World Cup (cricket): 1983
This is a collection of articles archived for the excellence of their content.
Prudential Cup: venue England
Participating teams: All seven test playing teams (now including Sri Lanka), plus Zimbabwe (selected through the ICC Trophy)
Winners: India, who defeated West Indies in the finals.
India vs. West Indies, at the Lords', June 25, 1983
India beat Australia to reach '83 semis
gocricket.com 20 Jun 2014
At Chelmsford, Roger Binny's indefatigable spirit was on display in a famous Indian win.
India beat Australia in their final league match of the 1983 World Cup at Chelmsford. It was a do-or-die fixture, and Kapil Dev's team beat the odds to make it to their first World Cup semi-final.
Here's how it panned out:
This was an epic match in the context of India's World Cup dream. Had they lost to Australia here, they would have been ousted on the basis of Australia's better head-to-head record, and so the match at Chelmsford was one of life and death.
Coming to this match, Australia weren't in the best of shape, with their bowling especially suspect, but on this day, they managed to bowl India out for 247 in 55.5 overs. From a poor start (3 for 1), Australia were looking good on 46 for 1 when Roger Binny, in his most outstanding display of an outstanding World Cup, knocked the stuffing out of them.
In three overs, the 16th, the 17th and the 20th, Binny reduced the Aussies to 52 for 4, and the game was over as a contest. Bowling seam-up and hitting all the right places, Binny confounded the opposition with just the right pace on that wicket, and claimed match-winning figures of 8-2-29-4. In many ways, Binny was the epitome of India's spirit that summer, and it was here, at Chelmsford, that his indefatigable spirit was on display.
India’s path to the final
1983 World Cup, Cricket, India's path to the Final, date-wise
1983 WC FINAL || India v West Indies || LORDS
Henry Blofeld recalls (The Times of India):
It looked as if the West Indies had absolutely done it when they bowled out India for 183. The turning point for me, and the wicket I will always remember, was that of Viv Richards when Madan Lal came on. Richards pulled a short one, got a top edge and Kapil Dev swirled and hovered with the whole of India holding their breath. It was a fairly straight forward catch but I can't believe there was ever a more pressured one in World Cup history. With one-day cricket in its infancy at that time, it was one of the biggest shocks the sport had ever seen.
Abheek Barman  adds: Our Cup final was not without its surreal moment. It happened when Balwinder Singh Sandhu, probably the slowest `medium pacer' in history , trundled up to bowl to Gordon Greenidge, nemesis of bowlers everywhere.
The ball, in extreme slow motion, drifted away from the stumps. Greenidge had a long look at it Sandhu's deliveries could merit leisurely inspection and decided to pass. Then unbelievably , it clipped one of Gordon's stumps.
Kapil Dev: On India's progression in 1983
Kapil Dev India Today February 5, 2015 | We were a champion team, the win was not a fluke
Kapil Dev led India to victory in the 1983 World Cup
I was 24 years old back then. I was also an unusual entity in Indian cricket at the time. For a sport that was still very English and put 'culture' and upbringing above all else, my background was bohemian, to say the least. I was not a natural English speaker, and I came from an agricultural heritage, which made me earthy, rooted, even ruthlessly irreverent, but not 'polished' in the traditional sense.
Indian cricket at the time was in a phase where we were rarely expected to win. In Test matches, a draw was often celebrated as if it was a victory. Our biggest challenge in 1983 was to change that mentality because in one-day cricket there are no draws-you either win or you lose.
Having said that, the Indian team entered that tournament looking to find its way rather than stamp its authority.
A lot has been said about our victory over the world champions West Indies in Berbice, Guyana, in the months leading up to the tournament, and the World Cup opener against them, where we won by 34 runs on the back of a brilliant 89 by Yashpal Sharma. In that match at Old Trafford too, there was a time when the last-wicket partnership of Andy Roberts and Joel Garner had almost taken the game away from us. Chasing 262 for victory, the West Indies went from 157 for nine to 228 before Ravi Shastri got Garner stumped by Syed Kirmani against the run of play. We had done the unthinkable. We'd beaten 'The Invincibles' twice, but were nowhere near being considered among the favourites for the title, and with good reason.
