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World Cup 1983

The World Cup has now been competed for on 10 separate occasions and has, over the years, thrown up a number of interesting results and some genuine acts of giant-killing. The humbling defeat of the still powerful West Indians by Kenya in 1996, and the subsequent triumph that year by Sri Lanka remains, probably, the best remembered, but Ireland, Bangladesh and Canada have all subsequently delighted those who love to see an underdog triumph.

In many ways however the most dramatic World Cup, in the shocks and surprises department, was that of 1983. This was the third and final tournament that was sponsored by Prudential and indeed, with interest now being shown by Australia and India, was to be the last to be played in England for 16 years.

The West Indies had won the inaugural tournament back in 1975 when England, due mainly to familiarity with the format, had started as favourites. By 1979 Clive Lloyd’s team was the proverbial well-oiled machine and they were not stretched in retaining the trophy. They arrived for the 1983 tournament with a 100 per cent World Cup record still intact.

As for India they had been by some distance the slowest of the traditional Test-playing countries to get to grips with ODIs and after their inauspicious start in 1975 they had fared even worse in 1979 when they lost all three games that they played. First up they had been hammered by Lloyd’s men and lost by nine wickets. They weren’t quite so heavily beaten by New Zealand, but an eight wicket defeat still bordered on the ignominious, but they would have expected to beat Sri Lanka, still three years away from Test status. By the time the match was played the Indians were already out of the tournament, so morale would not have been high, but they really should have done better than they did. Sri Lanka did not exactly dominate the game, but they ran out comfortable winners. The overall result of all this was that at the beginning of the 1983 tournament, in stark contrast to the record of the holders, India only had one victory to show for their participation in two World Cups, and that against the very weak East African side who had made up the numbers in 1975.

India’s reputation in England had not been helped on their last visit, the previous summer in 1982, when the home side won the three match Test series 1-0 and then easily beat the Indians in the two ODIs that followed. No one thought India were a poor side, after all they had beaten England in a Test series and an ODI series at home the previous winter, but they weren’t considered to have much of a chance in 1983.

The world was a rather bigger place in the early 1980s than it is today and India’s trip to the Caribbean in early 1983 did not have very much impact in England, but a look back shows that change was already on the way before the 1983 tournament began. India had a new skipper, the dynamic all-rounder Kapil Dev. History was to prove he was not a great captain, but he was an enthusiastic one with new ideas and, above all, a thorough understanding of the short form of the game. India lost the Test series 2-0, although over five Tests they emerged with credit. In the midst of the Tests there was a three match ODI series, which India lost 2-1, but the game they won was the important one. Sunil Gavaskar anchored the innings, rather more positively than he had at Lord’s in1975, and a blistering 72 from Kapil Dev meant that it was a case of India winning the game, rather than West Indies losing it.

So what did the cricket world expect in 1983? Clive Lloyd was a little guarded but understandably seemed confident. Prior to the tournament he wrote … West Indies are again pre-tournament favourites ….. which, since we are defending champions and in view of our record in limited-overs cricket is fair enough. It does mean, however, that we are a marked team, that we are the ones that the others will want to beat. So the pressure is on …

The Official TCCB brochure agreed with Lloyd its editor writing The West Indies will undoubtedly start as favourites … although possibly not at such short odds as in previous years … although the reason lies less with the reported aging of their fast bowlers and “over the hillness” of some of their batsman, than with the recent improvement in rival teams.

Mike Carey of the Daily Telegraph agreed, and wrote The qualities of Clive Lloyd’s team are well-known – their dashing strokemakers, their battery of fast bowlers, their athletic fielding. Although it has perhaps been possible to detect one or two signs of vulnerability lately, they will start this year’s competition as most people’s favourites. He predicted decent challenges from England, Pakistan, Australia and possibly New Zealand, but of India said simply At the moment though, they probably lack the bowling strength to hope to do more than improve their modest record in this competition.

The Official brochure was a little less dismissive; Since 1979 India have adapted to the limited-overs game and in Kapil Dev have found the type of all-rounder who revels in such matches …. they could well spring one or two surprises this year. In Wisden Cricket Monthly David Frith was rather less sanguine and somewhat more forthright about India’s prospects; India can only hope to redeem their dismal record of past World Cup performances. They plodded against England in the most bloody-minded fashion in 1975 and managed to lose to the then humble Sri Lankans in 1979. If their pride is not important enough to spur them to wholehearted effort this time, they might as well give way to other would-be participants in 1987.

