Despite BCCI’s efforts, Kapil’s feat indelible
It won't be possible to erase from our memories, the fact that Kapil, arguably the greatest Indian cricketer, was also the skipper of the World Cup winning team, writes Pradeep Magazine.india Updated: Jun 22, 2008 02:19 IST
When Kapil Dev and his happy-go-lucky band of merry men surprised themselves and the cricketing world by winning the symbol of one-day supremacy — the World Cup — little would they have known that their achievement would become bigger and bigger with each passing year, and would even ensure them monetary returns they had never dreamt of.
In 1983, India were struggling to find their feet and the economic growth of today was just a dream. It was the age of black-and-white television and many Indians on that sultry June 25 night considered themselves lucky to watch Kapil lift the Prudential Cup on coloured screens.
Cricket was popular but the money to be made off it was nowhere as staggering as it is now for anyone who plays for the country or even a state team. In these 25 years, we have not only gone through a cricketing revolution but also an economic boom. In the post-liberalization period, how much a player makes has become the new symbol of his achievements.
Today, when Kapil Dev and his teammates appear on TV, narrating what it meant to win the championship and all that went on behind the scenes as they made the improbable possible, they don't do it for free. It's either done for their sponsors or channels pay them a neat sum in exchange for this information.
This is not a practice they started. It’s something that has become an accepted norm, and perfected by our cricketing icons with the help of their agents. The 1983 winners are just benefiting from this economic revolution and many of them are perhaps ruing the fact that they were born at the wrong time.
A few among them may also be wondering whether they made the right choice a year ago by aligning with the rebel ICL, which has pitted them against the cricketing establishment. For the board, Kapil, after he chose to organise Subhash Chandra’s T-20 league, has become a pariah. They have banned him and his teammates — Sandeep Patil, Madan Lal, Roger Binny and Balwinder Sandhu — from getting any benefits for their “services to the nation” They would want us to forget all the achievements of these players but unfortunately for the establishment, try as they might, it won't be possible for them to erase from our memories the fact that Kapil, arguably the greatest Indian cricketer, was also the skipper of the World Cup winning team.
So when Sunil Gavaskar, another of the nation’s — and now also one of IPL’s — brand ambassadors, got Vijay Mallya to honour the team and give them monetary rewards to commemorate the 1983 win, the BCCI, perhaps out of sheer embarrassment, decided to host a function in honour of the team.
In the 25th year of Indian cricket’s greatest achievement, on one hand we have Kapil's poster removed from the Mohali stadium for daring to challenge the might of the Board, and on the other hand the same people are felicitating him for having won a rare crown for the country.
It is a forced marriage between the cricketer, who in many ways is Indian cricket’s original brand ambassador and the first player to exploit the money-making opportunities offered by new market forces, and those whose only achievement is the vice-like grip they have over the administration of the game in the country.
Be sure this truce won’t last for long. One hopes that in this fight for a share of the pie, which seems to be becoming bigger and bigger, the game should not be the loser.