A dozen years after Australia and England played the first ODI, in Melbourne, it appeared as if the shorter version of the game had truly arrived.
The Caribbean flavour naturally lent itself to the tapestry of the new form of the game, particularly through the scintillating stroke-play of West Indian skipper Clive Lloyd in the 1975 final and Viv Richards in the 1979 final. The game quickly got its ‘star’ status.
Television serials like Star Trek, Planet of the Apes, Wonder Woman, Shark Movies and Scooby-Doo dominated popular culture in the 1970s, and soccer gained a foothold in the USA, but the Commonwealth nations embraced a legacy left by the British and gave limited-over cricket a big thumbs-up for its entertainment value.
It received a shot in the arm when the Indian team, dubbed ‘Kapil’s Devils’, marched to a sensational World Cup triumph at Lord’s. It set off a belief among the other teams that they, too, can dream of winning cricket’s showpiece event.
When eight teams, including Sri Lanka, which was given full membership of the ICC in July 1981, and Zimbabwe, which gained independence in 1980 and qualified from the ICC Trophy competition, arrived for the quadrennial event in England, the West Indies was still firm favourite to retain the Prudential Trophy. It had won all nine matches across the previous two World Cups and 38 of the 52 matches it had played overall.
Australia had played 89 and won 41, England 81 (won 42), New Zealand 59 (won 31), Pakistan 45 (won 19), India 40 (won 12) and Sri Lanka 20 (won 5). Based on these numbers, it was predicted that the West Indies, Australia or England would win the competition.
But India and Zimbabwe, making its ODI debut, gave a standout performance that probably turned the cricket world upside down on June 9 and 10 -- India inflicted a first defeat on Lloyd’s men in a league match at Old Trafford, while Duncan Fletcher’s remarkable show with bat and ball (69 n.o. & four for 42) brought Australia down at Trent Bridge.
The focus, though, was on India, seen as a dark horse by Australia’s Kim Hughes after it had beaten the West Indies at Berbice two-and-a-half months before the competition.
The change in format -- with teams in two groups playing each other twice -- provided a level playing field in different conditions, though England enjoyed a dry spell during the period from June 9 to June 25.
India’s 24-year-old captain Kapil Dev tried to find ways of proving his all-round ability; he succeeded largely by scoring 303 runs and taking 12 wickets at 20.41. He evoked awe and admiration with his 175 not out against Zimbabwe at Tunbridge Wells.
India’s seam attack vindicated itself with Roger Binny (18 wkts), Madan Lal (17), Balwinder Singh Sandhu (8) and Mohinder Amarnath (8) outwitting other famous names in the competition. Spinners Ravi Shastri (4) and Kirti Azad (1) shared five wickets between them.
India produced a near-perfect team performance, with Yashpal Sharma making 240 runs, Amarnath 237, Sandeep Patil 216 and K. Srikkanth 156.
Kapil, who was part of the great quartet of all-rounders that included Ian Botham, Richard Hadlee and Imran Khan, said many years later that the victories at Berbice and Old Trafford had given his side the confidence.
“We had faith in our medium-pacers throughout the World Cup. We decided to bat first, in normal conditions, if possible, and then keep the pressure on the opposition by bowling a tight line and length.”
What they said
It was more than us or our supporters had hoped. On the morning of the final we were optimistic, for we had nothing to lose. Indeed reaching the final was as good as winning the World Cup.
-- Sandeep Patil
Team, if this is not a winning total, but it’s definitely a fighting total -- Kapil Dev, during the innings break
Gordon Greenidge getting bowled, by leaving the ball ... he made that delivery more special. I was a fan of Greenidge before playing international cricket and I have always been his fan.
-- Balwinder Singh Sandhu
The best part about that [Richards’s] dismissal was that Madan Lal's urge to bowl that particular over. Madan Lal literally snatched the ball from my hands and went on to bowl that over. When someone has so much confidence, you give in.
-- Kapil Dev, who took the famous running catch
The most painful thing for us was to hear those Indian supporters' drums around our hotel all night after the final. Some of the guys broke down. Malcolm Marshall cried.
-- Viv Richards.
I was so positive about the outcome that I even ordered a new BMW car in the misguided belief that I could pay for it out of my winnings. What utter folly! Cricket has a nasty habit of punishing those who
come to believe in their infallibility and so it was for us at Lords on 25 June 1983
-- Malcolm Marshall
We were always the underdogs and this has given us more incentive.
-- Mohinder Amarnath, Man of the Match in the semis and final
We have done enough for our grandchildren to talk about.
-- Roger Binny