Anshuman Gaekwad talks about India's lack of preparation in 1975 and 1979 World Cups

Anshuman Gaekwad, who played in the 1975 and 1979 World Cups, says India was merely going through the motions.

We lost to Sri Lanka in 1979, and I think they had players for the one-day format of the game, says Anshuman Gaekwad (left).   -  P. V. Sivakumar

There is nothing great to talk about regarding the 1975 World Cup. It was my first tour abroad with the Indian team, so I was excited, and so were the others. There was hype around the Indian team going for the World Cup. There was no planning or discussion about the matches. It was like playing a Test match. There was no talk about increasing the run rate, etc.

The Wills Trophy and the Deodhar Trophy are okay, but the World Cup was an international event and in England. There was grass on the pitch and that made it lively. It made life difficult for all of us. England was well-equipped. They knew how to play and they just blasted us in the opening game at Lord’s.

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We beat East Africa, but they were struggling anyway. We just played the matches; we were going through the motions. The English summer was good and the best part of it was that although we did not qualify for the semifinals, we were asked to stay back till the final. The final was a brilliant match, very competitive. The World Cup final said a lot about what cricket is all about.

Four years later, we played the West Indies at Edgbaston. And they were bowling quick... Andy Roberts, Michael Holding, Joel Garner and Colin Croft. Frankly, we were clueless facing them. Vishy (Gundappa Viswanath) and Sunil (Gavaskar) were a different class altogether. Jimmy (Mohinder Amarnath) and a few others could manage somehow.

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The West Indies fielding arrangement was like it was for a Test match – three slips and a gully. I played one shot between third slip and gully and took off for a run, but (Collis) King took a catch, diving from third to almost fourth slip. The West Indies was a brilliant batting and bowling side; we were like minnows.

Vishy was brilliant. I have always maintained this: Vishy was a great batsman on a difficult track or against difficult bowling. The shots he played against them were amazing.

We lost to Sri Lanka, too, and I think they had players for the one-day format of the game. Venkat (S. Venkataraghavan) was the captain and he went to bat at No. 10. We knew we were losing and we also knew the way he (Venkat) was going to react. When the last wicket fell, nearly the entire team was in the washroom just to avoid Venkat’s firing. He was a terror. So we gave him that good 5-10 minutes to cool down. We had to listen to him anyway. The wicket was good and we should have scored the runs. We were definitely a better side and losing to Sri Lanka was not acceptable.

Anshuman Gaekwad played in the 1975 and 1979 World Cups.

As told to G. Viswanath.

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