Kapil Dev hails Albion victory as turning point of Indian Cricket

The content originally appeared on: INews Guyana
Former Indian Cricket Captain Kapil Dev in action

By: Jemima Holmes

Often times when cricket history is discussed in Guyana, the Georgetown Cricket Club (GCC) Ground fondly known as Bourda is the hot topic. Over the years, the National Stadium at Providence has been included, but hardly ever is the glory of the Albion Sports Complex involved.

With a history of only 5 One Day Internationals played at that venue in the Ancient County of Berbice, the Albion Sports Complex may not hold any significance to the West Indian team which was lethal in that era, but this is not the case for the Indian Cricket Team.

For India, Albion is where they found their footing, confidence, and the right formula to go on to become one of the best-ranked teams in the modern-day sport.

It all began on March 28, 1983. Holi day. To face the reigning World Cup champions must have been a fearsome thought for the Indian Cricket Team. Coupled with the West Indies’ home advantage and the thought of facing up to Michael Holding’s and Malcolm Marshal’s pace, the visitors at Albion, Berbice were in for a treat.

Kapil Dev is embraced by a Guyanese fan at the Albion Sports Complex, Berbice in 1983

39 years later, however, that fateful day at Albion has gone down as the turning point in Indian Cricket, the day the team realized they were capable; at least, that is according to former captain Kapil Dev.

“I think it was wonderful. That’s where I would say India’s Cricket One Day journey started, where we beat West Indies. West Indies, during that time, was a team nobody could dream to come close to them, and we beat them in West Indies, right here in Guyana,” the legendary Kapil Dev shared during an exclusive interview with Guyana Times Sport.

“So we were just over the moon, because no other team in the world had beaten West Indies in the West Indies. So, it was a great thing, and that’s where we start getting confidence, if we can beat them in their country, why not? We can beat them in World Cup history,” Dev said of the team’s emotions following the game.

Dev, a fairly new captain, made his way to the crease in the number 4 position, a tactic that was only tried once before. He went on to pull off what would be considered a T20 innings in modern day cricket, smashing 72 from 38, and later taking 2 wickets.

India posted 282/5 and restricted West Indies to 255/9, winning by 27 runs.
But the legend in the game refuses to take the praise for his efforts, highlighting that it was Team India’s collective efforts.

“I think it’s not me, it’s the entire team,” Dev said. “When you say I, me and myself, it’s not really you’re talking about your teammates. Yes, captains have to do his job, but I think no captain can win alone, you need a team, you need partnership, you need right kind of advice from the senior players, and that’s what had happened.”

He went on to state, “Yes, I played very well on that day, that was maybe my day, but I would say in that match I remember Sunil Gavaskar getting runs. It was beating West Indies here that was the cherry on the cake.”

“On top of that, I still remember, it was Indian festival, Holi Day, and I can’t forget that,” the accomplished all-rounder added with a chuckle.

Kapil Dev receiving the World Cup Trophy from Lord Carr of Hadley at the Lord’s Cricket Ground, London

Quizzed about his recent stint in recreating the exuberance of the 1983 World Cup for the Bollywood movie, ’83′, Dev refused to think of himself as a movie star, accepting only the title of cricketing legend.

“I think I never ever believed people like us can do any acting, but they made a movie on ’83 that was wonderful,” he said fondly.

With a wide smile, he added, “I’m not a star, I’m not an actor, I’m just a sportsman who played the game, enjoyed myself; that’s it.”

While the famous Berbice victory may have been an unforgettable experience for cricket fanatics of the day, it is an occurrence that has left its mark on Dev’s life.

“I mentioned many many times before back home in India, now also I say the same thing, because sometimes you need a victory like that to convince yourself you’re good enough. And beating them in Berbice I think was pinnacle in my life also, because that’s where the journey started in One Day cricket in Indian history,” he highlighted.

The fact that the ODI was played on Phagwah Day in 1983 made the match even more memorable for Dev, who recollected the overexcited Guyanese fan who rushed onto the field to meet him.

The emotions of the moment and the simplicity of the times gone past have since allowed Dev to grow to appreciate ‘simpler times’ and the livelihood here.

Kapil Dev embracing the World Cup Trophy in recent years

The former India captain related to this publication, “I think it’s wonderful. Anybody does something like that, in our time cricket was totally different to what you see today. Today you have 40, 50 cameras, you catch every spot on the ground, whatever is happening. In our period, it was not like that.

“Yes, West Indies Team was far better than Indian Team or any team in the world during that period, but coming here was always beautiful, because of the way they lived life.”
The rest was history. Led by Kapil Dev, India went on to win their first World Cup (Prudential World Cup) final on June 25, 1983, conquering the defending champions West Indies by 43 runs; motivated by their historic win in Berbice, Guyana. [First Published in the Guyana Times]