And what of the bookmakers? Cricket betting was not the big business it is today in 1983, and the bookies generally followed the pundits, so India were 66-1 to lift the trophy. Zimbabwe were 1,000-1.

The Cup’s format on this occasion was slightly changed in that while there were still eight teams involved, the first round consisted of six games for each team rather than three as in previous years. Thus the finalists would play eight matches, rather than the five of 1975 and 1979. The move increased revenue of course, although the stated reason was that the extended preliminaries reduced the risk of teams being eliminated as much because of adverse weather conditions as the standard of cricket that they played. As May was wet and miserable the reasoning seemed sound enough, although thankfully once June arrived and the games began the weather improved markedly and there were few interruptions.

The very first day of the tournament saw a huge shock at Trent Bridge. With Sri Lanka’s elevation to the game’s top table there was only one Associate in the tournament, this time Zimbabwe, still almost a decade away from acquiring Test status themselves. They were playing Australia for whom the game was expected to be a gentle workout. The Australian attack was, not unreasonably, modelled on the successful West Indian formula of four out and out quicks backed up by a couple of batsman filling in. With Dennis Lillee, Jeff Thomson, Rodney Hogg and Geoff Lawson as the quartet it was a decent looking line-up, even if Lillee and Thomson were both past their best. Alan Border and Graham Yallop were very much a case of scratching around for a fifth bowler, although in the event they bowled as well as anyone and in fact bowled 14 overs between them, rather than just the 12 they needed to bowl.

Australia won the toss and despite balmy conditions decided to invite Zimbabwe, captained by the then unknown Duncan Fletcher, to bat first, a clear sign that they saw the potential for an early finish. The Zimbabweans started well enough, but then lost both openers on 55 to successive deliveries by Lillee. They regrouped and got to 86 without further mishap but then found themselves on 94-5 as Border and Yallop took three wickets between them. The best Zimbabwean batsman, David Houghton, went without scoring. It was an odd dismissal as the umpire at the bowler’s end turned down Rod Marsh’s appeal for a catch at the wicket on the basis he had dropped the ball before completing the catch. The decision that Houghton was out was made by the square leg umpire.

Zimbabwe might have disintegrated at that point but Kevin Curran, who was to prove in more than a decade of county cricket just what a good player he was, helped Fletcher add 70 for the sixth wicket and while 23 year old Iain Butchart was terrified when he came in at number eight to join his captain, Fletcher had by then got used to the challenge, and he helped his young partner match him run for run as they took Zimbabwe to 239-6 at the end of their 60 overs a total which, while it did not look like a match-winning one, was certainly competitive and gave Australia, and the six left-handers in their top seven, something to think about. The Zimbabweans were in a sense fortunate, as Australia put down at least five catches, but then there was the bizarre Houghton dismissal, and while ultimately Butchart replacing Curran did not cost any impetus, the Zimbabweans were deeply disappointed with his dismissal, convinced to a man that the David Hookes had caught him on the half-volley.

By definition none of the Zimbabwean bowlers had played in an ODI before, although one, the Egyptian born off-spinner John Traicos, had played three Tests for South Africa in 1969/70, so there was some experience there. The seamers, Vince Hogg, Peter Rawson, Curran, Fletcher and Butchart are all described by cricinfo as fast-medium, although from my recollection that is perhaps a little generous in some cases. In any event Fletcher knew his men weren’t going to trouble the Australians with their pace, and the tactics were to bowl a tight line.

The plan was that Hogg would reel off his twelve overs from the start. He managed six, at a cost of just 15 before he had to limp off, not to return. Graeme Wood and Kepler Wessels showed little urgency however and allowed themselves to be tied down and Fletcher kept chipping away, taking the first four wickets to fall. Traicos went wicketless, but conceded just 27 runs in his 12 overs and not one of the Zimbabwean bowlers was really collared at any point and in an astonishingly unprofessional display the Australians actually managed to run out of time. At the end of their 60 overs they were still 13 runs short with three wickets left in hand. Nor was there any clatter of late wickets as the last delivery of the innings brought up the 50 partnership between Marsh and Hogg. To be fair to those two they had shown rather more urgency than the earlier batsmen but tactically it remains an inept performance. Fletcher, inevitably, was named Man of the Match, but Butchart (who as well as his runs at the end took 1-39 from ten overs) and Traicos had made impressive ODI debuts as well.

