25 Years – Memories of a Miracle

June 25, 2008


MadhuBack in the early 80s, cricket had already captured the hearts and minds of impressionable kids like me, my elder brother and our band of boys who had nothing but disdain for those ‘studious’ kids who were more into science clubs and lending libraries.

Hardy Boys, Famous Five and Nancy Drew were considered a conspiracy hatched by mothers to keep kids at home. While other kids went to bed safely tucking their favourite book under the pillow, I hit the bed with my batting pads and gloves on. India Poised!

Luckily, our mother felt better off sending us to the playground in our residential colony rather than spend money on books and a lot more on replacing broken lamp shades and window panes – collateral damage as my brother and I played eleven-a-side ‘Test’ matches at home, where the bowling side got a chance to bat only after the entire opposition was bowled out.

Given my cricketing skills, my brother and his ‘Indian’ team (which again is him calling himself everything from Kapil Dev to Roger Binny to Madan Lal) never took more than 5 overs to clean up my batting order, irrespective of who I was representing the Aussies, the Windies or the Englishmen.

Coming to think of it, he always got to be India and won too, something which I never accepted in the true spirit of the game.

As I dragged myself away from the wicket after trying a left-handed wallop a-la Graham Yallop, I always felt ‘it’s just not cricket.’ I hated ‘India’ though Sunil Gavaskar was my favourite and I was plotting moves to hijack my brother’s Indian team.

That opportunity presented itself when the World Cup came calling to Indian homes in 1983. We still didn’t have a TV at home (we had to wait till 1986) and our parents had already warned us against either pestering them to buy a TV or seeking permission to go over to our neighbour’s place (one of them had a Dyanora Colour TV and the other had a Solidaire) to watch.

PT UshaI still remember going over to their homes to watch PT Usha, MD Valsamma and Charles Borromeo win medals at the Delhi Asiad (1982); and watch grainy images (via Sri Lanka’s Roopavahini) of Maradona crying off the pitch after kicking Brazil’s Falcao and Paolo Rossi winning the Football World Cup for Italy at Espana ’82.

Watching LIVE cricket on TV was still quite an ask though in December 1982, the national broadcaster Doordarshan managed to beam images of Sunil Gavaskar’s India getting drubbed by Pakistan led by Imran Khan and the wily Sarfraz Nawaz. The heavy defeats ensured that I swore off watching Test cricket, much to my mother’s glee.

A badly bruised India went to the West Indies and the only game we remember is an ODI victory at Berbice built on stellar performances by Sunil Gavaskar and Kapil Dev. Selective amnesia, one might say!

Kapil DevAnd, the school reopening after summer holidays and the June monsoon showers disrupting our daily dose of evening cricket at the playground, only added to our woes.

But we seldom missed out on an opportunity to slip and slide across the muddy waters as cricket and clean clothes became unsuspecting victims. Dag acha hai!

The cuts on our knees and elbows had become all too unbearable for our mother and she decided something’s got to be done and yanked us off to our cousin’s place in a neighbouring colony where my grand uncle was recuperating from his illness.

My uncle, being the big daddy of entertainment in the family, got himself shifted out of the hospital as he found the antiseptic environs of the hospital too boring.

A rich and flamboyant businessman from Quilon (70 kms from capital Thiruvananthapuram) with interests in everything from processing cashew to publishing to film production, he used to lug his prized TV and VCR wherever he went, whether it was to our ancestral home in Mavelikara, a village/town 120 km from Thiruvananthapuram or to the capital where he had to be brought down for treatment.

At that time, he had paid a princely sum of Rs 75,000 for a Weston TV and a Hitachi VCR. To put that price in perspective, my father paid Rs 95,000 for our HOME in posh Jawahar Nagar a couple of years before my grand uncle splashed that amount on two gadgets.

Since cricket in the rains was finally banned by my mother, we had no option but to grudgingly visit my uncle every evening, something which we grew fond of as the days passed by. I can’t seem to figure out or remember what helped the turnaround, whether it was the steady supply of apples and grapes since he was a patient or the fact that he refused to allow “Krishi Darshan” (an evening yawn on national TV where all you could see were two men discussing plants and seeds… zz zz) to corrupt and corrode his TV.

