Class of 1983 to celebrate with quiet dinner at Kapil Dev’s residence

Team 1983 Current Team (Image: X)

The Class Of 1983 will assemble tonight in New Delhi at Kapil Dev’s residence for a quiet dinner. Kaps, as old-timers address the charismatic captain of the World Cup triumph on June 25, 1983, has ensured he leads, even now, when it comes to keeping his flock together. Forty-one years after India created history at Lord’s in the Prudential World Cup final, most of the players still keep in touch.

“We are in touch, not just on a Whatsapp group,” said Madan Lal in an exclusive chat with RevSpprtz.  “We try and meet at least once a year. It’s very emotional for us even today.” Stories of what the team did in 1983 have been written, rewritten and a movie made on it as well. Yet, for old-timers like Madan, Kirti Azad, Sunil Valson and a few others, the special dinner will be a chance to rewind, reminisce and recollect.

“It was magical, we love every moment of it even now,” said Madan, who, now in his 70s, still follows cricket with the same passion. Making any comparison with the triumph in 1983 and the journey of Team India at the ongoing ICC 20 World Cup, though, may be fundamentally flawed.

Yet, even before India had thumped Australia in St Lucia in a Super 8 match on Monday night, Madan was quick to make comparisons between then and now. “If you go through the scorecards from 1983 and what India are doing in this World Cup, there are a lot of similarities,” he said. “To me, what has stood out is not only individuals performing. This is not about individual wins. The win in 1983 will always remain historic. We did it first, together.

“We had players who chipped in like Kapil Paaji, Roger (Binny), Jimmy (Mohinder Amarnath), our dashing Kirti (Azad) and Balli (Balwinder Sandhu).”

To have lost one team member, Yashpal Sharma, was a shock to all, for he was a cricketer who was super-fit and never indulged in excesses. During the Covid-19 pandemic as well, when all hell broke loose, the 1983 squad kept in touch. In November last year, when India hosted the ICC ODI World Cup, the Class of 1983 had assembled at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in New Delhi. “We had returned from England and stayed there in 1983, so that’s a place which is a part of our lives,” said Madan.

Image: X

Does he wish for anything now? “Without being selfish, I think the BCCI should announce June 25 as Cricket Day in India, as that dates resonates,” he said. “I know we have won the 2011 World Cup as well, but one can never forget the first win. If the Athletics Federation of India can call August 7 as Javelin Day, why not June 25 as Cricket Day?”  Madan also felt that the BCCI, now blessed with sufficient funds, should honour cricketers from 1983 as not all are doing extremely well financially compared to modern-day cricketers who rake in big bucks from the IPL and even domestic cricket.

Valson, so used to the 12th man tag, has also come from Dehradun to attend the dinner tonight. He has been asked many times how it felt to not have been in the playing 11, but he does not bear any grudges. “For me, it’s about the team winning in 1983 and that’s why we celebrate even today, a quiet dinner and chat,” said Valson. “We have been meeting whenever possible, the whole idea is to stay together.”

Valson watches cricket closely, but keeps his counsel. “We have far too many experts today, so I am happy to just be a fan and watch the stuff being produced,” he said. “Yes, Team India doing well in the T20 World Cup is amazing. We believed in ourselves in 1983 and we believe in this team as well in 2024.”

Kirti, one of the most outspoken cricketers of his time, is now a Member of Parliament from Bardhaman-Durgapur, having contested and won on a TMC ticket recently. Today, Kirti is not talking about funds for himself from the BCCI, but of Bengal’s needs.

The last question to Madan dealt with pressure, and his response was brutally honest. “Every match, there is pressure,” he said. “I knew if I had not performed in 1983, I would also have been dropped.” Getting rid of Sir Vivian Richards, courtesy that unforgettable catch from Kapil, is talked about even today. The story goes that Madan actually pleaded with Kapil to hand him the ball so that he could have a go at Richards. That was the Josh [spirit] from these cricketers in 1983. They may have aged, but the memories remain evergreen.

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