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A view from the Mecca:: How 25th June, 1983 changed it all
by Boria Majumdar
Jun 29, 2008
Walking out of the St John's Wood underground station, one is soon faced with the excitement of having reached cricket's hallowed fortress-the Lords Cricket Ground, one that changed Indian and world cricket forever on that fateful afternoon of 25 June 1983. On reaching Lords, however, what immediately strikes the observer is that the ground today is profoundly different from the one in which history was made 25 years earlier. The Natwest media centre, which identifies Lords in the London horizon, hadn't been conceived and Lords today is an excellent mix of the traditional and the modern. The Long Room-venue for the celebrations earlier this week hasn't changed much but the stands, dressing rooms and media facilities are much improved and different.


The makeover does much to remind us of the significance of that afternoon, which marked the beginning of a shift of the games nerve centre to the sub-continent, now complete. Today, records make it evident that almost 50% of the visitors to the Lords museum are Indians and 60% or more spectators attending matches involving India have roots in the sub-continent, startling realities whose origins date back to the 1983 Prudential Cup win. However much critics try and underplay the significance of this win, there's little doubt that it was only after India 's triumph in 1983 that the game came to be perceived as a viable path to fame and income for middle and lower-middle-class Indians. From 1983 on Indians - and along with them, the rest of the region - began to look to cricket as both a relaxant and something into which to channel their energies, patriotic and otherwise. Soon enough, the corporate world would take note - and the rest of the world would follow.

25 June 1983 then, it can be suggested, transformed cricket into what a billion Indians now know it as and proclaim loudly every time India takes the field. It helped mould a not so important sport into a quasi-religion and also an apparatus of key social change. That cricket today is motivation for a vast and multi-cultural nation is a legacy of this victory, a legacy unique and unparalleled.

It was only just that this victory was remembered in an emphatic manner earlier this week when the victorious team under Kapil Dev came together at Lords to commemorate the win's 25th anniversary. And in making this celebration all the more momentous, MCC and Lords played their part. In a rare gesture, the MCC, in collaboration with the Bletchley Park Post Office, brought out a special first day cover and stamp to mark the occasion. The stamp sheet titled "Big Bang" has Krish Srikkanth cover driving Andy Roberts for a boundary on his way to the highest score in the world cup final. Beautifully bound and framed, the MCC Chief Executive Keith Bradshaw presented the stamp sheet to BCCI President Sharad Pawar and skipper Kapil Dev.

The first day cover, crafted with rare picture postcard images from the 1983 final was a major hit among those present. Said Kirti Azad, "This is an excellent piece of memorabilia and will be preserved by all Indian fans who manage to obtain a copy." Syed Kirmani also complimented the MCC. "It gives us great pleasure to see that the MCC has put in so much thought in making this occasion memorable."

Architect of the cover and stamp sheet, Terry Mitchell of the Bletchley Park Post Office lamented the absence of the British media on the occasion. "While Charles Fry presented the trophy to Kapil Dev once again on the Lords balcony marking a great coming together of English and Indian cricket and we at the MCC tried playing our part, it is striking that the British media let this event of gargantuan international proportions go unnoticed", said Mitchell.

While ruing this absence, there's little doubt that for every Indian present at Lords on 25 June 2008 it was a rare afternoon of great significance. A much excited Sunil Gavaskar showing off the ball, which he had pocketed and has preserved with care, Jimmy Amaranth remembering what was his fastest sprint ever to the pavilion after he had nailed the last West Indian wicket and Kapil Dev telling us that the first 20 minutes after India won remain a daze in his memory, the evening was all a cricket fan could ask for.

For me personally, it was an occasion to relive that cardinal moment with childhood heroes, who, in ways unknown to them, inspired my doctoral thesis on India's cricket history. Also, by getting the first day cover and stamp sheet signed by all the players, I am now in possession of a rare piece of cricketing history.
 
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