Monday, June 23, 2008

It takes 25 years to get the honour-Lords of '83: Men who won India the Cup of Joy

Twenty-five years ago, Indian cricket was redefined forever. No Indian cricket fan can forget June 25, 1983 - the day India won the World Cup at Lord's.
CNN-IBN celebrates and honours the men who scripted history for Indian cricket on a special show Lords of '83.
The show conducted by CNN-IBN editor-in-chief Rajdeep Sardesai saw the legends candidly recall the big moment - both on the field and off it. From the team's strategy to who got to drink the most champagne to who got the maximum adulation from female fans, the show revisited some of the unseen, unheard of times.
The panel comprised Kapil Dev, the captain of that World Cup winning team; Sunil Gavaskar, an incomparable batsman; Balwinder Singh Sandhu, the man who started it all by bowling out Gordon Grenidge; Syed Kirmani, the finest wicketkeeper India has ever seen; Yashpal Sharma, one of the most astounding heroes of the '83 triumph and the charismatic Sandeep Patil.
Below are the excerpts from the show.
Rajdeep Sardesai: Will the team be comfortable with the fast-paced Twenty20 cricket played in this day and age?
Kapil Dev:: No, I would rather play golf. It is too difficult and I won't like to do all the running around. Your appearance may suggest so but your legs don't move the same way.
Rajdeep Sardesai: Do you all still remember that day; is it fresh in your mind?
Sunil Gavaskar: Absolutely, because it was an unbelievable moment, an unforgettable moment for all of us. And it was not just for the team but also for all the Indians. It was a moment that got us together. As a team we shared that moment and so it's going to stay with us throughout.
Syed Kirmani: Yes, I will definitely tell my grandson that.
Rajdeep Sardesai: Did your believe that you could beat the two-time world champions?
Balvinder Singh Sandhu: Before going to the World Cup I gave an interview to Pratap Sahi from Ananada Bazaar Patrika and I said if our batsmen can get us 230 runs, we have a good chance.
Yashpal Sharma: Well, I was part of the 1979 World Cup and there we lost all three games and we decided that we will never win the World Cup but at least we will perform better than what we did in '79. We never thought that we will win the very first game against the West Indies.
Sandeep Patil: Crossing my heart, I never thought we will win, not to insult Indian cricket or the record of the Indian cricket but I thought that this was an opportunity for me to play the World Cup.
Krish Srikkanth also joined the discussion and greeted Kapil in Hindi: “Kapil paaji ab mera Hindi achcha ho gaya. 25 saal pehle mera Hindi kharaab tha lekin dekho ab mera Hindi kaisa ho gaya" (Now my Hindi has improved. 25 years ago it was bad but now it has become good)
Kapil Dev:: Ek hi baat hai, iska Hindi achcha ho gaya aur mera English achcha ho gaya. (It's the same thing. His Hindi was got better and my English has improved)
Rajdeep Sardesai: One of the great things about the team was that all of them came from different parts of the country and different communities and played together as a team?
Sunil Gavaskar: What makes India special is that we all come from different parts of a very big country with different cultures, also different kinds of diets and different attitudes apart from the language. We come together as a team on the field and even in the dressing room, you never think of which part of the country he is from..
Rajdeep Sardesai: Kapil's English and Srikkanth's Hindi were not a problem?
Sunil Gavaskar: Not at all. On the field there is very little talk. You know what your job is and you go about it to the best of your ability. You let your job do the talking and not your language.
Rajdeep Sardesai: There were some very special moments of that World Cup win. One was, Balwinder Singh Sandhu's in-swinger that bowled Gordon Grenidge. So, does Sandhu still remember that ball?
Balwinder Singh Sandhu: I think fans will never let me forget that ball. Every year I keep talking about the ball. I bowled Grenidge in the first game and also in Trinidad, he got bowled to an in-swinger. So at the back of my mind I knew he is not picking my in-swinger when I'm bowling close to the stumps.
Kirmani, however, had an interesting take on the Grenidge dismissal.
Syed Kirmani: When I congratulated him after he bowled that in-swinger, Sandhu told me - 'I bowled an out-swinger but it came in’.
Rajdeep Sardesai: Kirmani was also on the other end when Sandhu was hit on the head my Malcolm Marshall.