My uncle’s Zen-like aversion to farming on TV ensured we got to watch VHS tapes of WWF and ‘Mind Your Language’ for the first time. Tony Atlas, Rocky Johnson (WWE Superstar Rock’s father) and Jesse “The Body” Ventura (former Minnesota Governor) were welcomed with open arms.

Kapil Dev and Syed KirmaniNew heroes were taking their places in the pantheon and Cricket took a backseat with Kapil’s Devils not doing not crowing themselves in much glory, notwithstanding the skipper’s epic 175 not out against Zimbabwe which we couldn’t even follow on radio as the BBC was on strike on that particular day.

When India defeated Australia in what was a do-or-die match, the powers that be at Mandi House (the HQ of Doordarshan) in New Delhi decided that the World Cup might be worth beaming across the nation and decided to broadcast LIVE India’s semifinal against England at Old Trafford.

We watched in rapt attention as Roger Binny bowled Graeme Fowler to set the stage for Kapil Dev to restrict England to just 213 off 60 overs. India’s chase of the World Cup host’s modest target will be remembered for one shot – Yashpal Sharma moving well inside the line of a full-length ball from Bob Willis to flick him over backward square leg for a towering six. A stamp of authority that proclaimed India’s charge into the final.

By then, the situation at my relative’s home had also changed quite a bit. The audience glued to the TV swelled from just my ailing uncle and his grand nephews to our parents and even his team of doctors who could be heard discussing the intricacies of Mohinder Amarnath’s stop-and-start run-up with the same seriousness as they would his illness, a point noted by my uncle too. The diet pattern shifted too with delicious ‘thattu dosa’ (rice pan cakes made at makeshift street side stalls) and chilly chutney fighting for space with Pork Onion and Beef Double Fry from a state-run star hotel.

June 25, 1983. The final on a Saturday! We felt blessed. If only we had known that match scheduling was a fine art driven more by commercial considerations rather than deliverance after hours of prayers by ignorant souls like us.

Kapil DevImages of the Lord’s outfield, the hallowed turf which I still harbour hopes on stepping on barefoot and also at the Wimbledon Centre Court (yeah, you bet!), left us bewildered, to say the least. My aunt, an ace landscaping specialist who won many an award for the best maintained private lawn, wondered how they managed the various shades of grass at the Lord’s.

As is the case when you watch cricket with family, the game tends to take a backseat and India’s stuttering start dampened the mood even more. But Krishnamachari Srikkanth enlivened the evening with his devil-may-care attacking shots and his square drive on his knee remains one stroke which I’ve tried and failed miserably through my humbling cricketing years. Some things are best left to the experts.

Another image that remains etched in memory is the “Rolls Royce of Fast Bowling” Michael Holding steaming in from the boundary ropes. I think he did that extended run-up for two or three deliveries but the fallout, again, was copycat “fast” bowlers who badly gasped for breath by the time we reached our delivery stride.

Balwinder Singh Sandhu and Yashpal SharmaDefending 183 in a World Cup final against the defending champions West Indies was no mean task, a prognosis that the team of doctors who had gathered to both watch the Final and check on my uncle had concurred without much dispute. But hope springs eternal and when Balwinder Singh Sandhu scalped Gordon Greenidge shouldering arms to what turned out to be a prodigious inswinging delivery, we all smelt something. I don’t think Sandhu could ever have reproduced that magic ball, something which the man who’s now a reputed coach has admitted many a time.

But when Viv Richards walked out with his traditional gum-chewing swagger and started smashing and caressing the ball to all corners of the park, we knew it was Game On. Or, was it Game Over? But skipper Kapil Dev had other plans running yards and yards towards the mid-wicket boundary to pouch a Richards’ skier which took forever to come down.

Soon the wickets started disappearing as fast as the hot ‘thattu dosas’ and the pork and beef that made their appearance at the appointed time and we all knew we were witnessing history being made.

When Amarnath trapped Holding leg before, we didn’t know what to do. Though not together, we all had watched in despair as India lost 7-1 to Pakistan in Hockey at the Delhi Asiad. We knew how a defeat could scar a nation’s conscience and the national sport forever.

Balwinder Singh Sandhu and Kapil DevBut the victory against the mighty Windies on June 25, 1983 headlined “MIRACLE AT LORD’S” laid to rest the ghost of that Hockey defeat, and as some analysts say, the game itself.

