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HindustanTimes Fri,26 Dec 2014

Cricket Columns

Two cups: Then and now
Hindustan Times
New Delhi, April 03, 2011
First Published: 01:32 IST(3/4/2011)
Last Updated: 08:54 IST(3/4/2011)
Yuvraj Singh (L) celebrates as Sri Lanka captain Kumar Sangakkara (R) looks on after winning the Cricket World Cup final match in Mumbai.

Prize money:
Perhaps more than anything else, this says how the stakes in cricket have changed. In 1983 out of the total prize money of about Rs. 46 lakh (£66,200, converted at Friday’s exchange rate), Kapil Dev’s team pocketed Rs. 14 lakh (£20,000). On Saturday, MS Dhoni’s team got a cheque 60 times larger, of about Rs. 8.5 crore ($1.9 million). The tournament’s total prize money was Rs. 27 crore ($6 million).

Population:
We were a nation of 734.07 million in 1983. This year’s census tells us that we account for 17% of the world
population, at a staggering 1,210.2 million. Just the difference is one and a half times the current population of the United States.

Gross Domestic Product:
The nation’s economic output has grown from R20,2750 crore to an estimated R72,56,571 crore this year (at factor cost, at current prices) in these 28 years. Not so great when you see it in the light of the previous entry.
the Trophy: Just for the record, there’s growth in this, too. The trophy used till 1999 was 47 cm high and 2.5 kg heavy; the current one’s corresponding numbers are 60 cm and 11 kg.

Air fares:
For flying between Delhi and Mumbai in 1983, you would have to pay R1,000 to Indian Airlines, the only carrier. You could still get some cotton drown out the noise. Now a seat on India’s busiest route could come for R3,500, thanks to low-cost airlines, but you may need to buy even the earplugs.

Starting salaries:
To put the previous number in context, consider that an Indian Institute of Management graduate would have looked forward to an average monthly salary of R 2,000 in 1983. Today he may not be too happy if he starts at the current average of R 1.23 lakh — a month, that is.

Cars:
Nineteen eighty-three was the year the first clumsy hatchback called Maruti 800 rolled out of factory and India had a total of 11 million vehicles on road. With economic expansion came greater comfort and higher pollution, depending on the way you want to look at it. Today, we have more than 100 million cars.

Pin-ups:
The hottest heartthrob in the Indian team was Sandeep Patil, who later tried his hand at acting in Bollywood. This year the female fan’s pin-up could be the much-reformed Yuvraj Singh, who won the man of the tournament award this time. Off the field, Yuvi has possibly scored more than Patil, with link-ups to Kim Sharma and Deepika Padukone, among others.

Match tickets:
The stadiums were smaller, but the tickets — priced at £5 (R357 at the current exchange rate) and £10 R714) — made them accessible. This year you would’ve had to be brainy or brawny, or both, to lay your hands on the small share left for individuals after keeping the fat company cats happy. Prices are R1,000 to R5,000, but the market has its own logic: some tickets for the final were sold at 20 times their values.

Television rights:
BBC, fed by licence fees, was the official broadcaster in 1983. No one — except the few thousand spectators at Tunbridge Wells — could see Kapil Dev’s historic 175 against Zimbabwe because BBC employees were on strike on that day. This World Cup is practically being financed by television rights, which were bought by ESPN-Star for a eye-watering $2 billion (R9,000 crore).

TV households:
The reason for the change in the previous entry over the years: we had 28 lakh TV-watching households then compared to about 13.4 crore now. Ergo, it has become the biggest market for cricket.

Captains:
As far as on-field temperaments go, Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Kapil Dev Nikhanj are not exactly similar. Dev was the Haryana Hurricane,  while Mahi — as fans call him — is Captain Cool. MS twitches his nose when the chips are down; Kapil used to chew at his fingernails.

Ranchi:
MSD was two years old in 1983. Since then his home town went from being a provincial town of 5 lakh people to a state capital housing 8.6 lakh. Last year, it was picked by Asssocham as the highest employment generating Tier-III city in the country.

BCCI:
Back then the Indian board was a minnow in the cricketing fraternity dominated by England and Australia. The 1983 win started a shift. Now it’s the richest cricketing body — with more than 70% of the sport’s revenues coming from India.

India-Pakistan:
In 1983, one of the most serious attempts was made for a structured dialogue between the two nations. ‘Cricket diplomacy’ complemented a ministerial joint commission. This year saw the second, much-delayed innings of that cricket diplomacy, between Manmohan Singh and Yusuf Raza Gilani. This meet, too, coincided with a structured dialogue between the countries’ top bureaucrats.