Syed Kirmani: After he was hit on the head, I didn't tell him anything. Marshall was fired by Dickie Bird, using all the four-letter words for using the bouncer on a tail-ender. He didn't realise that he had a turban under his helmet. So instead of rubbing his head, he was rubbing his helmet.
Balwinder Singh Sandhu:: I just told Kirti that don't worry, my head is well padded up.
Rajdeep Sardesai: Playing the West Indians during that time and taking them on, what was it?
Sandeep Patil: When we started the tour and room partners were assigned, I was lucky but my room partner was so unlucky to have me as a room partner. Fortunately or unfortunately it was Sunil Gavaskar, who shared the room with me. That was the reason why Gavaskar did not score runs. I kept him awake, I kept him out and I don't know how and where he used to spend time. I clearly remember me bombarding him with questions. In fact, I asked him if would be able to even see the balls of West Indians. He asked me what do you mean by 'the balls of the West Indians?' I told him the cricket balls that will be bowled by Marshall. I had not faced West Indians then and Sunil told me that you have faced Dennis Lillee and Jeff Thompson; you will be able to see the balls. I saw the ball and I hit a six.
Rajdeep Sardesai: Another batsman who hit a six was Krish Srikkanth, who hooked Andy Roberts for a six.
Kris Srikkanth:: Unfortunately, Sunny got out early in the match. The wicket was a bit damp and Joel Garner was making the ball move like anything and I didn't know what was happening, I was beaten often. Jimmy (Mohinder Amarnath) was on the other end and I told him - 'I don't know what to do, why don't you play him for a while.' Jimmy told me just play your natural game, do whatever you want. That gave me the license and I knew that if I hang around I will get out anytime, so let m get after the bowling.
Rajdeep Sardesai: But Sunil Gavaskar was the oldest member of the team, so did he have problems handling the younger men?
Sunil Gavaskar: No, we had been together for quite a long time and there was nobody new. And we knew each other for a few years. You never try to control a man like Srikkanth. What he used to do was make the man on the other end feel comfortable," said Gavaskar.
Rajdeep Sardesai: So did the team expect to win after they scored 183? And what did Kapil Dev: tell his men during the innings break?
Kapil Dev:: Getting to the final itself was a victory to us, that's how we were looking at it. If I remember correctly we had got extra time because we got out early. I just said c'mon Jawaano, let's fight it out. We have already made 183, now they have to make the runs. And Sunny said 'stop calling them jawaans, they are officers now.
Rajdeep Sardesai: Does anybody have the stumps from the match at your home?
Yashpal Sharma: I have a stump. If you see the footage, Jimmy tried to grab a stump but couldn't, so he got a bail. I got a stump and Roger Binny got another one. I don't know who got them from the other end. My second daughter when she was in the fifth standard only then did she realise that her father played the World Cup. Her colleugues used to tell her your father has played the World Cup.
Mohinder Amarnath, Man-Of-the-Match of that famous final, had a special message.
Mohinder Amarnath: That day seems like yesterday when Kapil Dev: lifted the cup, that was a very special moment because I felt I was part of the team which had created history. It was probably the beginning Indian cricket and whatever we see now I think started from there.
Rajdeep Sardesai: What did the team do after they won the World Cup?
Sandeep Patil: I was sharing a room with Sunil Gavaskar and during the later half of the tournament, Ravi Shastri joined me. I remember getting back to the hotel, we left lord's and it took us nearly one hour to get to our hotel, which was just around the corner. We had a quick shower and when we came down, there was not even room for a man to stand on one leg. It was so packed.
Yashpal Sharma: We are thankful to the Indian people in England especially in South hall because wherever we played there were 400-500 people who used to travel with us. That was a big support to us throughout the tournament.
Rajdeep Sardesai: Who drank the most ?
Sandeep Patil: The champagne never reached me because Kapil was holding to it and Jimmy and Kapil were had a big fight over the champagne bottle..
Kapil Dev:: We fought over who is going to drink the most.
Syed Kirmani: Orange juice was my drink but I opened the bottle, there were no two ways about it."
Rajdeep Sardesai: Did the team dance?
Yashpal Sharma: Yes, everybody did.
Rajdeep Sardesai: One of the most memorable image of the win was Kapil lifting the cup with Gavaskar lifting Kapil's hand with the Indian flag in the backdrop. Was there a feeling of collective effort that this was done by Team India?
