The Indian contribution in West Indies' WT20 triumph

Communication skills are in Vikram’s genes. Like his illustrious father, P. R. Man Singh (manager of the victorious Indian team in the 1983 World Cup), he is always to the point. He lived up to the expectations as liaison officer of the West Indies team which was at war with its cricket board.

Vikram Man Singh (left) took care of West Indies' needs in the World Twenty20 as its liaison manager.   -  Special Arrangement

Thirty-three years ago P. R. Man Singh was the manager of the victorious Indian team in the 1983 World Cup. His son Vikram Man Singh, who is an executive member of the Hyderabad Cricket Association (HCA), was the liaison manager of the Darren Sammy-led victorious West Indian team in the recent World Twenty20.

His best souvenirs of the tournament were the jersey, which captain Darren Sammy wore in the final and the bat with which Andre Fletcher hit a match-winning 84 against Sri Lanka. Both the keepsakes have been autographed.

Communication skills are in Vikram’s genes. Like his illustrious father, he is always to the point. He lived up to the expectations as liaison officer of the West Indies team which was at war with its cricket board.

What was the secret of West Indies’ success in the World T20? “Honestly, there were early apprehensions when I joined the team, which is quite natural, for not many of them know me personally. But, once I got into the specifics of the job, they were in the comfort zone as I was aware of what exactly they needed,” recalls Vikram.

‘WINDIES MANAGER LEWIS WAS UNSUNG HERO OF THE CAMPAIGN’

The Hyderabadi credited the Windies manager Rawl Lewis for the way he handled the team. “He was the unsung hero of Windies' campaign on his first assignment as manager. Mind you, he was also a WICB official and struck a great balance between the players and the board. Hats off to him, my job was made easier. From getting the jerseys on time (they were originally supposed to come from Spain) to seeing that every aspect of the tour was in place, he has done a great job,” says Vikram.

But was there not a hint that the Windies players were disenchanted with the WICB because of the financial issues? “No. They never discussed about that in public. And, as officials of the team, we too steered clear of that and focussed on what we had to do. Some of my jobs might look trivial, like providing local SIM cards to let the players stay in touch with their family members back home, some of the players’ bats needed attention and some minor medical issues etc. But, very important was to give a re-assuring touch to the players that someone was there always to take care of the non-cricketing issues on such an important tour,” explains Vikram.

'GAYLE'S TON AGAINST ENGLAND BOOSTED THE TEAM'

When did Windies get the feeling that it could be a force to reckon with? “Well, after the loss to India in the warm-up game, they played against Australia and once they won that game, suddenly things looked different in the dressing room. Once Gayle’s ton helped them drub England, the mood was upbeat and most importantly the urge to win and prove a point or two was what kept them motivated in each game and they were aware of the not-so-good times in international cricket in recent times,” says Vikram.

On Clive Lloyd’s role in the team, Vikram says, “In his capacity as the chairman of the selection committee, he was always there but at the same time keeping a distance to avoid the impression of being overbearing. And, given his experience and reputation, he drilled the importance of putting up a performance which would lift the image of the sport back home.

“When I asked him about how he got the best from the team despite the row with the WICB, Lloyd told me he stressed the importance of the trust factor with the players,” Vikram adds.

‘WATCHING WI BEAT INDIA WAS DIFFICULT’

It was a bit difficult for Vikram, sitting in the West Indies dressing room and watch the team beat India in the semifinal. “Honestly, my heart was with India, but my professional commitment also made me feel for the Windies,” Vkram recalls.

“I tell you there were never any inhibitions even when the asking rate was around 13-plus an over in chasing targets. They always felt confident,” he adds.

Reminiscing on the final, where the Caribbeans beat England at the Eden Gardens, Vikram says: “In fact, I didn’t watch the first two of the four sixes of Carlos Brathwaite from the box, but soon I was in the balcony to gauge the feeling of the players. But, soon the scenes in the dressing room were unbelievable.”

“Then, I realised how my father (P. R. Man Singh) would have felt when India won the 1983 World Cup. I feel great that I could soak in the atmosphere of a World Cup win and this I never imagined. Thank the HCA and the BCCI for the huge opportunity,” he says.

“One of the high points of my assignment was when the great Clive Lloyd and Sammy invited me for a lunch before the team left. Fortunately, Lloyd knew about my background and was specifically referring to our Hyderabad Blues team which toured the Windies in the 70s quite a few times,” says Vikram.

“Even Windies coach Phil Simmons surprised me when he said his first big first-class game was against the Blues during one of its visits,” he said with a big smile before going off to do his duty as media manager of the HCA for the on-going IPL matches.

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