The last few days have been a wonderful walk down memory lane as the members of the 1983 World Cup winning team gathered for a reunion firstly at Delhi and then at London. There were gala dinners at both places and the players were felicitated by the BCCI in Delhi and by Vijay Mallya and the UB Group in London. The team members had of course met each other off and on at various cricket related functions over the years and there was also a gathering of the team for a day when they played a good luck match against the 1999 team that was to embark on the World Cup in England. The 1999 team were keen to ensure that they didn't lose to the 'old fogeys' for that would not have been great for their confidence on the eve of the world cup and they played the game far more seriously than the 83 champs did. So this reunion was truly one such where the team was sharing the same hotel and experiences like they did in 1983.
What was clear was that there were big physical changes and while everybody was generally healthy the changes in other aspects were not evident. Yes most of the players with some exceptions had lost some weight on the head and put on some on the waist. What was pleasing was to see that everybody was in general good health and were happy to put up with some of the hardships of travel at odd hours and in a different time zone and then returning back in a matter of a day or two. Probably the non stop leg pulling and banter gave them the energy to stay up late too. It was great to have the wives for the functions though not all of them could make it to both events. They certainly seemed to have enjoyed the camaraderie of that 1983 team and they themselves had formed special friendships which were revived again since they were also meeting each other in such a relaxed atmosphere after 25 years.
The celebrations and the publicity generated surprised all of us because India is a country that believes in youth and doesn't seem to have much time for old timers but it was good to see some nearly forgotten faces being given the prominence and recognition that seemed to have deserted them after their playing days were over. Those days there wasn't the explosion in the media that is there now but for the same media to give so much coverage to the 83 champs was heartening to say the least. Keeping in tune with the modern manner, there will no doubt be some controversy sought to be generated about the events despite there being no real reason for it. But that's part of life and the important thing is no matter what anybody says the winners tag cannot be taken away from the champs.
It was good to hear from the modern heroes how they too looked upon the win as special one and while it is unfair to expect anybody to be inspired about a win when they were in their nappies, it was still good to hear good words spoken about the 83 champs. Without exception all of the 83 team believe that India will win the world cup sooner rather than later and even be the first host team to win the world cup and break that jinx too. They won the Twenty20 World Cup last year so there is no reason for them not to win the 50 overs cup too. The Indian Premier League will give newer options to the selectors and keep the established ones on their toes for sure and that is only good for Indian cricket.
The Asia Cup that is being played right now will give a fair idea as to how the Asian teams are progressing and while it is understandable that teams like Hong Kong and UAE will struggle against the Test nations, it is important that they play in this tournament for it is this that their players aspire for and thus keep the fires for the game burning in their countries where cricket is not the number one sport.
There is also the ICC annual conference that takes place in the next few days that will determine how the issue of Zimbabwe is to be dealt with apart from some of the usual cricketing matters. India's voice will be heard this time around too as it has been since 1983 when Kapil Dev lifted the World Cup over his head on the balcony of the Lords Cricket ground. India had arrived as a cricketing power and today the cricketing world knows it though the old masters may not accept it. But then again that's life. One man's nectar is another man's poison.