A new religion called Cricket was born that day. But life and the game are great levelers. My uncle, a man who celebrated life, died a month later.

Comments

hey Madhu,

Nice blog! being only a toddler, i can only lay claim to stories of India’s grandeur in cricket, passed down by older cousins and elders in the family. And for a long time, mistook the revelry for just another regular family gatherings! But, am glad that when i look back, can still proudly say that i was there, maybe in spirit albeit, but what the heck!!!

Posted by cyclops | Report as abusive
 

You’ve written it really well Madhu! Since reading it, i’m really nostalgic (even though u’re another generation!!!*grin*)
I’m not cricket fan! Yeah, I was perhaps the only one around who wasn’t following the IPL matches. Nevertheless I enjoyed reading your blog. P.S: I’d forgotten abt Solidaire and Dyanora!!

 

Great post.. keep writing.. not sure if you remmebr watching the Helsinki World Championship and coming home in the middle of the night….

Posted by Ravi | Report as abusive
 

Good one! Brought back a lot of memories.

Posted by Sandeep | Report as abusive
 

Awesome post and yes it brought back a lot of memories of our ‘cricketing’ days!

Posted by Rajesh | Report as abusive
 

Gud post…Keep writing…And thanx for bringing back the gud memories ….

Posted by Rajkumar | Report as abusive
 

Madhu

That was a wonderfull memory

Which took me back to the 8o’s

Good Stuff , i didnt knew that your writing skills are too brilliant

Cheers to your writing and God Bless

Cheers to CRICKET which made you share this wonderfull memory with us…

Posted by Vijay Vora | Report as abusive
 

Hai Madh,

Done a good job, went back to the old memories

Posted by Rajeev Nair | Report as abusive
 

Gr8 post…and truly amazed at your recall of events. Keep writing.

 

Madhu,

Great post, The blog took us to old good days. Keep writing

Posted by Saju | Report as abusive
 

I was only 3 when Miracle at Lord’s happened. Though I was too young to remember the event, your blog has made it only easy to imagine the kind of excitement it must have generated quarter of a century ago! And thank you for that!

Posted by Aravind | Report as abusive
 

Madhu,

Amazing piece of write up … The details in the blog surprised me …. Keep blogging !

Posted by Vivek | Report as abusive
 

Wow what a post, loved it great use of prose and memories, still so clear and sharp. I was toddler than so dunno what it was like..but am sure must h been lot of excitmeent.

Posted by ONP | Report as abusive
 

The write up is all over. Suddenly jumps from Lords to wimbledon. Did not devote much to the cricket that matters especially on the semi against england where especially sandeep patil blasted six fours off bob willis. I remember seeing the final as my neighbour was a big cricket fan and i was only in the 1st grade. Remember we finish at 183 all out and greenidge and haynes started really well. I don’t remember sandhus absolute beauty of an incutter that was left alone by greenidge which took his off stump. certainly our tv did not cost 75000. may be he was talking about a color tv. could have written it better.

Posted by vivekanandan | Report as abusive
 

Hi Vivekanandan,

Tks for the feedback. I’ll just make a few clarifications.

Sandeep Patil’s six fours in an over off Bob Willis was in a Test match at Old Trafford and not the semifinals of the Prudential World Cup.

http://content-www.cricinfo.com/india/co ntent/player/32283.html

Also, I’m surprised you don’t remember Greenidge’s dismissal by Sandhu.

http://content-usa.cricinfo.com/magazine  /content/story/355541.html

As far as the cost of that TV and VCR goes, you are right. It was a Colour TV and since it was bought much before state firms like KELTRON started mass-producing Television sets, it did cost quite a bomb.

And finally, I’m no expert on cricket to give a detailed match report 25 years after the win. It was only an attempt to refresh memories associated with the game and way of life then, which were of a very personal nature.

But, keep the feedbacks coming.

 

Yashpal Sharma’s six was inneed a stamp of authority o INdia’s domination…..

cheers Maza aaya

Posted by Mikhail | Report as abusive
 

well done.. friend…well constructed article. Has a genuine feel about it.. which many articles fail to create.. keep it going..

Posted by raghu krishnan | Report as abusive
 

Uncanny as it is, but even my brother, always got to play the Indian team – eleven times before I got a chance to hold the bat! We still play the same test games whenever home, and am still not India! :-) Super nostalgic post! Cheers!

