'Big Cat' Clive Lloyd celebrates 75th birthday at scene of his conquest

'Big Cat' Clive Lloyd celebrates 75th birthday at scene of his conquest

Dubai: Clive Lloyd, the legendary West Indies captain, celebrated his 75th birthday alongside many of his peers at the hallowed Lord’s ground on Saturday. The six-foot five-inch tall Lloyd, nicknamed ‘Big Cat,’ had captained West Indies to two successive World Cup triumphs in 1975 and 1979 and dominated the game over 1980s with an assembly line of great batsmen and feared speedsters.

The birthday celebration was held at the Long Room of the Lord’s ground in the pavilion complex from where he lifted the World Cup twice.

Former West Indies captain Brian Lara and opener Gordon Greenidge, a member of Lloyd’s band, were present. Among the England cricketers who attended the dinner function were former England captains Mike Brearley, Mike Atherton, Mike Gatting and David Gower. Lloyd’s Lancashire teammate and former Indian wicketkeeper Farookh Engineer too was present.

UAE cricket enthusiast Shyam Bhatia, a close friend of Lloyd, flew in specially to only attend the dinner function. Former UK Prime Minister John Major, a keen cricket enthusiast, was also present.

Speaking to Gulf News, Bhatia said: “I often meet Lloyd being a close friend for many years but it was yesterday I could feel the enormity of the respect that every former cricketers have for him.”

Lara, speaking at the function, hailed Lloyd as his hero and recalled the first time that his father took him to meet Lloyd. “He [Lloyd] was the manager of the team when I captained West Indies for the first time to Australia. It helped me immensely as I learnt a lot from him during that tour.”

It was a treat to watch Lloyd during his playing days as he walked out to bat with his drooping shoulders, large moustache and thick glasses. Lloyd had hit 102 in the 1975 World Cup final at Lord’s to guide West Indies to a 17-run win over Australia. After making his Test debut against India at Bombay by hitting 82 and 78 not out, he went on to captain West Indies to glory including a run of 26 Tests without defeat, and 11 successive wins. He was a brilliant cover fielder before knee problems forced him to move to slips where he pulled off 90 Test catches.