As the next few matches rolled along-a win against Zimbabwe in Leicester, and losses to Australia at Trent Bridge and West Indies at the Oval-it became clear that we may not be a team of superstars, but we were a side where different players were capable of taking on the leading role, with others coming together nicely to support them. If Yashpal stood out in our first game, Madan Lal bowled a fine spell against Zimbabwe, I picked up five wickets against the Aussies, and Mohinder Amarnath struck a polished 80 in our second outing against the West Indies.
We had reached a critical point in our campaign at that stage, with our next game against Zimbabwe in Tunbridge Wells coming up. I remember we had an hour-long team meeting, and that the statisticians had told us we could qualify for the semi-finals even if we lost our last group match against Australia. But we would have to beat Zimbabwe by scoring 311 while batting first. Since we were so unused to winning against the bigger teams, we decided to focus on that target instead of leaving things until the Australia match.
But that was soon to become a distant dream. We were reduced to 6 for 3, then 9 for 4 by the time I went in to bat, and soon to 17 for 5. For a team that scarcely knew how to build an innings in the game's shorter format, it seemed we'd reached the end of the road.
What happened in that game, of course, is history. I managed to get going, reach my 50 with support from Roger Binny, my century with support from Madan, and then went on to score 175 not out with Syed Kirmani standing by my side. As we reached 266 from our 60 overs, and then won comfortably, it was the turning point in the World Cup. Suddenly we felt we could achieve anything. There was a spring in the stride of the Indian team the next morning, and everyone had automatically started practising twice as hard.
It was our rawness that made all of England believe that the semi-final at Old Trafford was going to be a one-sided affair. They were playing at home, they were in fine form, and with a nation's expectations propelling them forward, all the newspaper headlines were predicting a West Indies versus England final. That overconfidence was perhaps their biggest mistake.
I remember the match for its flashes of brilliance-an excellent spell by Roger Binny, the Allan Lamb run out by Yashpal, and that audacious shot where Yashpal left the stumps, ran towards slips, and flicked the ball over the leg-side for a six.
We were happy to go into the final still as the underdogs. In our team meeting, we spoke about how seven hours on the cricket field could change our lives forever. Win or lose, we decided we would play like champions. But when we saw the pitch at Lord's, our old fears started to return. The wicket was so green that you could hardly tell it apart from the ground, and we would have to face Michael Holding, Andy Roberts, Malcolm Marshall and Joel Garner on it. For a while, I have to admit, our focus almost shifted from the match to the pitch.
But Krishnamachari Srikkanth began well, settling the nerves by the way he absorbed pressure from the famous pace quartet. His 38 would later turn out to be the highest individual score for either team in the match. A lot has been said about our 'paltry' 183, but I was happy that we had seam bowlers, and not out-and-out fast bowlers in those conditions. Balwinder Singh Sandhu gave us the perfect start, and Madan, Binny and Amarnath all got into the act. I ran backwards to catch Vivian Richards, and Sunny (Sunil) Gavaskar took four catches as we kept a slip right through the innings.
For me, the real danger man was Clive Lloyd. Early in his innings, he got injured on his right leg, and I could see that he wasn't being able to put weight on it. I told Binny that whatever he does, he must not bowl short, and that Lloyd should be compelled to play on his front foot. His delivery was overpitched, and a struggling Lloyd gave me a catch to make it 66 for 5. Soon we would be world champions.
Something incredible happened that afternoon at Lord's. We made history, and also changed the course of Indian cricket forever. A lot of experts said later that the win was a fluke. They may even have got away with it had we not won the World Series in Australia just two years later. No one could say we were not a champion one-day team after that, or that our 1983 victory was just a stroke of luck. And if they do, a lot needs to be said about their knowledge of cricket.
