricket again.

Kerry Packer and Tony Greig

(Photo by Allsport/Getty Images)

My young mind couldn’t quite fathom all this but in 1978, I saw David Gower bat in a Sunday league match and he became my hero.

I thought he was the best batsman of all time and I spent hours trying to make myself a leftie to no avail (although I did look good in the mirror).


A few months later, my family decided to move to Australia and that was that. Off we went and suddenly I was at the SCG watching an Ashes Test where England were winning easily.

And the next week I was there again and Kerry Packer was collecting my ticket as WSC Australia were beating the WSC West Indies.

I had never been so close to cricketers in my life and yet, through it all, I found a new hero… Kim Hughes.

He was a right hander who just smashed the ball and stuck his tongue out while he did it (just like me except for the smashing the ball part!).

It was an interesting time watching the different series going on but in the middle of 1979, they said that there would be a compromise and everyone would get to play for Australia again.

Hughes was now captain and was scoring lots of runs in India and yet all the bigwigs like Ian Chappell were saying that forget about the captain, he would struggle to make the new Australian team.


By this time, I was also very closely allied with guys like Allan Border, Rodney Hogg, Geoff Dymock and others and I was delighted to see them all picked for the first Test versus the West Indies.

Allan Border

(Credit: Ben Radford/Allsport via Getty Images)

Anyway, the summer came along and suddenly there was official night cricket, white balls, sort of coloured clothes, classic catches (Ian Botham!) and it turned out to be the most memorable summer I can remember.

Hughes scored a fantastic ton at the Gabba versus the West Indies and a brilliant 99 at the WACA versus England to show he belonged on the big stage.

Richards was a beast even though he was injured half the time.

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The quartet of Roberts, Holding, Joel Garner and Colin Croft were out of this world as the West Indies showed that they were now the undisputed number one of cricket.

And I even got to go to the SCG again to see Gower score a sparkling 98 not out!

There were many other highlights of the season but everyone seemed to get along again and enjoy each other’s success.

There may have been better cricket played over the years but for a 11-year-old boy in the suburbs of Sydney, this summer still remains the best of them all.