While Zimbabwe were slaying Goliath their fellow outsiders, although both were in the same group, had also enjoyed a reasonable day although their match was one of just three (out of 27) that needed to reconvene on the second day. The Manchester weather had prevented a prompt start at Old Trafford and when play had eventually got under way after lunch Clive Lloyd had had no hesitation on winning the toss in inviting India to bat in the overcast conditions. India got to 262-8 by the end of their 60 overs and given his own failure Kapil must have been delighted with that. The main contributor, with 89, was the thick-set Yashpal Sharma, a man who never quite established himself in the Indian side. No one else played a major innings but Sandeep Patil got 36, seamer Roger Binny helped Sharma add 73 and Madan Lal scored some quick runs at the end. In the 21 overs the West Indies faced before the close they got to 67-2, so honours were even.

Most expected West Indies to win comfortably. Despite the fact that Greenidge and Haynes were gone Vivian Richards, Lloyd, Faood Bacchus, Larry Gomes and Jeff Dujon were not expected to be troubled unduly by the task of taking five runs per over from India’s accurate but far from devasting battery of medium pacers backed up by Ravi Shashtri’s innocuous orthodox slow left arm. It was ironic that in what followed India’s one top class bowler, her captain, failed to take a wicket. As it was Binny soon dismissed the dangerous Richards and after that India took wickets regularly until, with 106 still required, the West Indies last pair came together. For a time it looked like Andy Roberts might, in company with Joel Garner, repeat the heroics that brought West Indies a one wicket win against Pakistan in 1975. India were in a state of some disarray as the two fast bowlers added 71 but before things got too tight Kapil had the courage to bring Shastri back, and Garner was stumped straight away, and the first round of matches had thrown up another remarkable result.

Despite the shocks most believed that the normal course of events would resume after those fairytale Zimbabwean and Indian victories. For Zimbabwe to a large extent it did. They lost twice to the West Indies. The losing margin in the first match was eight wickets, but after scoring 217 it was no walkover. Even in the ten wicket defeat in the second match Fletcher’s men totalled 171, although without Curran’s 62 it would have been a drubbing. Against India they also lost both games, the first by five wickets, comfortably, but the second match was a remarkable one. Rawson and Curran strangled the Indian batting and reduced them to 17-5 in the thirteenth over, and only one Indian batsman was destined to score more than 24. Unfortunately for Zimbabwe though it was the ultimate one man show as Kapil plundered an unbeaten 175 as his side reached a comfortable 266-8 by the end of their innings. The Zimbabweans could have been forgiven for being utterly demoralised by then, and it is true that they never looked like winning, but at the same time they never gave up and ended up only 31 adrift.

And the return with Australia? Well lightning could not and did not strike twice, as Australia ran out winners by 32 runs, but it might have been different. Australia batted first and totalled 272 and must have been confident. But at 212-5 in the 51st over, and Curran and Houghton together in a sixth wicket partnership that had so far produced 103 vital runs, the match could have gone either way. Sadly for Zimbabwe and every neutral watching Trevor Chappell then trapped Curran lbw and in no time it was 213-9. Traicos and Hogg didn’t give up and saw out all but one delivery, but the game was lost as soon as Curran left.

For the World Champions it appeared that lessons had been learned. As we have seen they eased past outsiders Zimbabwe and they were their old clinical selves in their two defeats of Australia and in the second Indian game, so they qualified comfortably for the semi-finals. As for the 66-1 outsiders all depended on their two meetings with the Australians. In the first Kapil took 5-43 but that couldn’t prevent Australia making 320 and a feeble chase brought India a 162 run defeat and a wake-up call. So the second semi-finalist from the group was going to be whoever of Australia and India won at Chelmsord. Kapil called correctly and batted and India were all out for 247. All their batsman made a start but only Yashpal Sharma, with 40, scored more than thirty. It wasn’t a bad score, but seemed to be one the Australians ought to be able to overhaul. They couldn’t however and in a woeful batting performance capitulated for just 129. The small ground was packed, mainly with Indian supporters, who colourfully celebrated their team’s unexpected progress into the semi-finals.

In the semi-final India found England waiting for them. The home side had, like West Indies, lost only one of their first round fixtures and had looked impressive in doing so. Needless to say most expected a comfortable passage into the final for Bob Willis’ side. But it wasn’t to be as India won, if not comprehensively, then without too much difficulty. England batted first and got to 69 easily enough but then lost their way and were all out for 213. The key to the Indian success was their support bowling. Kapil had originally intended to look to Mohinder Amarnath’s gentle medium pace and Kirti Azad’s off-spin for six overs each to back up his four main bowlers. As matters turned out both men bowled their full allocation and those 24 overs cost just 55 runs and saw the dismissals of England’s big names, Ian Botham, Mike Gatting and David Gower. When India replied they reached their target with five overs and six wickets to spare, and never looked like falling short. There was a peculiar ending to the game when, after a false start with the Indian supporters swarming onto the pitch with one run still needed, England captain Bob Willis placed all his fielders on the same side of the wicket in order to give them the shortest possible run to the pavilion when the inevitable happened.