A triumph that changed India
1983 changed Indian cricket, its cricketers and the country forever
Quite remarkably, India beat England in the semi-final at Old Trafford and suddenly the English seemed to lose interest in the sport.
The West Indians were a mighty side, arguably the greatest of all time. Any side blessed with the majesty of Richards, the power of Greenidge and Lloyd, the artistry of Dujon, and, above all, the sheer pace of the most fearsome attack in cricket history (all four of them!) was simply invincible. Or so most Indians thought. We were going to be runners-up.
In fact, when India was bowled out for just 183, one of its supporters, former Test player Yajurvindra Singh, decided to go off shopping. His brother was to arrive that evening and Singh, a record-holder for most catches in a Test innings, decided it was best to leave before the final act of what seemed a formality. It was perhaps the worst decision he has ever made in his life!
India-50 to one outsiders at the start of the tournament, a team whose previous World Cup record included wins against lowly East Africa and not much else-achieved the seemingly impossible. Kapil Dev lifted the cup that evening, the West Indies were shell-shocked.
Each little shot and wicket only added to the drama. Srikkanth, wielding his bat like a sword, actually hooking a six off Andy Roberts; Sandeep Patil lofting Larry Gomes into a stand where we were surrounded by beer-swigging West Indian supporters; Syed Kirmani diving full length to take a catch; above all, Kapil Dev running like he was at the Haryana marathon and then bursting into the widest smile imaginable after dismissing Sir Viv, who was batting with an imperious air, almost as if he owned the ground and the Cup.
The special moment was when Balwinder Sandhu, a genial sardar, bowled the other great West Indian batsman, Greenidge, while he shouldered arms and left the ball. 'Balloo', as he was fondly referred to, was on the biggest stage of them all, bamboozling one of the finest players of fast bowling. If Sandhu could make the West Indians dance to his swing, then India should have known this was to be an exceptional day.
The 1983 win changed the commercial worth of the Indian cricketer forever. Until then, cricketers rarely did advertisements: a Farokh Engineer in a Brylcreem ad in the 1960s had been an exception.
Yes, Sunil Gavaskar in the 1970s had acquired superstar status but his was the achievement of a middle-class hero: an old-style Test batsman who had defied the fastest bowlers in the world. Gavaskar's world, much like the India of the times, was not one of extravagance or self-indulgence; he was the classicist.
If you ever went to a movie theatre in the 1980s, you couldn't miss Kapil Dev. With his toothy smile and wide moustache, he invited you into a new world that said, quite simply, 'Palmolive da jawaab nahi'. If Gavaskar was the legend, Dev became a pop icon for a young India: suddenly, in the land of spinners, everyone wanted to bowl fast and hit sixes.
1983: Gavaskar, brought luck, not runs
Abhijeet Srivastava |Aaj Tak | New Delhi, January 16, 2015
Kapil scored the most runs in the tournament
Kapil Dev led the Indian team that won the World Cup for the first time in 1983. Against Zimbabwe Kapil played an unbeaten innings of 175 runs. Mohinder Amarnath was the 'Man of the Match’ in the semi-final and final. But the one thing that very few people know is that the team won the World Cup because of Sunil Gavaskar.
Gavaskar had a very poor performance during the tournament. Yet he played for the Indian team in six of the eight matches. After the first two games he was removed from the playing XI. The team won the first two matches but Gavaskar’s performances were quite mediocre: 19 against the West Indies in the first game; and only four runs against Zimbabwe.
The management brought in Dilip Vengasakar in his place. But what happened after that compelled them to bring Gavaskar back to the playing eleven.
In the two matches played after removing Gavaskar, against Australia and the West Indies, India lost both, and by large margins. Gavaskar was recalled. This was the match in which half the team was all out for 17 runs but Kapil Dev scored a historic innings of 175 not out. Gavaskar scored zero runs, but when the team has managed to survive such a grave crisis it seemed to them that Gavaskar had brought luck to the team. He seemed to be a good luck charm in match after match after that. India was not only not eliminated from the tournament, the team did not lose a match after that.
