The warm-up matches on the 1976 West Indies tour did exactly what they were designed to do, bringing runs for all of the top order batsmen – Vivian Richards scored tons against Hampshire and the MCC, with Clive Lloyd, Larry Gomes, Collis King and Gordon Greenidge also scoring hundreds, whilst there were five wicket hauls for Bernard Julien and Vanburn Holder – twice each, as well as the spinner Albert Padmore and the fast bowler Wayne Daniel.

Additionally, the side had accrued confidence from four wins and two draws from the six matches played.

The final pre-Test game had been at Hove against a Sussex side that featured Tony Greig, newly appointed as the England captain. He had made just 4 in his one visit to the middle in the tour match, becoming one of Julien’s seven victims.

"So, comfortable in their surroundings, and with a noisy West Indian following in the crowd, they combined beautifully to leave England wicketless for the second half of the day."

As that match drew to its conclusion Greig conducted an interview, with the BBC Sportsnight programme, looking ahead to the forthcoming series.

During the previous winter, during a spell playing grade cricket for Waverley, in the Bondi Beach area of Sydney, the England captain had kept a firm eye on the Australia v West Indies series. Clearly he had formulated a few battle plans of his own but he would have been better advised to keep them to himself.

Instead, on interview, Greig made the point that if you let the West Indians get on top then they are magnificent cricketers. He went on to add “But if they’re down, they grovel, and I intend, with the help of Closey and a few others, to make them grovel.”

The use of the word ‘grovel’ was instantly seized upon by the media – and by the West Indian team.

For the English captain, Greig – a South African by birth – to use the word ‘grovel’, with all it’s racial connotations, meant that the series would begin with an atmosphere akin to a tinderbox – likely to combust with only the slightest provocation.

 Viv Richards wrote, in his excellent autobiography, Sir Vivian (Michael Joseph),that this was the greatest motivational speech Greig could have done for firing the West Indian side up.

Greig’s reference to ‘Closey’ was confirmation that Brian Close would definitely be recalled to the England team for the Trent Bridge Test.

Now 35, he hadn’t played Test cricket for nine years, since captaining England to victory over Pakistan at the Kennington Oval in August 1967. A typically gritty 88 in a tour match a fortnight earlier had shown the selectors that Close was in decent nick and was up for the fight against the West Indies.

His return meant that he would slot into a fairly senior top four, alongside 38 year old John Edrich, 34 year old David Steele and Middlesex’s captain Mike Brearley – also 34, who was brought in for his Test debut.

Additionally England had three more players over 30 years of age in their side in John Snow, Alan Knott and Derek Underwood.

West Indies selected Wayne Daniel ahead of Holding, whilst Larry Gomes was given a Test debut instead of Lawrence Rowe.

Lloyd won the toss and had no hesitation in batting first. Greenidge made 22 and Fredericks 42 but their dismissals left Vivian Richards and Alvin Kallicharran together soon after lunch.

Both had enjoyed themselves on previous visits to Nottingham – Kallicharran had scored 124 on the previous tour in 1973 whilst a year later Richards had scored a brilliant century for Somerset to win a John Player League match against Nottinghamshire.

So, comfortable in their surroundings, and with a noisy West Indian following in the crowd, they combined beautifully to leave England wicketless for the second half of the day.

Richards’ century came from 144 deliveries and at stumps he was on 143 with Kalli – as the Trent Bridge scoreboard called him – on a workmanlike 52.

The onslaught really gained momentum on the second day as Richards sped to his first Test double hundred and beyond. With 232 to his name he hoisted Underwood to long on where Greig took a well-judged catch to signify the start of a lengthy and well-deserved standing ovation.

Kallicharran fell to the same bowler shortly afterwards, just three runs short of a century of his own. The third wicket stand between the pair had materialised 303 runs – bearing that in mind England did reasonably well to take the last eight wickets for just 86 as the West Indies closed on 494.

One over was safely negotiated at the end of the second day but the third morning brought an immediate breakthrough, with Brearley falling for nought on debut, edging his fourth delivery, from Julien, to Richards at slip.

Close also failed but Edrich batted for three hours in making 37 and then Steele and Woolmer put on 121 together for the fourth wicket as they took England to 221-3 at the close of the third day.

Refreshed after the rest day, the West Indies’ attack immediately gained the upper hand on the Monday morning. Steele hooked a short delivery from Daniel straight into the hands of long leg and then came a moment that the noisy Caribbean supporters celebrated with relish.

Greig, under intense pressure and scrutiny after his pre-match comments, was beaten for pace and clean bowled without scoring from a hostile delivery from Roberts.

Woolmer’s 82 ensured that the follow-on had been saved but the West Indies began their second innings 162 ahead.

Greenidge had an injured leg and was allowed to bat with a runner, although umpires Dickie Bird and Tom Spencer intervened when Collis King came out to do the job – King wasn’t even playing in the match!

Larry Gomes took over instead. Pushing for quick runs, the West Indies reached 176-5, with Richards again dominant in making 63, before Lloyd declared.

Set 339 to win in five and a quarter hours, England were content to bat sensibly and safely to ensure the series would remain level going into the next match.

3rd, 4th, 5th, 7th, 8th June 1976 (5 days match)
Toss: won by West Indies who elected to bat
Umpires: HD Bird, TW Spencer
Result: Match drawn

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England v West Indies - Investec Test at Trent Bridge

England face West Indies in an Investec Test Match at Trent Bridge from Friday 25 May - Tuesday 29 May. Adult tickets cost £35-£50, all under 21s tickets cost £20, under 16s tickets cost £10 (£8 for day four) and family tickets cost £80 (2 adults, 2 under 16s).

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England v West Indies - Natwest International Twenty20 at Trent Bridge

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Clarke's Meadow & The Calypso Kings
Clarke’s Meadow & The Calypso Kings, the new hardback from Dave Bracegirdle, looks at how the West Indies have managed to keep intact a proud record of never having lost a first class fixtureat Trent Bridge and profiles the players who have enjoyed themselves as members of the county club.

Probably more than any other ground outside the Caribbean, Trent Bridge has become synonymous with West Indian success and a long unbeaten run in first class matches, a statistic that will next be tested during the Investec Test Match in May.
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Dave Bracegirdle is a broadcaster, sports writer and author who provides ball-by-ball commentary of all of Nottinghamshire's LV= County Championship matches.