1983 title was only a first step of a beautiful story: Kapil Dev

The Game-Changed: Kapil Dev
The Game-Changed: Kapil Dev
The Game-Changed: Kapil Dev
The Game-Changed: Kapil Dev

(This piece was written in 2014 for a now-defunct website) 

Kapil Dev, captain of the Indian team that won the ICC World Cup in 1983, said the landmark achievement was only the first step in cricket’s journey into hearts of the people of the country. He credits the opening up of the Indian economy and Sourav Ganguly’s team in the first decade of the new millennium with taking cricket to its pre-eminent position.

In an interview with in his spacious office in Noida, the 55-year-old said cricket made a strong impact on Indians only because the national team started winning. “Yet, I never thought cricket will come to such a stage where the film industry is scared to release a movie on Friday if there is a one-day game that day,” he said.

“I think when anything big like a World Cup win happens, change always takes place. It was a surprise and it was a happy occasion. People started coming up with the belief that we can do it. New-borns were being named after cricketers. Yes, 1983 was a first step forward and started doing things well, even though it took us time to win the title again,” Kapil Dev said. “We won the World Championship in 1985, the 2007 World Twenty20 and many other finals besides Test series.

“I never thought cricket would change at such a rapid pace. Of course, change was ready to take place and hastened with the opening up our economy in the early 90s under Prime Minister PV Narasimha Rao – we could carry plastic cards, go around, spend money and nobody was doubting what you were doing.

“I believe change took place when Sourav Ganguly became captain and we started winning (overseas). We had Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid, Anil Kumble, Harbhajan Singh, Virender Sehwag, VVS Laxman and Zaheer Khan – golden boys – all coming together and we started winning all around,” Kapil Dev said.

“From there onwards, we started believing. And the common person on the street started believing that we can beat anybody. When that takes place, you can say cricket has changed in our country. Indeed, it is a beautiful story,” said the man who sparked a revolution in the way Indians thought.

“In our time, the thought uppermost in our minds was how to draw a series. Thoughts of winning a series were very rare. Today, we are looking to win a series. It is another matter that we don’t always succeed. The thought process has changed. That is the difference,” Kapil Dev said, drawing satisfaction that his team was able to contribute to self-belief.

He also said he had never imagined how the 1983 win would change Indian sports. “Sports was a past-time but today people make careers out of sports because our athletes in many sports have found international success,” he said, pointing out that a lot of work was left to be done in making India a sporting nation.

“I am not happy with our Governments’ response to sport. We have not created the right infrastructure. If the Government is unable to do it all itself, it must encourage corporates to support sport by giving them tax benefits. Also, it must do away with import duty on sports infrastructure like astro-turf, floodlights, synthetic tracks, pistols and rifles, shoes etc.,” he said.


About Rajaraman 453 Articles
Born on March 10, 1961 in Hyderabad, I wanted to be an electronics engineer but my focus on cricket and basketball at school and junior college meant that I missed qualifying from the entrance examination. I led the School and Junior College basketball teams. I then decided he would be sports a journalist like my father, Mr N Ganesan. While I graduated in commerce from the Badruka College of Arts and Commerce, I also spent more time in sports, representing Andhra Pradesh in the National Basketball Championship in 1980 and Osmania University in 1981-82. I joined the 1981-82 batch of Osmania Univeristy's Bachelor in Communication and Journalism. I missed the gold medal by 0.6 per cent and was pursuing the Masters' degree when The Hindu offered me a job as Sub-Editor in Madras. I took up The Hindu assignment on March 17, 1983. Though my job entailed editing functions only, I got to cover the annual Sholavaram motor racing grands prix in 1985 and 1986 and the Himalayan Rally in 1985 when my photographs also found expression in The Sportstar. I left The Hindu in November 1986 to join Press Trust of India as Sports Reporter in Hyderabad. I was called to New Delhi to report on the World Table Tennis Championship in March 1987. I covered a variety of events, including the SAF Games in Calcutta in 1987 and Islamabad in 1989. I ventured to Delhi in July 1992 when I joined The Pioneer as a Senior Reporter/Sub-Editor (Sports). My cricket writing skills came to the fore when I was deputed to write on India's tour of Sri Lanka in July-August 1993. I was rewarded with a promotion as Deputy Sports Editor in 1995. The departure of the Sports Editor in January 1996 saw me hold charge. A good performance during the 1996 World Cup cricket and the Olympic Games in Atlanta - when The Pioneer brought out a four-page supplement every day saw me being confirmed as Sports Editor in August 1996. The Hindustan Times, Delhi's largest newspaper, appointed me as Associate Editor (Sports) in January 1997. I conceived and launched a weekly colour supplement, Sport during the World Cup football finals in 1998. I covered the 1998 Asian Games in Bangkok and the 1999 World Cup cricket in England. I left the Hindustan Times on February 23, 2000 to take up position as Editor, www.cricketnext.com on February 26 and can claim with pride that I played no mean role in building a good site that is rated among the best cricket news sites. Besides, a number of TV channels – NDTV, Star News, Doordarshan, CNBC, Zee News – and radio stations like BBC, SABC and ABC have invite me to in-studio discussions on cricket. In 2001, I authored a book, Match-fixing: The Enemy Within (Har Anand Publications). I joined www.espnstar.com as Senior Editor in June 2001 and worked for two years, helping it transform from a corporate website to a respected sports site and playing a role in driving the hugely popular online fantasy cricket game, Super Selector. I left the website to pursue life as a freelance writer and consultant, editing the Afro-Asian Games Observer in Hyderabad in October-November 2003 and helping the Board of Control for Cricket in India's Communication Committee. I joined the respected weekly magazine Outlook as Senior Special Correspondent in April 2005 and worked there till September 2007, with a story highlighting Sunil Gavaskar's minimal contribution to Indian cricket after his retirement being one of the best in my career. For a year, till Sept 30, 2008, I was Sports Editor, Samay, Sahara India's National news channel. I live in New Delhi with my wife Sudha and daughter Priya and after a short stint with www.iplt20.com and www.t20.com, I am now consultant with the Organising Committee Commonwealth Games 2010 Delhi (28° 40' 0 N, 77° 13' 0 E) lending my shoulder to the wheel that will make India a hugely popular sports destination.