Sunil Gavaskar: Yes, definitely. It was a team effort. In a team game there are always going to be some who are more successful than the others. But at the end of the day if a batsman is going to get a hundred he will need somebody at the other end to stay with him. If a bowler is going to take wickets he needs fielders to take the catches. So invariably it is a team game. So it is somebody who has contributed on the field and not necessarily with the bat and the ball though somebody will always be the stars of the victory.
Rajdeep Sardesai: So what did the victory mean for the other cricketers of that era?
Arun Lal: Not only the cricketers of today but a debt of gratitude not only to the players but that happening. 1983 was spectacular and we are feeding off it even today.
Rajdeep Sardesai: Recently, the IPL the players went home with crores in their pockets. So what did the players take home after the win?
Kapil Dev:: I think we took home pride, happiness and the love of people. I think that's what we took home. Money was very immaterial at that time. Maybe today everybody likes to have good money but at that point I think anybody did not think anything else rather than just winning the cup.
Balwinder Singh Sandhu:: That victory gave Indian cricket self-belief.
Yashpal Sharma: You will be surprised with the kind of welcome we got in Mumbai. It took us 7-8 hours to reach the Wankhede because people were not letting us move. People were not letting us move. There is no footage, so people will not understand.
Rajdeep Sardesai: Did the cricketers get any special attention from the Bollywood actresses after the win?
Sandeep Patil: Well, unfortunately there were no actresses around when we won. But there were many pretty girls around and I don't remember how many kisses I got that night.
Kris Srikkanth:: We enjoyed a lot. I just took a sip of the champagne but I smoked 10-15 cigarettes that evening.
Roger Binny (dismissed the dangerous Clive Lloyd, which might had been the turning point of the match): When I bowled that delivery I had no doubt that Kapil would catch that one after he had hit it. Kapil was a great catcher. We used to call his hands - buckets. I remember all the moments of that match even after 25 years..
Rajdeep Sardesai: The other great turning point of the match was when Viv Richards was caught by Kapil Dev:, who ran a mile to take that catch. Did you think that if I drop this catch I won't be able to come back to India?
Kapil Dev:: No, I don't think any cricketer would get time to think about all this. Once the ball goes up into the air, you don't think that you will drop it or not. You just go. You reflexes take over. I only remember two things. First, when Clive Lloyd was batting, I went to Roger and said that Lloyd is injured his backfoot is bad so try and give the ball as up as possible and let him play on the front foot, and then I went to Madan and asked him if he wants to take a break as before that, Richards had hit me for a two boundaries and Also Madan for two boundaries, So I asked him to take a break. But Madan in his typical style said, 'Tu mainu de de ball (U give me the ball).' And when a player has that much of self-belief and I think its worth.
Madan Lal: I begged him to give the ball to me.
Kapil Dev:: He literally forced me to give him one more over and I said ok.
Rajdeep Sardesai: Were 1971 and 1983 defining moments in Indian cricketing history in terms of self-belief?
Sunil Gavaskar: I think, yes. In 1971, we beat West Indies in England in Test matches for the first time, which gave us a belief that we can play well overseas. And the 1983 win gave us the belief that we can play the world champions or anybody anywhere and can beat them. And that really goes to show the confidence the team had. And when you are defending 183, it is obvious to say that a few early wickets can bring a team back into the game. And that is exactly what happened.
Madan Lal: I never used to deliver any special ball to Richards. I always believed that if you go after the greatest player then you might have a chance. That is what I did.
Rajdeep Sardesai: Sunil Gavaskar took a lot of catches that day.
Sunil Gavaskar: But once again, you got to give credit to Kapil for all that. At that stage, defending a total of 183, you don't keep a fielder at the catching position and not many captains would do that. A captain may not keep a slip but keep the fielder to save a single but Kapil attacked and therefore, he was looking to take wickets. He always realised that 183 is not a score that one can stop the opposition from making in 60 overs, so, the only way to stop them was to bowl them out and that is exactly what he did.
Rajdeep Sardesai: But what about the activities off the field?
Kirti Azad: We played a game at the Old Trafford and we had beaten the West Indies in the first game. We were having drinks and I thought of having some fun. Roger was there and I started to tell him some story and took him near the pool and pushed him inside. Then another NRI friend, who was also present there with us asked me 'what happened' and I asked him to come and check out that Roger has fallen into the poll and moment he came near to check it out, i pushed him into the pool as well.