Gavaskar’s own ‘good luck tactic’ during the tournament was to wear his left pad and left shoe first, while dressing for the match.
During the 1983 World Cup, in six matches Gavaskar scored only 59 with an average of just 9.83. His highest score was 25. However, these 25 runs came at the most opportune moment. These runs were scored in the semi-final. The team had to score 214 to win the match. Gavaskar and Srikanth scored 46 runs for the first wicket. This created a strong base for the innings and India reached the final by winning the game by six wickets.
Gavaskar helped the team win the World Cup not because of his performance but because he brought luck to the team.
Kapil Dev's innings
Ayaz Memon India Today February 5, 2015 | World Cup highlights: When the greats got going
There have been several bigger scores, even double hundreds in the past few years, but to my mind Kapil Dev's unbeaten 175 against Zimbabwe in Tunbridge Wells remains unsurpassed in ODI cricket history.
On a seaming track, India were reeling at 9-4 when he walked out to bat. The score was soon 17-5. From there, to take the total to 266 in the company of tail-enders was an astounding feat.
Look at the hardship quotient for his innings. India faced not just a rout in the match, but also virtual elimination from the tournament. The pitch was heavily loaded in favour of the bowlers too-heavily grassed and a little damp, allowing for deadly seam movement. The manner in which Kapil Dev took these hardships in his stride belied belief. It was the unbridled expression of cricketing genius. Blessed with keen ball sense, nimble footwork and powerful arms, Kapil's counterattack left the Zimbabweans and spectators at the small ground dizzy.
The impact of his innings resonated loud and wide and changed the destiny of not only that match but the tournament as well as the future of the sport. Ironically, this knock was not recorded for posterity because official broadcaster BBC was on strike that day.
There was a lot of fun that we had as a team during that campaign. With characters like Sandeep Patil and Kirti Azad, there was a lot of leg-pulling, fooling around, which meant that the team atmosphere was relaxed. I would give credit to our seniors in that team — Sunil (Gavaskar), (Syed) Kirmani, Dilip Vengsarkar and Mohinder Amarnath — for not making the final into too big an occasion. It really helped reduce the pressure on us youngsters. They didn’t allow that final to become a big game.
Before the final, the atmosphere was like: ‘We have done well so far, now it’s just one more match. Let’s go out there and enjoy our cricket. ’ Over-planning did not exist. This also helped the youngsters like me to relax. When you come into the final, every player wants to win the match. However, if there’s too much ‘lecture-baazi’ (sermonizing), the whole energy is focused on what we should not do, instead of what we should do to win the final.
By talking too much about the importance of the final and of winning that game, you can turn the final into a demon. It helped that things were kept simple. There was so much leg-puling in the team. Kapil’s one-liners and comic timing were tremendous. However, we never used to run down the other. ‘We are not laughing at you, we are laughing with you,’ was our slogan. Our bonding was terrific.
Kapil’s 175 against Zimbabwe was the turning point for us. The pitch was helping Zimbabwe’s seamers, but he brought us back into the game by playing an innings of a lifetime. The best part of his knock was that he played all cricketing shots, except one top-edged six. On a seaming track, it’s one of the greatest inningsthat I’ve seen in the game.
I had castled Gordon Greenidge with a similar ball in the West Indies series just before the World Cup. Both deliveries were about the same line and length. He had tried to punch it off the back foot to cover-point, but was bowled. At Lord’s, on a seaming track, I deceived him. He thought it was an outswinger, but it actually swung in. He made that ball much bigger by leaving it and getting out. The stage, the batsman so big, and since the ball hit the offstump, it became so big. If he had left that ball and it wouldn’t have hit his off-stump, it wouldn’t have become so big.
