A few days ago, we brought to you some unheard stories from the 1983 World Cup. Well, this could be treated as a sequel to that, except this time, all the stories are straight from India’s prolific manager PR Man Singh who is finally getting the recognition he deserves for his immense contribution to the biggest victory in Indian cricket.
These anecdotes and quotes are from a wonderful interview taken by Himanish Bhattacharjee for Wisden in the year 2015. You can read it here.
1. During India’s first meeting as 1983 World Cup contenders, Kapil Dev asked the team to give its 100 percent and try to enjoy off the field as well. But not too much.
Let’s give it our best shot on the field, and enjoy off it. But not to an extent where it brings us and our country a bad name. We have nothing to lose, so let’s invest 100% in this.
2. The expectations were so low, that no one from India really asked the players if they were okay after their pre-tournament losses. It was assumed that they would be fine.
Nobody questioned us for losing. There was not even a single person from back home asking if we had eaten lunch, or if everything was fine. We were given a huge luxurious bus with video players and everything, and told to go have fun.
3. Initially, it was tough to find vegetarian food for the team, so one time they had to make do with biscuits and bread.
During our first practice match, I faced my first problem as manager. During lunch, I figured some of our players were vegetarians. And, in England, you would not expect any vegetarian food to be served for lunch. So we somehow managed with salad, bread, and biscuits that one time.
4. However, things turned out to be fine eventually because the Indians living in England would bring food from their own houses for the team. Isn’t that something?
With so many Indians in England, it turned out easy. Gujaratis would sometimes get us churma and all, Punjabis would bring us aloo pooris.
5. We all know that Kapil Dev’s 175-run knock was not filmed because of the BBC strike, but Man Singh believes that is an excuse.
BBC were only concerned with Pakistan, England and West Indies matches. All this talk of there being no footage because of their strike is rubbish. They were not interested in an India v Zimbabwe match at all. They just used the strike thing as an excuse.
6. Cricket often makes people superstitious, but what to do? The tricks work. Something like that happened during the final as well. Seeing India dismiss West Indies batsmen, BCCI officials started crowding around Man Singh, in anticipation of an early celebration. But it so happened that we stopped taking wickets then. This made a few reserve players suspicious, wishing that the officials would go. Which they did, and soon enough, India won.
Some reserve players came to me and said, “Sir, ask these people (BCCI officials) to leave, we are losing”. Now, they were from the board, how could I ask them to go? Anyway, they happened to get up and leave at one point, and you won’t believe me, just then Dujon was bowled, and then Marshall, and very soon – 140 all out!
The next two instances have been taken from an article published in The Hindu. You can read it here.
7. After India’s victory, it was PR Man Singh who reminded Wisden editor David Frith of his words, “I’d be happy to eat my words if India progresses beyond the league stage”. Those were the days of accountability, so Frith actually, literally did what he had said. He ate his words.
After we won, I wrote to him. And he was sporting enough to publish his picture in the magazine with paper in his mouth and a caption – I eat my words.
📜Before the 1983 World Cup, Wisden Editor David Frith wrote that India shouldn’t be invited due to a poor record.— The Bridge (@the_bridge_in) September 22, 2021
“I’d be happy to eat my words if India progresses beyond the league stage.”
After India won, he got a photograph clicked eating the pages of the article!#Cricket pic.twitter.com/CaaUOvHRkn
8. The manager also broke a popular rule back then. He allowed the wives of married players to travel to England and sit in the same bus.
We had four players with their wives and I gave them permission to stay in the hotel. I also allowed them to travel in the team bus when going to venues out of London. This was unthinkable then. Good the Board today allows the players to bring their families for some time.
This tournament was made for a movie!