December 31st, 2021: The movie ’83’ has brought to light one of the sweetest and most glorious moments of Indian cricket. On 25th June 1983, India captured the world of cricket at the mecca of cricket, Lord’s. The victory in the World Cup was achieved in the golden year of Indian cricket, having played their first Test match in 1932 at Lord’s.
Nearly 60 per cent of the Indian population today was not born then and the rest were following it on the radio on that day. To relive the victory of the side captained by India’s greatest all-rounder, Kapil Dev, along with his merry men of ’83 must be just the film for them to cherish and enjoy.
Indian cricket did have some historical moments earlier but to emerge victorious on the world stage when all eyes were glued to the outcome, was an unbelievable feat. Beating top sides such as Australia in the quarters, England in the semis and the champion side West Indies in the final was outstanding.
Indian cricket has the knack of toppling the best when least expected. They did so in 1971 beating England after they had won the Ashes against Australia and were seen as the top side, thereafter. The victory against West Indies in 1983 finally led to the gradual downfall of the formidable side that had threatened the cricket stage for nearly a decade.
In 2001, the Steve Waugh-led Australian side, who powered world cricket then, were finally beaten by the Sourav Ganguly-led Indian side. They looked all set to capture, what they referred to as the ‘Final Frontier’, but fell short in doing so.
Being part of the World Cup 1979 side, I know how humiliating and dismissive the English administration was towards the Indian side. The treatment meted out by them towards us, whom they looked at as a side that was there to fulfil a number and nothing more, was galling.
The performances in 1975 and 1979 by India did not augment well for Indian cricket, with only one win under their belt. The 1983 win changed Indian cricket forever, as the team became the favourite in 1987 and the World Cup moved away from England to the Asian shores. India, thereafter, became the epicentre of world cricket.
The astute Indian administrators in NKP Salve, Jagmohan Dalmia and Inderjit Singh Bindra brought revenue and earnings into the BCCI coffers, which finally has led to India becoming financially the richest cricket board in the world. The victory on the field was just the catalyst needed to get these three off-the-field stalwarts into play and one needs to give them plenty of accolades for making Indian cricket the formidable body that it has become today.
One remembers the days when we got 15 pounds per day for all our expenses such as food, laundry and incidental expenses. The cricket sweaters were acrylic and the flannels and shirts only good for one wash. The blazers and suits were barely wearable being way out of fashion. One looked at dinner invitations and if they were not forthcoming, then the fast food takeaways were the only alternative.
However, the pleasure of playing for the country and the passion to play the game of cricket was what made all these constraints take a back seat. Taking fellow cricket colleagues’ clothes to do the laundry or getting food for them were moments that led to companionship, closeness and camaraderie. The Indian team was a centre of laughter and jokes.
The movie ’83’ brings back memories and emotions of those moments and the 14 men and their manager, in quite literal terms, laughed all the way to the victory podium. The toothy smile of Kapil Dev lifting the World Cup trophy on the balcony of Lord’s said it all.
India’s 83 World Cup win also led to millions of fan following and the Indian cricketers were, from being looked at as minnows, catapulted to be superstars and considered on their day, to be world beaters.
Those glorious moments of an Indian team with no hope made India into a house-hold name which has been captured in the film is such a grand manner.
Best wishes to ’83’ becoming a super-duper success, especially since it was a major turning point in the ascension of Indian cricket.
Kaps and his 1983 team need to be given all the glory and kudos for what they so wonderfully achieved. A salute to these magnificent men.
(Yajurvindra Singh is a former Test cricketer. Views expressed are personal.)