Following the format of six “deliveries” each of which raises a specific point of interest, the Tooting Trumpet watches not a day’s cricket, but documentaries on previous World Cups.
Ball One – Celebrations are muted, sometimes non-existent whether for a wicket or to mark a century. Team-mates are notably absent from the frame when a bat is lifted, often turning away, wrapped in thought about their own responsibilities. And, of course, there’s not high-five to be seen. I have no problem with big celebrations and enjoy Monty going bonkers after a Number 11 misses a straight one as much as anyone, but the belief that team-spirit needs all the bum-taps, embraces and other scenes reminiscent of the films of the late Derek Jarman, is shown up for the fallacy it surely is. These cricketers look like professionals going about their work – not kids in a playground in constant need of affirmation for good behaviour.
Ball Two – Michael Holding, off a short run, gets one to lift from just short of a length and hits Graeme Wood on his helmeted head. Apparently unconscious, Wood leaves the field on a stretcher as David Hookes passes him on his way into the middle. No speed gun then, but Holding looked very sharp indeed and could bowl as many bouncers as he liked. It is almost impossible to believe that the likes of Matthew Hayden and Ricky Ponting could have played the way they did with 1983’s equipment under 1983’s rules. While nobody likes to see a man carried from the field of play, batting became much easier when bouncers became so rare – for the want of real pace bowling and the application of restrictive playing conditions. The Australian batting certainly folded pretty quickly to the West Indian attack after Holding’s drawing of blood.
Ball Three – While the Trumpet was at Old Trafford watching England cruise to a win over Pakistan, the PA updated us with events at Tunbridge Wells, where India were collapsing to minnows Zimbabwe, before Kapil Dev launched a ferocious attack that drew applause from the Manchester crowd with every announcement. His score climbed to (at that time) an unthinkable 175 and the shock was averted. Other teams knew India had a matchwinner – and, more importantly, so did India.
Ball Four – In the semi-final, Zaheer Abbas is bowling some very gentle off-breaks to King Viv and it appears every bit as big a mismatch as it sounds. Tony Lewis is on the mic as Viv hammers the ball to long on – “It’s in the air… It’s still in the air” – as the camera pans over the crowd. The Welshman with the slightly off-putting grin wouldn’t be anyone’s favourite commentator, but for five seconds, he was perfect.
Ball Five – For the World Cup semi-final, the Old Trafford pitch is barely distinguishable from the rest of the square or even the outfield. Were pitches really that green in those days? It’s not my recollection, but the fact that England’s top score was just 33 and that they took all 60 overs to get 213 suggests that batting wasn’t easy – at least until Yashpal Sharma and Sandeep Patil charged for the line and India could start planning for the final.
Ball Six – On a Lord’s pitch with pace and bounce, 183 was probably all India could expect against a fierce West Indian bowling attack (just Roberts, Garner, Marshall and Holding – lest we forget). So India’s task at the halfway mark hadn’t really changed – they had to bowl West Indies out cheaply to win the Cup. Thanks to a superb running catch from Kapil Dev that got rid of King Viv and some uncharacteristically uncommitted batting from the strongest line-up in world cricket, that’s what India did. It was India’s second win over the West Indies in the tournament, their first World Cup and a moment at which one could say without fear of contradiction, that cricket would never be the same again.
If you have any thoughts on or memories of the 1983 World Cup, please comment below.
The Tooting Trumpet, whom you can often find at Testmatchsofa.com and on Twitter at @garynaylor999 and @Fakeadil.