Elsewhere West Indies eased past Pakistan in the other semi-final to reach their third consecutive final, and were immediately installed as overwhelming favourites to complete their hat-trick.

One of the results of India reaching the final was that on the morning of the match St John’s Wood Road looked a little like a Mumbai street market. The lack of any expectation that their team would reach the final meant that very few Indian supporters had bothered to buy tickets, and the touts were doing brisk business. In addition, based on the not unreasonable assumption that they were neutrals, those Lord’s bound caucasians found themselves repeatedly approached by smiling Indians looking to buy their tickets from them. Many Indians were left without access to the game’s spiritual home, but there were certainly enough who were successful in their quest to create a superb atmosphere.

Lloyd won the toss and, as he invariably did in those circumstances, invited the Indians to bat first. Gavaskar went early but after that first Kris Srikkanth, the Virender Sehwag of his day, and then Amarnath got India to 90-2 after barely half their allocation of overs. Sadly however at that point Amarnath’s dismissal was quickly followed by Sharma’s, and the Indian innings never regained any impetus, and closed with more than five overs unused, for a disappointing 183.

There was no reason to expect that a batting line-up that began with Greenidge, Haynes, Richards and Lloyd would have any problems in scoring marginally more than three runs per over. The weather was fine and the pitch held no demons. India had simply been unable to wrest control from Garner, Roberts, Holding and Marshall. Gomes had taken a couple of wickets but almost a third of India’s runs came from the dozen overs sent down by him and Richards. Nobody watching had cause to believe that the Indian part-time bowlers, of whom there were four, would prove any more effective.

There was an early shock for West Indies as Balwinder Sandhu, a better cricketer than his career record suggests, pitched a ball so far outside Greenidge’s off stump that he decided to leave it alone, before the crowd was reminded of the bowling of Bob Massie on the same ground 11 years previously, as the ball jagged back in to bowl him. There was no repetition however as Haynes and Greenidge settled in and as the first 50 came up in the thirteenth over it looked like the game would soon be over as a contest. In fact it was to be another thirteen overs before the destination of the cup looked to be decided, but the favourites having collapsed to 76-6 it was the Indian latecomers who were celebrating. Madan Lal, who removed Haynes, Richards and Gomes, was the main tormenter.

Great champions do not lay down and concede defeat easily, and as was to be expected Jeff Dujon and Malcom Marshall tried to rebuild the innings. The pair put on 43, and took West Indies to a stage where, with 65 needed in 18 overs, they could dare to believe the storm had been weathered. At that point a pensive Kapil Dev, the broad smile that had lit up his face for the entire tournament for once not present, brought back Amarnath and his innocuous little dobbers. Dujon played the loosener onto his stumps, and shortly afterwards Marshall misjudged his pace as well. Kapil, smile restored, came back and removed Roberts himself before Amarnath rounded things off with the last wicket, and the rank outsiders had won a historic victory by 43 runs. Amarnath was given the match award for his runs and wickets and the Indians celebrated long into the night. They had outplayed the supposedly invincible West Indies not once but twice and had cantered past the hosts. Their victory may have been many things, but it was no fluke.

A jubilant BCCI immediately made an extra payment of GBP1,150 to each member of the team, and on their return as a team they were given Rs 20 lakhs, at the time the equivalent of GBP112,000, from the proceeds of a musical extravaganza. These were unheard of riches for Indian sportsmen, and the rumours that had been circulating before the team left about a possible “rebel” tour of South Africa immediately ceased. As well as being fine cricketers these Indians were clearly men of principle. It is worth noting that as well as turing down the Rand on offer Amarnath certainly, and very possibly others, made over part of their payments to a fund dedicated to relief work in flood-hit Gujerat.


The final was one of the great oneday occasions, and Kapil catching Richards one of the most memorable moments.

The tournament as a whole wasn’t special though. England’s side was particularly ordinary, and the sight of Tavare opening in these games was downright odd even at the time.

But thanks for writing the piece – a very good read it was too.

Comment by wpdavid | 12:00am BST 31 May 2012

Yes, nice trip down memory lane there Martin.

Comment by chasingthedon | 12:00am BST 31 May 2012

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