That innings of Yashpal Sharma in the opening game against West Indies was outstanding. I thought the media didn’t give him enough credit for it. In our team, though, we knew its importance. Mohinder, Srikanth, I, Kiri, and of course, Kapil got credit for what we did in that World Cup, but Yashpal was the unsung hero. He was a complete team man. (Balwinder Singh Sandhu spoke to Gaurav Gupta)
Team members recall the triumph
Skipper’s Faith In Team Helped India Emerge Victorious, Say Teammates
On June 8, 1983, on the eve of India’s opening World Cup match against world champions West Indies at Old Trafford, skipper Kapil Dev called for a team meeting and said, “we can beat the mighty West Indies.” Many of his teammates, Kris Srikkanth recalls, muttered, “Yeh toh pagal ho gaya hai.”
India won the match and it wasn’t because of Kapil’s ‘madness’, but belief in himself and the men he was leading. Justifying the players reaction, Srikkanth said, “He was talking about beating a West Indies team that had (Gordon) Greenidge, Desmond (Haynes), Vivian (Richards), (Faoud) Bacchus, Clive (Lloyd), (Larry) Gomes and those four fast bowlers whose names none of us want to remember. Roger (Binny) and I looked at each other and said, ‘he has gone mad’.”
The former top-order batsman was quick to add why the team was low on self-belief. “In the previous two World Cups we had got thrashed. In 1975, we beat only one team called East Africa. There was no country, it was the coming together of gujjus settled there and we didn’t win a single match in 1979.”
On a Tuesday soaked in nostalgia and display of camaraderie during a promotional event for this year’s World Cup, Kapil and Srikkanth were joined by Syed Kirmani and Roger Binny as they relived the memories of 1983, incidentally on a day which marked the eighth anniversary of Mahendra Singh Dhoni and his men’s 2011 World Cup triumph. The awesome foursome, Srikkanth in particular, regaled the audience with stories from the past but the underlying message or rather tribute on the day was reserved for their captain Kapil and his belief in them.
Wicketkeeper Kirmani, one of the senior members of that team, added, “According to me, the turning point was the first game we played and won against the world champions comprehensively. Kapil’s statement during the first meeting we had (before the World Cup campaign) was, “I have seven seniors with me and I don’t have to tell you guys what you have to do and what your responsibilities are. That was a big statement. We understood our responsibility and played to our strengths.”
Speaking about where his confidence stemmed from, Kapil explained, “If you play for the sake of winning, then you can’t win. Whatever team you have, it is important to make the players believe that they can win. I wasn’t overconfident. Three weeks before the World Cup we had beaten West Indies on their home turf and that was their first home loss. So once you get that taste of victory you can start convincing yourself that if you have beaten them in their backyard you can beat them again. As a captain, you have to make sure that if you rub those kinds of positive words into the team it will work.”
Along with the coveted trophy, the Indian team members also came back with many off-field memories. Recalling his time with roommate Srikkanth, Binny said, “Having Srikkanth as a roommate meant every minute in the room would be eventful. Your bags would be all over the place, cigarette buds were thrown into you bag and suddenly you have smoke coming out. He always sang Hindi songs which you could understand. He was one good entertainment for me and took the pressure off all of us.”
And Lata Mangeshkar sang
Cricket’s a funny game. If you see the teams at the 1983 World Cup, all the sides were equally good except the West Indies. The West Indies had dominated international cricket for almost 15 years, and so were obvious favourites to win the World Cup.
But, just before the World Cup we had toured the West Indies and played three ODIs, of which we won one (at Berbice, Guyana). It was in that game that it dawned on us that if you put runs on the board and if they lose a couple of early wickets, it is quite possible that pressure could get to them. There was just that chance they would not be able to handle it and would crumble.
And that’s just what happened when we played them in our first game in the World Cup in Manchester. We were stunning them again, and reposing freshbelief in ourselves. Yashpal Sharma played a brilliant knock with an 89. Unfortunately, he’s not with us today. Just a few days before he passed away (July 13, 2021), I had met him at a function in Delhi and he still looked like the fittest guy in our team! But, that’s life. Though we did lose two games on the way, that Old Trafford win gave us momentum. Against the West Indies again, this time at the Oval, chasing 283, we were 130 for two. Myself, on 32, and Jimmy (Mohinder Amarnath) (80) were batting well, having forged a good partnership (109 for the third wicket). But just when I thought we were cruising, I took a vicious Malcolm Marshallbouncer to the chin. It signalled the end of my World Cup. I ended up with seven stitches on my chin. I was in prime form at that point, and naturally was shattered.