Rajdeep Sardesai: Sunil Wilson did not get to play the matches. But being a part of the team, it must be a great feeling?
Sunil Wilson: Absolutely. I was just about 20-years-old and it was great feeling to have won the World Cup. But one question that I have been asked time and again is that I haven't played a single match. However, being a part of that team was a great honour and a privilege.In fact, in the dressing room there were a couple of the senior Borad officials. we talk about superstitious practiced by the players but that day, these gentlemen asked us to sit in the dressing room and not change our seats and hence, we missed out on quite a lot of actions.
P R Mansingh, who was the manager of that World Cup winning team also joined the team during the programme.
PP Mansingh: All the players were matured and grown up people and I never put my foot down and set any curfew time for them to go to bed or anything like that.
Kapil Dev:: We had a curfew for him.
Rajdeep Sardesai: It the team which came together during the 83 World Cup. But in reality was there the senior-junior divide or something?
Kris Srikkanth:: No, not at all. I was probably the junior most in the team at that time but what happened was that there was no expectations from us, so we had a lot of fun. In fact, we used to rag Mansingh as he was new and as Kapil said, we used to put curfew on him. And I think the first match against the West Indies was the turning point. We met them first at the Old Trafford and on the eve of the match, Kapil gave us a deadly speech, saying that the last time we met West Indies in one of the series, we had beaten them.
Meanwhile, Dilip Vengsarkar also gave a message for his team besides sharing his memorable moment.
Vengsarkar said,"The celebrations that we had after the tournament was absolutely fantastic. And to meet everyone after 25 years would be really, really great."
Rajdeep Sardesai: Is this a bit of a class re-union and Kirti is the bad boy of the class?
Kirti Azad: No, I am not the bad boy and none of my team mates are calling me a bad boy.
Rajdeep Sardesai: But can this be considered as a re-union that all the players are so happy about? Is this Lords of 83 for you?
Kapil Dev:: We do meet each other quite regularly at the other matches but this is the first time we are coming together as a team and that is why it is so special. And nothing has changed as such, except for the fact that we have lost weight at the top (hair) and have gained at the middle.
Meanwhile, some of the members of the Twenty20 World Championship 2007 winning team conveyed their messages and good wished to the 1983 world Cup winning team.
Rajdeep Sardesai: Do you all consider yourselves as great motivators to the younger generation?
Kapil Dev:: When you are playing you don't think all those things at all. Once you win then you realise that the younger generation is looking up to you, then you feel proud. But when you are playing you are too much concerned about your own performance.
Rajdeep Sardesai: But is it not that the generations to come would feel the pressure that India had once done it in 1983 and when the 2011 world Cup will come, the younger stars are being told that you got to do it all over again?
Sunil Gavaskar: Yes, they will be under pressure because of the fact that after 1983, India have never won the World Cup. So, surely, they would be under pressure to try and repeat it.
Rajdeep Sardesai: Is there any message for the youngsters? What should they do to win the World Cup?
Sunil Gavaskar: We were totally relaxed. We went out there and played and played for a lot of fun. We didn't think of the consequences. We played each ball on its merit - some of us got out, some of us bowled bad balls but at the end of the day, it all gelled together well for us. We were enjoying ourselves on the field as well as of the field.
Rajdeep Sardesai: How many of you want to play Twenty20 now?
"We are all ready to play," said everyone in chorus.
Rajdeep Sardesai: One can say that the 1983 World cup winning effort was driven by two men - Captain Kapil Dev: and Sunil Gavaskar, who brought together the class 83. Gavaskar who is a grandfather now has achieved everything one could have achieved on the cricket field and so is the case with Kapil Dev:. Yet, you guys have chosen to bring the team together. What motivated you?
Sunil Gavaskar: Just the fact that it is a special moment. We in India, celebrate anniversaries. This is our 25th year and I remember last time when we were in England last year, I went ahead and booked the long room at Lord's, one year in advance just to make sure that it didn't go anywhere else. Luckily, there was no ODI and the whole idea was to have fun trip nostalgia."
Kapil Dev:: I think it is going to be a party but it is going to be really very emotional. And it is going to be fun. Most of the times your life goes through rough periods but when the good times come then you should go out there and enjoy. You also have to pass on the message to the new generation also - that we had achived something and now you will also have to work hard and reach there as well. But now we are going to have a great time.

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