I was barely born but Indian Cricket came of age in 1983 when Kapil Dev’s Indians in White captured the Ggreen cricket turf at England. Kabir Khan’s stupendous effort on playing out the euphoria of the India’s dream run of the 1983 Cricket World Cup on the silver screen through his epic ‘83 needs a standing ovation from the famous Lord’s gallery. Keeping aside some of the melodrama in the screenplay to cater to the audience of these times, the effort to rekindle the glory of India's greatest sports achievements on silverscreen is the finest in its genre.
For me, Cricket happened with the famous Audi car and the lap of victory by the Indian team at the Melbourne Cricket Ground in 1985. This was when my father bought us the Sony Color TV and watching a day-night match was an out of the world experience. I saw my elder cousins, who were much into cricket going berserk at the India-Pakistan final, which culminated in India being crowned the Champion of Champions at the Benson & Hedges World Championship of Cricket at MCG on 10 March 1985.
My interest in Cricket developed after watching the histrionics on the field and the madness of cricketing fans. Interest culminated into passion in the India-Pak final at the Austral-Asia Cup at Sharjah in 1986 when the famous last ball six of Javed Miandad rocketed the charisma of cricket in the sub-continent into a new orbit. In 1987, when India hosted the Reliance World Cup, little did I know that West Indies is a two time world champion and India is the reigning champion of World Cricket. I was quickly raking in the who's who of green turf – Gavaskar, Lloyd, Border, Hadlee, Richards, Imran, Marshall, Crowe and the "Neil Armstrong" of Indian cricket, Kapil Dev Ramlal Nikhanj.
During those years, one of my cousins used to read the famous hindi cricket magazine, Cricket Samrat. The content was full of scores of every match played anywhere across the world. Cricket Samrat and the english magazine Sports Star found a more important place in my school bag. Accompanying these magazines in my school bag was a mono-headphone wired transistor that my father had bought for me then. This headphone was wired to my ear as I was happy sitting in the last bench of class and became the score keeper for cricket as far as my classmates were concerned. Few of my teachers were aware, as I became a score broadcasted in between classes and during breaks for them as well.
A bit on Radio Cricket Commentary...
...and the story of my tryst with Cricket continues
With limited access to information in those days, it was my destiny with Bombay in the late nineties that I got to hear stories from my elder college mates and friends who had watched the 1983 drama unfold on television screens live. I was all ears as they discussed the Royal Tunbridge Wells game, the famous 175 by Kapil Dev and Mohinder 'Jimmy' Amarnath’s innings.
One fine day, Star Sports broadcast the recording of the 1983 final at Lord’s. I welcomed myself to the world of real cricket as I saw the Indian heroes’ envelope world of cricket in their whites. Kabir Khan’s ’83 has done just that, nearly 4 decades later.
Words fall short to describe the build up to the ‘83 final, the team’s camaraderie, the enactment of Jimmy Amarnath, Sandeep Patil, Srikanth, the late Yashpal Sharma and each other member of this team, and of course the greatness of the legend, Kapil Dev. I really wish I had a better understanding of the game when history happened and I could become a part of this great Indian celebration. Director Kabir Khan has weaved magic. The excitement is such that I am sitting at the Lord’s and watching the game unfold live! Kabir Khan’s ’83 falls into the same league as “Remember the Titans”, “Moneyball” and “We Are Marshall”.
What Cricket did to my wonder years in Bohrawadi...Cricket gave me one of the biggest assets in life - My "Team Sonnet". In those days in Udaipur, there used to be term called “Humari Team“ - a group of friend who either lived in same area or studied in the same school and almost of same age. Team used to be together always wether it was the school recess, social events, Sunday matches or picnic. Team was a bond. Which later got converted into Clubs as we all grew up.
Cricket for us was playing in Bohrawadi area where most of the Team lived in those days - so we had named the by-lanes of Bohrawadi after SCG, MCG and the middle garden of Bastiram as Eden Gardens. We never had the privillage of a drinks trolley but it was Pandit’s samosa and Pratap’s kulfi, which used to be our lunch and tea time.
Raj Sports was our one-stop-shop to buy all cricketing gear; we made our own kits and every Sunday were matches at Gandhi Ground, which was the Lord's of Udaipur.
While watching '83…if Kabir Khan's protagonists acted out legends on screen, I got to thinking who in my Sonnet are the ones to replicate the '83 squad of Kapil..Parvez (Kapil); Feroz (Jimmy Amarnath); Mehdi (Sandeep Patil); Asrar (Balvinder Sandhu); Sarfraz (Ravi Shastri); Safu (Sunny Gavaskar); Aftab (Kirti Azad); Arif (Roger Binny); Abbas (Syed Kirmani); Hussaini (Dilip Vengsarkar); Shabbar (Srikant); Chinu (Madan Lal); Imtiyaz (Sunil Valson) and last but not the least, our Late Challu (Yashpal Sharma). I guess i would happily paly the role of the team Manager Man Singh.
I am lucky to have read Straight from the Heart, the autobiography of Kapil Dev. As this article unfolds, I am on the radio listening to Australia taming the Poms – old habits die hard!