The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) did not have funds even to host the customary, farewell dinner to the Kapil Dev-led Indian team for the 1983 World Cup.
Even worse, the team was charged about Rs. 4,000 for excess baggage at the Sahar Airport in Mumbai as the four cricket kits for Kapil, Mohinder Amarnath, Madan Lal and Kirti Azad (all already in England playing County cricket) had to be taken by the manager!
And, when the Indian team scripted history shocking two-time champion, West Indies, in the final at Lords then, the winner’s purse was 20,000 Pounds (now it is $4 million).
Significantly, the BCCI had to raise funds for the winning team, requesting the legendary singer, Lata Mangeshkar, to perform in a concert in Delhi. From that gate money, each member got about Rs. 1 lakh.
“That was the price for winning the World Cup 36 years ago”, says P. R. Man Singh, manager of the victorious team, with a big smile.
“The choice was between me and Hanumant Singh for the manager’s post for the tour of West Indies and the 1983 World Cup and he preferred to tour West Indies,” says Man Singh.
“Then, I was definitely disappointed for my dream was to be a manager for a full tour and it is remains unfulfilled till now. But, see the destiny and I happened to be the winning team manager soon,” he says with a sense of pride.
“But, again when the time came for World Cup team manager’s slot, there was opposition to me being there and a BCCI special general meeting was convened in Delhi and I won a 15-13 verdict against Niranjan Shah in voting to go to World Cup,” he says reminding that he was the ‘elected manager’.
“Well, the attitude amongst the cricketing fraternity, including in the BCCI then, was that the tour would be more like a holiday with no chance at all for the Indian team,” says Man Singh. “There could be a reason for this as India won only one match (against East Africa) in the previous two editions,” he added.
Then, what was the gut feeling for you ? “I tell you, my father (Ram Singh Agarwal) was the only one who repeatedly said then that India would win the World Cup. He even suggested to the staff in our shop to keep a showcase ready for the World Cup. Call it prophecy or anything else!,” says Man Singh.
“So, I was also feeling that with a little bit of luck we can at least reach semifinal. And, then we went on to win the Cup too,” he said.
Interestingly, Man Singh donned the multiple role of manager, tour selection committee chairman and handling all the training and travel schedules which are now taken care off by so many support staff.
And, to cap it all, the Indian team had no coach!
“It was tough on occasions but I enjoyed every bit of my role as fortunately I knew all the players from their under-19 days and many of them having played in the Ranji Trophy and the Moin-ud-Dowla Gold Cup in Hyderabad,” Man Singh said.
“At the start of the tour, I made it to clear to the team that I would not behave like a BCCI official but as a big-brother and urged them to treat me like the younger brother. That worked beautifully,” says Man Singh.
“I must confess, the team had two groups and it was really tough to handle the egos of big guns. Mercifully, things never went out of control, maybe because of my administrative experience and being a witness to their evolution into world-class cricketers gave me the confidence to handle delicate issues with ease,” he says.
On India’s chances in the 2019 World Cup, Man Singh says that they have as a good chance say as England, Australia, South Africa. “The dark horse can be Pakistan,” he added.
“Somehow, I am surprised why so much of an issue is being made about No. 4 slot. For my thinking is what is the use of a No.4 if he goes out to bat in the 40th over of the innings. So, when there is flexibility, let us make optimum use of it,” he said.
“I personally think, Dhoni will make a bigger impact than even Ravi Shastri as the coach in this World Cup because of his experience and cricketing intelligence,” he says.
“Whatever cricket is in India today is purely because of 1983 World Cup victory. Firstly, semifinal and final were telecast live on Doordarshan TV. Media gave the fillip too and the epic triumph spread like hell all over the country When a person like Sachin Tendulkar says after seeing that win, he wanted to play cricket and be a member of World Cup winning team, it shows what kind of impact it had,” he explained.
“Well, when Indian won in 2011, it had played enough of one-day cricket unlike in 1983 when we had limited exposure to the format and that’s what makes it so special,” concluded Man Singh.
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