I remember going to the hospital in a taxi with our manager PR Man Singh. Man Singh was our everything on that tour. He would give us catching practice, give us allowance too. He was our go-to man for everything. If you had a stiff body or a fever and needed a tablet, you’d go to Man Singh.
In hindsight, the most unfortunate thing arising from that injury was that I couldn’t travel with the team to Tunbridge Wells for the game against Zimbabwe. In a sense, I too became like all those Indians back home, and somany other cricket lovers, who couldn’t witness history that day. The match was never telecast live or even recorded due to a flash BBC strike that day. And, we all know what happened! Kapil came in and scored a magnificent 175 when we were tottering at 17 for five.
It was one of the greatest ODI innings to have ever been played. He bowled 12 overs after that magical knock, and won us that match single-handedly. That match gave us serious momentum. We then went on to beat Australia by 118 runs at Chelmsford. The Aussies had surprisingly dropped fast bowling great Dennis Lillee for the game.
A lot of Englishmen had bought tickets for the final, because they thought it would be them playing the West Indies in the final. However, they lost the semifinal to us, and a lot of those fans had to sell their tickets to the Indians, whowere suddenly outnumbering everyone at that point of time!
In London, we stayed at a hotel just opposite Lord’s, called West more Lands. Despite the short distance, we’d still arrive at the ground in a coach. It was a fairly big bus. Back then, we were entitled to only two tickets per match, or maybe just that extra one for your wife or friend. Now, many of our friends wanted to come to watch the final. So, with such few tickets, they accompanied us in our coach, since it would go right inside the ground! Once inside, they would disperse and watch the match from anywhere in the stadium! It was a memorable day. It was a memorable final.
The way our team played under Kapil Dev was simply outstanding. Once you start winning matches, the atmosphere in the team changes, it gives you thatvital winning habit or mindset. And that becomes very important in a World Cup, because then you know how to wriggle out of tight situations. I know cricket is a team game, but this was all Kapil’s World Cup. He was at the peak of his career and played brilliantly throughout. Kapil excelled in all areas, whether it was batting, bowling or fielding. The way he ran backwards at mid-wicket to take Viv Richards’ catch is still etched in everybody’s memory.
When we returned home, we were taken from the airport in an open-air cavalcade, just like Ajit Wadekar’s triumphant team in 1971 before, and later, MS Dhoni’s T20 World Cup winning team in 2007.
I would especially like to mention a grand great gesture by the legendary Lata Mangeshkar. On hearing that we were getting only Rs 25,000 per player as reward for winning the World Cup, she very graciously organized a concert to raise funds for the entire team. She spoke to NKP Salve (the then BCCI president), who agreed, and then went on to sing with a lot of emotion for us that famous evening in Delhi. That concert was attended by the who’s who of the country’s politics.
At that time, we got Rs 7,000 for a Test match and Rs 5,000 for an ODI. Thanks to her, each of us received a cheque of Rs 1 lakh. It was the first time in our lives that we were seeing a cheque of Rs 1 lakh for cricket!
(Former India Test captain Dilip Vengsarkar spoke to Gaurav Gupta)
Fascinating facts about World Cups
1983: Kapil Dev's wife went for shopping thinking India would lose India were given nil chance of upstaging West Indies in the 1983 World Cup final, so much so that Kapil Dev's wife expected defeat and went shopping. Fortunes turned and how!
1983: A shocking revelation from Madan Lal "I was not supposed to bowl the over in which I dismissed Viv Richards," expressed Madan Lal, several years after the 1983 World Cup final. Perhaps, destiny wanted the underdogs to become top dogs.
