Sunil Valson on 40 years of India’s 1983 World Cup win: Was an incredible boost to our sporting dreams

Sunil Valson was a popular member of the team. He didn’t play a game, but his input was sought after by everyone. At no point did he hold a grudge for not being given a chance, despite having put in the best performances in the domestic season and earning a place in the 14th division. In this interview he talks about his joyous journey.

How big was the 1983 World Cup win for the nation?

It was an incredible boost for our sporting dreams. I loved winning the 1975 Ice Hockey World Championship through radio commentary. It was a boom for the sport back then. The same goes for cricket too. It was the most popular game in India, but we weren’t world champions. Victory in 1983 established us. We would not be humiliated on the world stage in limited overs cricket. The confidence was huge and it ignited the spark for the future generation of cricketers to go one step further.

READ | 1983 Cricket World Cup Special, Prudential World Cup

What memories do you have of Kapil Devs 175 not appearing?

I was lucky to have seen it. On this eventful day it was actually Kapil against Zimbabwe. It has gotten us out of a desperate situation. It was an incredible batting effort and Kapil pulled it off so effortlessly. It was very windy, I remember. There was a lot of seam movement and we continued to lose wickets at a worrying rate. Kapil was unaware of what was happening as he was taking a bath. After nesting in the middle, he managed an exceptional shot selection. Let me share a superstition we followed in the locker room: Not a single player left their position until the inning was over.

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What was it like beating England in the semis?

The most exciting thing for me personally… The preparations for the final were intense on television. I sat in the room watching the discussion on the BBC where Ray Illingworth, Brian Close and Ted Dexter were having a lively conversation. They didn’t talk about the semifinals at all. It was all about how you face the West Indies in the final. All three were convinced there would be England versus the West Indies in the final. I loved seeing their faces after the game was over. The semi-final defeat at Old Trafford was a great humiliation as England lost to a side who weren’t even supposed to win against Zimbabwe.

What were your favorite moments?

There were many unforgettable moments during the World Cup, but the most exciting was the opener against Zimbabwe. That win gave the team hope that we could go the distance. It became a reality when we defeated one of the greatest day teams in game history. Imagine if we had a team where Dilip Vengsarkar and Ravi Shastri had to sit out the finals. I regret it though. I was unable to collect any souvenirs from this epic journey.


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