Police presence:
Terrorism was the biggest worry this year. About 10,000 policemen were deployed in and around Wankhede stadium for the final. Back in 1983, the Bobbies of Britain were bothered at the most by streakers and pitch invasions.

Cola consumption:
After the Janata government had kicked out Coca-Cola, the sale of our country-made fizzes reached 40,000 litres in 1983. At 68,00,000 litres, just the essential liquid used in this year’s cola can wipe out most of the country’s water woes.

Spotlight on Mahatma:
Curiously, one common face under the arc-lights in the two years has been Bapu’s. Richard Attenborough won two Oscars for his film Gandhi a few months after India lifted the Cup on 1983. Last week Joseph Lelyveld’s book on Mahatma — which, to some readers, suggests the Father of the Nation was bisexual — has kicked up much dust.

Betting:
Let’s face it: we in the subcontinent like to gamble. Just that, back in 1983, betting rackets were called ‘matka operators’. They corrupted government employees to hook up as many as 10 phone lines to one connection. Cut to 2011, cell phones and the internet have made things easier. Special software are used to calculate complex odds that change ball-to-ball and over-to-over. Last month the Delhi Police busted 14 betting rackets.

TV shows:
In mid-1983, it was still a year to the first episode of Hum Log. It was the time for ‘original imports’ (as opposed to today’s ‘licensed fakes’). British serials Yes Minister and Black Adder were beamed into desi households. Now, apart from game and reality shows that borrow their formulae from British or American TV, it’s Americans’ sitcoms such as 18 to Life and 30 Rock that rule.

Man of match awards:
As a reward for scoring 26 off 108 balls and scalping three batsmen, Mohinder Amarnath received £600 as the man of 1983’s final match. There was no concept of man of the series then. This year the MoM got a motorcycle, cash and a trophy. The man of the series usually gets a four-wheeler these years.

Celebrity support:
In 1983 Lata Mangeshkar watched the final at Lord’s and even did a charity concert later for the whole team. Call it home advantage, but 28 years later, top names from Bollywood, business and politics turned up to cheer. The list included actor Aamir Khan, wife Kiran Rao and Preity Zinta.  Congress’ Rahul Gandhi was there too, as was biz king Mukesh Ambani and wife Nita. The Presidents of the two countries in the final — our Pratibha Patil and Sri Lanka’s Mahinda Rajapaksa — also made a power presence, as did ICC chief Sharad Pawar.

The world of Politics:
If  it’s the US that is seen to be faltering in 2011, it was the Soviet Union that was struggling in 1983. Today Arab regimes are struggling to survive the anger of their own people, with Western airplanes giving a helping hand in Libya. In 1983 it was a more traditional game: Western soldiers getting mixed up in Lebanon’s civil war – and getting slaughtered by the new weapon of suicide bombers. Closer home, in 1983, the Congress party needed a boost after a few lost polls in which it was deemed too corrupt. In January, all 60 ministers resigned to give Indira Gandhi a free hand. This year, too, there was a small reshuffle. Parliament was choked by the Opposition’s onslaught against alleged corruption by the Congress-led coalition.

Pop culture:
It sounds ancient now, but that was when Michael Jackson’s ‘Billie Jean’ and ‘Beat it’ were at the top of the global charts. ‘Billie Jean’ remained number one on Billboard’s Hot100 chart for seven long weeks. Today Jackson is no more, and Lady Gaga — who was not even born then, but is an artist with a similar flair for shocking — is ruling the charts. Her single ‘Born this way’ has become the fastest-selling single in the history of iTunes. Lady G has 9, 169, 388 followers on Twitter. In fact, the foundations of today’s tech communication were laid in 1983, with an automated network allowing computers to talk to each other (internet), a small firm unveiling a word processing programme (Windows) and Motorola launching the first cellphones.

Commentators:
In 1983, Richie Benaud — who gained vital experience a few years earlier during Kerry Packer’s world series — was king. And he was often supported by West Indian Tony Cozier. Ian Chappell and Tony Greig were starting out after retiring. Today Chappell’s is one of the most respected voices. Aside from World Cup time, we get to hear Ravi Shastri, Sunil Gavaskar and the curiously hirsute Harsha Bhogle. Can someone please tell us why Sidhu is considered a commentator.

Slogans:
Kapil Dev is said to have exhorted his players, “Dil se khelo” (Play with your heart). While MSD would probably have told his team members to use their brains more, the nation has been singing the tournament’s anaemic theme song, ‘De ghumake’.

Icons:
Amitabh Bachchan’s Coolie was released in ’83. The nation, which prayed for Amitabh’s recovery from an injury sustained during the shooting, ensured that even such a mediocre film was a hit. Today, there’s another god of the masses and he goes by the name of Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar. So what if he missed his 100th ton?


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