In the build-up to the World Cup, Third Umpire will be host to a number of preview articles. We shall also feature pieces on past tournaments, beginning here with the 1983 tournament.
From the opening day on the 9th of June to the dramatic final on the 25th June the 1983 World Cup was full of surprises. Much of this was down to the change in format, where the four teams in each of the two groups played each other twice, meaning more matches and more opportunities for upsets and fight backs. Cricket was also spread right across England and into Wales by the use of non-Test match venues for the first time. This excellent innovation gave the tournament a national appeal and led to great attendances at grounds more often used to sparse county crowds.
Unlike recent tournaments, the 1983 World Cup was very compact, with 27 matches being played in just 17 days. This meant several matches on some days and both semi-finals on the same day. I suppose this says a lot about the relative lack of planning for TV at the time, as no modern tournament would have two big games starting at the same time on the same day.
However, it made the 1983 World Cup move at an excellent pace, with the action coming thick and fast. By the time India and the West Indies took the field to contest the final cricket supporters around the world had already been treated to some spectacular action. Little did they know that the last match would provide them with such an amazing final twist.
Opening day shocks
Though England hammered 322 off New Zealand at the Oval, beating them by 106 runs, and Pakistan racked up 338 to defeat Sri Lanka, the opening day of the tournament belonged to Zimbabwe and India.
Playing in their first World Cup, the Zimbabweans, captained by the canny Duncan Fletcher, pulled off an incredible win over the Australians at Trent Bridge. Fletcher marshalled his players with the shrewd planning and tactics he has since employed as England’s coach, defending a seemingly low total of 239. As an individual Fletcher had a stunning game as well, scoring an unbeaten 69 and taking 4 for 42 to help restrict the Australians to 226 in their allotted 60 overs.
Though the Australians gained their revenge in the second match against Zimbabwe and the Zimbabweans lost both matches with the West Indies and with India, Zimbabwe were never over-awed by the occasion. In fact, they started a tradition of upsets in 1983, which they would happily continue through the next few World Cups.
India, who had only managed one win in each of the previous World Cups, in 1975 and 1979, started the 1983 tournament by beating the West Indies, who were the dominant force in both Test and one day international cricket. Having won the first two World Cups, the West Indies started as strong favourites to make it a hat-trick in 1983. India showed they could be beaten by scoring an impressive 262 against the West Indies’ fearsome bowling attack and then defending that total through the efforts of their medium pacers. It was an excellent win, built on a great all-round team performance and served as a warning that India were a more determined side this time round.
A devastating spell
In a team that could boast a bowling line-up of Andy Roberts, Joel Garner, Malcolm Marshall and Michael Holding, Winston Davis was never going to be more than a back-up player, selected to give those great fast bowlers a rest. However, against Australia on a typical Headingly pitch Davis bowled one of the great spells in World Cup history. Not caring if he was hit for five an over Davis tore into the Australian batsmen and claimed 7 wickets for 53 runs in 10.3 destructive overs.
His bowling, and the big win that it helped achieve, meant Australia would struggle to make it out of the group stage. When West Indies beat them again later in the tournament and India crushed them in their last match it was all over for Australia, who would have fancied their chances in a group with India and Zimbabwe. Such was the nature of the 1983 World Cup, where surprises were the norm.
An explosive innings
When Kapil Dev strode to the crease at the Nevill Ground, Tunbridge Wells, his team were 17 for 5 against the surprisingly competitive Zimbabweans, who were looking for another big scalp on their first appearance in the World Cup. When he left the crease, unbeaten, he had blasted his team to a healthy total of 266 off their 60 overs. His 138 ball stay yielded 175 runs, including 16 fours and 6 sixes.
It was the kind of innings that even the greats can only dream of and the ultimate testament to a cricketer who knew no fear and thrived on pressure. Not only did he drag his team almost single-handedly to a good total, but Kapil Dev was also the captain, with all the extra responsibility that entailed. Granted the boundaries were short by international standards and Zimbabwe did not have the best bowling attack, but the destructive power and exquisite timing of Kapil Dev’s stroke play was simply amazing. I doubt Tunbridge Wells had ever seen anything like it before and I’m sure they’ve never seen anything like it since. A moment of grand excitement in a quiet English summer.
For the record Zimbabwe fought hard in their innings, being bowled out just 32 runs short of the required target. Their efforts would not be forgotten, but, perhaps, lost in the tornado that visited Kent that day.