Posted by rishabh ratnu | Report as abusive
 

Madhu,
The rush of memories was too much to hold back….this was the win that kickstarted many aspiring kapil’s,srikkanth’s and sunil gavaskars of our generation,the popularity cricket got in india after Lords 83 has not been surpaseed…..It was indeed a gr8 effort by you to remember and post this blog.

Posted by Itty | Report as abusive
 

Attaboy. Good work. Keep it up.

Posted by Prasad Bhaskar | Report as abusive
 

Since its ur blog so let me talk about some of the rumours
1) the asiad hockey final in 82 was fixed by Indira Gandhi.
2) Kapil Dev was the greatest fixer of India…ask tendulkar, prabhakar, sidhu, Azhar….etc etc etc
3) Gavaskar was a good cricketer but was useless captain….killed the game by pushing for draws.

people infact started loving the game after his retirement coz then God aka tendulkar made his debut and smashed all the pakis in their stinking butt.

this blog brought back the memories of good old DD…..other than krishi darshn i still remember watching every sunday Heman, Zigma, Indradhnush, Stone boy and ofcourse before the movie in the evening…Gumshuda talash kendra , Nai kotwali, Daryaganj blah blah blah.

ohh BTW i had a weston TV…something which still works till date

Posted by Sourabh Daga | Report as abusive
 

Good inswinger to our “g”olden times

 

good one madhu keep writing

Posted by machu | Report as abusive
 

Hey Madhu,
You put it down just the way it was back in our golden years.Great memories indeed.

Posted by Jamy | Report as abusive
 

Nice one Madhu…it is amazing cricketing memories of “those days” in India produces literature-like stuff!

 

Lovely blog. Yes, the memories are beautiful of those days. The team of the ’80s had a great run ending in the 1987 WC where they led the round robin group but lost to England in the SF. In 1983, color TV had just come to Pondicherry, where I lived, but since there was no relaying station, I missed watching the final live. But my father stayed up all night and listened to the commentary, and completely surprised me with the home truth that the Windies were bowled out for 140, when I awoke next morning! There couldn’t have been a more delirious moment. Smokin’ Cheeka (Srikkanth) was my favorite, his sniffin’ walks to square leg, his cheetah-like stance and, of course, his ferocious hits made him a real treat to watch.

Posted by Sai Prakash | Report as abusive
 

Dude:

With respect to paragraph #3, I would call the batter “gaaji kaara munuswami”…..

Bapcha

 

I watched the 1983 finals [on a black & white Solidaire] and Roger Binny is not a name I remember……

Bapcha

 

Nice one Madhu. I was 17 and with my dad in the Eastern Malaysian state of Sabah, Where i was taken for Rehabilitation for my wrong doings .. (nalla Nadathipinu). It was a daily routine to listen to the 6.45 AM (Malaysian Time)BBC sports round up. I was eagerly following as we beat Zimbabwe. As I heard the news I didn’t know what to do. Just went inside the room so to stay away from dads eyes and jumped up n down in ecstasy. My dad didn’t know whats cricket then? As soon as my dad left for school at 7.00 got ready and ran to the public library , waited for the 8’0 clock to let the door open and grabbed the news paper. As i read couldn’t control my emotion and was the first time i ever cried in happiness. Tears were flowing down the cheeks. Yea.. you are true… Kapil and his men turned this game of elites into commoner game.. I still cant forget that day… And to end it My Dad now a days wont miss a single game… Kudos to Kapil and his men

Posted by Sony | Report as abusive
 

Congrates Madhu, U have used Pen like Brush!
What a memory,& what a Cricket Diwangi!
I thank whoever thought of creating Blogs!
Then it was just the beginning of Color TV &
now it is beginning of Blogs!
Rashmikant Chitre.

 

nice write up. Infact we had rented Sandhu’s flat when in Mumbai and this is what Sandhu had to say over a few sips of whiskey…”Kapil might have taken 400 wickets, but the whole nation remembers just one delivery that I bowled to Greenidge on June 25th 1983″

Posted by Sunil | Report as abusive
 

amazing ! took me back 20 odd years and now I dont want to come back!

Posted by Prakash Moorthy | Report as abusive
 

Sir,
Am not much of a sports lover and can hardly call myself a cricket fanatic, but the way your piece was wrapped around the game its rise along with the dynamics of the country, countrymen and esp the kids it was worth reading. also i remember that once you had explained a similar thing to me at iimc.

quite an interesting read.