1983: A World Cup without playing a single game Interestingly, left-arm pacer Sunil Valson became the first player to win a World Cup without even featuring in a single game. Valson was selected in the Indian squad for the 1983 World Cup, but he never got a game in the tournament. Ironically, he was never picked for India again.
By Martin Williamson
It was an old film roll. Two, actually. One, a 400 ISO Kodak colour and the other, one half of a black and white. An Ilford HP5 perhaps, a trusted go-to for those who swore by black and white photography in the days gone. Forty frames in all. Stacked away in a box for 36 years in a London attic, gathering dust, fighting off mold, the treasure inside forgotten.
Till last week, when a British photographer posted never-seen-before images from the 1983 World Cup final on Twitter, sparking a new wave of nostalgia. The pictures might be grainy, but the memories they bring back are vivid. There is Viv Richards threatening to make it a really short afternoon at Lord’s, tongue peeping out from between his lips as he slams Roger Binny through the covers off the front foot. Appearing to be positioned a level or two below the wicket because of the ground’s famous slope, Gavaskar with cupped hands waits futilely in the slips behind. Even from the distance and the unfamiliar vantage, the majesty and power of the West Indian great is unmistakable. Then there is Kapil Dev, arms high in the air; Yashpal Sharma leaping in joy as a hunched Andy Roberts departs; a streak of white across the photograph showing the light spillage as it was one of the last frames on the film. Two pictures, within an hour of each other, and yet they tell us such different stories.
The lensman was 21-year-old Martin Williamson who, along with his banker brother, had shuttled about the general admission stands for most of that June day at Lord’s, trying to find room among the throng of West Indian and Indian fans. No one noticed that one of them sported a long overcoat, crazy for such a warm day. No one cared. It was such a simpler world back then. Williamson remembers hiding two Canon A1s in the coat that day, one of them with a 500mm Tamron mirror lens. “I was just a paying punter who loved photography,” Williamson, a former journalist and curator of the Historical Cricket Pictures (@PictureSporting) handle on Twitter, remembers. “I had a special jacket with hidden pockets at the back for the camera and lenses — any security back then was a cursory frisk so nobody checked the back,” he tells TOI.
That’s how he captured India greatest sporting moment on the afternoon of June 25, 1983. Yet, all these 37 years, we were accustomed to seeing images taken mostly from around the Pavilion End and the Tavern-side stand of the famous ground. For the last week, we are suddenly seeing fairly high-quality pictures captured mostly from somewhere between the now-demolished Grandstand and the Nursery End.
For Williamson, who began sports photography in 1979, it was the thrill of taking photos as an amateur that kept him going. Armed with his trusted coat, he has shot concerts of the Police, the Jam, the Pretenders and the Rolling Stones in the 1980s, but has misplaced the folder containing the photos. “In 1983, I took the photos of the final to the local chemist and got them back a few days later. I filed negatives at the time but rarely went back to them, partly because in my mind the earlier pictures were generally not good enough to revisit. It was only during a recent clearout that I found them again…I have started to have a look at what I have. A lot of junk, a few gems…” he says.
And gems they are. “I did not think I had taken a picture of the final wicket … and there it was! Michael Holding lbw Mohinder Amarnath for 6. Not the finest picture but,” Williamson had tweeted earlier in the week, captioning the hoary image of Amarnath celebrating the fall of Michael Holding, the final West Indian wicket, umpire Dickie Bird’s raised finger only a formality. In fact, Patrick Eager’s famous picture of Mohinder Amarnath smacking a square cut off one foot during India’s innings, taken from atop the balcony on the Tavern-side stand, finds a counter perspective with Williamson capturing the Indian all-rounder, essaying the same shot but from exactly the opposite side. The Indian all-rounder’s derriere is in obvious focus as the ball is whizzing past Joel Garner, but it provides for a different angle — an almost behind the scene — to what is ultimately a superb image of an athlete in full flow.
Was Williamson aware he was to witness history unfold through his camera? “The Roberts dismissal picture is crucial that way. That’s the first one where you can really see the realisation of what is about to happen,” says Williamson.
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