The unlikely all-rounder
With the quartet of great all-rounders, Ian Botham, Imran Khan, Kapil Dev and Richard Hadlee all playing, the 1983 World Cup threatened to produce some fine all-round performances. Yet, it was the unlikely figure of Abdul Qadir who had, perhaps, the best all-round display in the tournament, when he stood almost alone with both ball and bat against New Zealand at Edgbaston.
Bowling his leg spin with his customary wizardry, Qadir cast a spell over the New Zealanders, giving away less than two runs an over and taking four top order wickets. His astonishing analysis of 12 overs, 4 maidens, 4 wickets for just 21 runs remains one of his finest in a distinguished one-day international career. Then, with Pakistan facing defeat at 131 for 8, Qadir came in to bat and scored an unbeaten 41, running out of partners in his bid to see his team home. It was an extraordinary individual performance from a man normally considered just a bowler.
The hosts disappoint
With the advantage of playing at home, and having lost only one match in the group stage, England were expected to beat India and book their place in a second successive World Cup final. However, India had by now found a winning formula, which they used to great effect against the host nation. Using their medium pacers India strangled England’s batsmen, reducing the scoring rate and forcing mistakes.
With their opponents on the rack Kapil Dev, the Indian captain, brought himself on at the death to further reduce the run rate and finish off the tail. The tactics worked very well and England struggled to an under par 216 all out off their 60 overs. In reply India started slowly, building a good foundation before the middle order saw them home. They only lost 4 wickets in the run chase and surpassed England’s total with 5.2 overs to spare. None of England’s much vaunted bowlers could do anything about it and the hosts could only look on with disappointment as India progressed to their first World Cup final.
A one-sided affair
Pakistan’s talented team, under the astute leadership of Imran Khan, had high hopes as they took the field against the mighty West Indies. Yes they were underdogs, but they had played well in the group stage and had the players to create an upset. The problem was the West Indies were in no mood to let anything bar their way to the final. Apart from a shock loss to India in their first match they had beaten all who had stood in their way.
The top quality pace quartet of Roberts, Garner, Marshall and Holding were on top form and ripped through the Pakistan batting line-up. To Pakistan’s credit they stuck it out for the full 60 overs, refusing to be bowled out, and managed to post a total of 184. Unfortunately, it never looked enough and Pakistan, despite having some great bowlers, could not defend it. They did get Desmond Haynes and Gordon Greenidge, the great opening pair, for just 56 runs, but Viv Richards and Larry Gomes both got fifties to see the West Indies home with 11.2 overs to spare.
Richards 80 not out was destructive, as the master blaster smashed 11 fours and a six in his 96 ball innings. The West Indies had comfortably made it to their third successive World Cup final, where they would meet India, the only team to have beaten them in the tournament so far.
The dramatic finale
Facing up to the might of the West Indies India started by losing the toss. Believing that with their powerful batting line-up they could chase any total, Clive Lloyd, the West Indies captain, put India in to bat. The Indians lost Sunil Gavaskar, their great opener, early, as Roberts bowled with his customary hostility. They recovered, but kept losing wickets at regular intervals, with no batsman managing to go on and make a big score. In the end they limped to 183 all out, only using 54.4 of their allocated 60 overs. It was a bitterly disappointing score and one which they knew would be very difficult to defend, especially against such a strong batting line-up.
The West Indies reply started badly, with Greenidge being bowled for 1 by Balwinder Sandhu. They recovered to post 50 without further loss, but then Haynes was out and the rot set in. India’s medium pacers started to strangle the West Indies, as they had done with England, with Madan Lal leading the attack. He had already accounted for Haynes and when he got Richards and Gomes the writing was on the wall for the West Indies. Lloyd and Bacchus soon followed, in what seemed a procession of West Indian wickets.
But great sides do not give up without a fight and Jeff Dujon, saviour of his team so many times, came to the crease and he and Marshall put on a brave 43, guiding the West Indies ever closer to the winning total. However, Mohinder Amarnath, with his medium pace, got rid of both of them with the score on 124 and the end was near. Kapil Dev trapped Roberts lbw, before Amarnath fittingly got the last wicket of Holding in the same way. The match was over and India had shocked the world by winning the final by 43 runs, claiming the World Cup for the first time. I doubt even the most ardent Indian fan had expected such a comprehensive win over the West Indies and few would have given them a chance at the innings break. It was a wonderful end to a great tournament.