The phlogiston theory is a superseded scientific theory that postulated that a fire-like element called phlogiston is contained within combustible bodies and released during combustion. The name comes from the Ancient Greek φλογιστόν phlogistón (burning up), from φλόξ phlóx (flame). It was first stated in 1667 by Johann Joachim Becher and then put together more formally by Georg Ernst Stahl. The theory attempted to explain processes such as combustion and rusting, which are now collectively known as oxidation.

Phlogiston legacy

In the 1770s Carl Scheele was one of the first to identify hydrogen and oxygen (as well as molybdenum, tungsten, barium and chlorine), but because he followed the phlogiston theory, assumed that hydrogen was composed of phlogiston (a reducing principle lost when objects were burned) plus heat. Scheele speculated that his fire air or oxygen (which he found the active part of air, estimating it to compose one quarter of air) combined with the phlogiston in objects to produce either light or heat (light and heat were presumed to be composed of differing proportions of phlogiston and oxygen).

Joseph Priestley independently isolated oxygen from mercury oxide, which he called dephlogisticated air, rather than believing it to be a new element.

In France Antoine Lavoisier (1743-1794) performed similar experiments with the same substances. He got the same results as Priestley, but he was seeking a new explanation of combustion, so he saw his results from a different perspective. Lavoisier suggested that rather than phlogiston being given off when a metal rusted, or a substance burned, a more simple explanation was that Priestley's new gas, which he called oxygen, was being absorbed from the air.

Also during this time Henry Cavendish recognised the elemental nature of hydrogen. In the 1780s he accurately measured the composition of air where he concluded that "common air consists of one part of dephlogisticated air [oxygen], mixed with four of phlogisticated [nitrogen]".

It was not until the twentieth century that the last legacy of phlogiston was explained away with the new theory of combustion where heat was revealed to be a form of energy.
Having drawn the 1973-74 series in the West Indies, England started the 1976 series at home against the West Indies in confident mood, with their captain Tony Greig proclaiming before TV cameras that England would make West Indies "grovel". Greig was never allowed to forget that comment, although in a subsequent interview many years later he recounted that his comment was born out of frustration with the journalist interviewing him at Hove in early season 1976. Greig felt that the interviewer was concentrating too much on the West Indies fast bowling attack and not discussing England's strengths. Even in an interview with Sky Sports "Saturday Story" only around a year before Greig died, he was prepared to apologise on camera for his remark - even some 35 years after he had originally made it.

1976 - West Indies cricket tour

West Indian cricket team in England in 1976
 WestIndiesCricketFlagPre1999.svg Flag of England.svg
  West Indies England
Dates 12 May – 17 August
Captains Clive Lloyd Tony Greig
Alan Knott (1st ODI)
Test series
Result West Indies won the 5-match series 3–0
Most runs Viv Richards (829) David Steele (308)
Most wickets Michael Holding (28) Derek Underwood (17)
One Day International series
Results West Indies won the 3-match series 3–0
Most runs Viv Richards (216) Derek Randall (127)
Most wickets Andy Roberts (8) Derek Underwood (5)
Player of the series Derek Randall (Eng) and Viv Richards (WI)

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