Gulu Ezekiel, Myth-Busting: Indian Cricket Behind The Headlines, (Rupa, 2021) is as fascinating to read as it must have been to research on and eventually write. “The whole idea is to bust long-held myths spread.” There are charming, structured anecdotes aplenty. Consider these:
Farokh Engineer has been claiming, he was the First Indian Cricketer to endorse Brylcreem. It was associated with glamour boys like Denis Compton and Keith Miller. In fact, there were other Indians before him – Vinoo Mankad, G.S. Ramchand and Subhash Gupte. This may appear to be a trifling matter, but it does fit into a pattern of boosting his own image and ego.
India’s immortal All-Rounder Mulvantrai Himmatlal Mankad, known to one and all as Vinoo, entered history as First Bowler to Run-Out the Non-Striker while in act of delivering a Ball. There have been calls to rename it ‘Browning’ or ‘Browned’ considering Bill Brown was the culprit, not Mankad.
Will soon-to-release in India, ’83’, remember this… Excerpt follows.
It was while traveling by tram on an October afternoon in 1978 in Calcutta, listening to commentary from Faisalabad, I turned around and relayed startling news. Teenager Kapil Dev had forced Pakistan Opener Sadiq Mohammed to call for – wait for it – Helmet! Sadiq would become 1st of his 434 Test Wickets. Kapil later cut down his pace and pragmatically concentrated on swing and length.
Kapil’s 175* against Zimbabwe at Nevill Ground, Tunbridge Wells, Kent saved India from a precarious position, and almost certain exit from 3rd Prudential World Cup, 1983.
Australia was level with India on Points but had a superior Run Rate. So to make next Game against Australia a virtual Semi-Final, India had to beat Zimbabweans while improving their Run Rate. If India won Toss, they would have to Bat first and put up a big Total. India did take first strike, despite Kapil’s misgivings as Pitch was damp and would aid Zimbabwe’s canny Seamers. Fifth Wicket fell at 17 in 12th Over. Total had crawled to 106 for 7 from 35 Overs, with Kapil on 51. 100 came from 100 Balls and it was only after, with Wicket-Keeper Syed Kirmani [next Highest Scorer with 24] for company, he began smashing Bowlers to all parts and final 75 Runs took just 38 Balls.
There was no Live Telecast because BBC were on strike, remains one great myth repeated ad nauseam over decades: Kapil Dev’s Autobiography; Balvinder Singh Sandhu’s ‘The Devil’s Pack: The Men Behind The ’83 Victory’. Evidence lies in Live Telecast of Two Games: England versus Pakistan and Australia versus West Indies, latter of which was also broadcast in Australia. Team Manager P.R. Man Singh writes in ‘Victory Insight: A Manager’s Diary For The 1983 And 1987 Word Cup’, in evening news, BBC showed footage of Kapil from Test Series held in England, thus proving there was no BBC strike. What is beyond a shadow of doubt is, Two Matches were Live Telecast on BBC 1 and BBC 2.
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