Posted by rishi | Report as abusive
 

Hi Madhu,
It was indeed down memory lane!Definitely brought me back to the days in my in-laws’ house where we had a Keltron T V and watched the World cup(and the box like Hitachi VCR!)
Latha

Posted by Latha | Report as abusive
 

Madhu…. wonderful notes.
even now i remember going to my friend’s house to watch the color Olympics and Asiad… and again on sundays to watch GIANT ROBOT on a color screen.

Keep them comin’

Posted by Vinu | Report as abusive
 

Good peice of work ! Brings back loads of memories. Keep on writing. God Bless.

Posted by SimBalu | Report as abusive
 

Hi Madhu

Nicely crafted and well written. Brings back the good old days of Jawahar Nagar. Keep writing:-)

 

Good one,,brought back lots of memories..i was not lucky enough to watch the final live but followed the worldseries in Aus and still rememenber Shastri’s Audi feat. Me and my brother too played 11 a side…and it was fun playing alongside you during KLA days.

 

Hi Madhu,
Article well written
Took back to Golden and olden days

Posted by Shivan | Report as abusive
 

Good job, we were fanatic about playing cricket – lucky that we didnt lose bearings due to that!! Playing with the car tire as wicket on E Street, fighting over captaincy and not talking to each other for more than a decade, playing 2 day matches as school kids with Panikker’s Lane team, organizing tennis ball tournaments and what not!! Nice journey into the past :)

Posted by Santhosh | Report as abusive
 

Madhu,very well written. It’s always nice to read such nostalgic articles.While reading this i was just remembering my childhood days.Playing with our cousins and going to our tharavadu etc..GOOD OLD MEMORIES.Thank u so much for giving a feast to my mind.Keep it up and keep writing such good blogs.

 

Madhu,
Great job.Keep it up.While mentioning about your cricket in Jawahar Nagar, you forgot to mention about the car tyre which you used as wicket while playing on the road near your house.You were not supposed to hit everywhere and off side was a slope and you had to remove the tyre everytime a vehicle came.Do you remember?

Posted by Prasad.M | Report as abusive
 

Yes Prasad, who can forget those days!! Dr CR Soman capturing some of our action. BTW, we’d perfected the square cut over point much before the world started feting Sehwag’s uppish shots that cleared the boundary.

 

Madhu,

You won’t believe probably, I was just doing a google on your name, knowing that you have been writing for reuters now a days and I saw this exciting post. It truly is well narrated and really took me back to those old days. Keep writing buddy and keep in touch.

Reghu

Posted by Reghu(pathi) | Report as abusive
 

Madhu,
Great post… Brings back all the excitement…. How can we forget those days..

I did enjoy playing at the Jawahar Nagar ground. Great Fun.. Those were the days..

Keep writing..

Regards,
Cyriac

Posted by Cyriac | Report as abusive
 

Madhu,
This was truly wonderful. The reference is not just to the writing part. For small-town guys like me who had only heard of something called `television’ back in 1983 it is a matter of unspeakable wonder that there were guys like you who had actually seen the India-West Indies Finals LIVE, been part of Indian history REAL-TIME. Good that you chose to reveal this grand feat of yours (not a least bit of sarcasm intended) this late and not when we were together in college. For, I could have seriously burnt you with my envy.
Though you made me feel a lot unlucky, the gum-chewing, tongue-in-cheek swagger with which you wrote the piece deserves a round of applause, a standing ovation.

Ayyappan

Posted by Ayyappan | Report as abusive
 

Madhu,
Took me back to those days when we used to play cricket in kowdiar.
And, u write well. keep it up.

Love
Balu

Posted by Baalu | Report as abusive
 

Yep Madhu,
Having just learnt the rules of the new game Cricket a 2 years ago I was also fortunate to see the game in the neighborhood TV
Thgh it was soon to be followed up by the WI tour of India where the revenge was lethal ( Thanks to our Work Exp teacher Varghese T Francis who used to switch on the TV as a part of intro to Electronics or for him to see the match )
The Country’s addiction to the game never diminished post that victory.
Praying for Dhoni’s men to repeat the same feat..

Posted by Shivan73 | Report as abusive
 

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