January 28, 2011

Andy Zaltzman’s World Cup Memories ‒ Part One of a New One-Part Series

Part one of a one-part series of World Cup memories
71

Man versus rhododendron

Of all the World Cup matches I have attended, my favourite remains the first. Admittedly, my first World Cup match also remains my only World Cup match. But, equally admittedly, even if I had been to every single World Cup match since, it would still be high up the list. Tunbridge Wells, 1983, India v Zimbabwe. Kapil Dev’s unmatched masterclass in How To Rescue Your Team From A Perilous 17 for 5.

The first top-level cricket I ever saw was the cream of Indian batsmanship being obliterated. Followed by one of the greatest innings in the history of the game. My cricket-watching career may have peaked too soon. Kapil came to the crease at 9 for 4, eight runs later watched Yashpal Sharma trudge back to the pavilion, looked at the scoreboard, and thought to himself, “1, 7 and 5. That’s a nice collection of numbers. I wonder if I can make them appear together on the scoreboard again. Hmm, let me think about that. Yes, I’ve worked it out, I can. I’ll take 1 for 75. No, no, scratch that, I’ve got an even better idea.” A couple of hours later, Kapil left the field to thunderous and ecstatic applause – as thunderous and ecstatic as people are legally allowed to be in Kent, at any rate - with 175 not out to his name, and a place in the World Cup pantheon his for all time.

A small Andy Zaltzman was there to see it, a boy already captured by cricket, entranced by its heroes and numerical intricacies, attending his first game of professional cricket. Few of my school contemporaries at the time were as well-versed in Derek Randall’s Test batting average as I was. Fewer still had a reasonable working knowledge of Mansoor Akhtar’s performances for Pakistan. When ace 17th-century philosopher Francis Bacon wrote that “knowledge is power”, he clearly did not have the same type of knowledge that I possessed as a small boy. Knowledge that proved of little heft in the school playground. (But then again, Bacon himself ultimately died as a result of trying to stuff snow up a dead chicken’s posterior, so his “knowledge” was clearly vulnerable to the onset of over-excited but poorly planned experimentation.)

Somehow, and to this day it has never been satisfactorily explained, my father had managed to acquire a pair of tickets to sit in the pavilion, just a few feet from the players’ dressing rooms. This was an unmissable autograph-hunting opportunity. The only autographs I had successfully hunted up to that point in my life were that of Geoff Capes, the British strongman and beard enthusiast, who had been a guest at a prize-giving at my school, and the opening batsman from the local village cricket team. I nervously approached this titan of a man, as he slumped into a deckchair with a cigarette after a brief and unsuccessful innings, and politely requested him to sign my notebook. He looked at me with a mixture of surprise, confusion and nervousness, as if he suspected I might be trying to trick him into buying something that he didn’t want, as if the last time he had signed an autograph he had returned home to find a few set of automatic remote-controlled curtains and a bill for £3000. Little did I know at the time that village cricketers are unused to fielding autograph requests.

So, as World Cup history unfolded, I gradually filled the India and Zimbabwe pages of my World Cup magazine with the scrawls of some cricketing legends – India’s Dilip Vengsarkar, Mohinder Amarnath, Syed Kirmani, as well as young Zimbabwean squad player Graeme Hick, never-dropped-from-a-Test-match-in-23-years spinner John Traicos, and future Ashes-winning coach Duncan Fletcher. Plus Gerald Peckover, the non-bowling No. 9 batsman who scored a vain 14 in the second of his three one-day internationals, a footnote in cricketing history, but an eternal demi-god in my small eyes as he signed my magazine. Not enough of a demi-god for my father not to whisk me home in time for dinner before he made those 14 runs, as Zimbabwe’s brave chase fell 31 runs short, but a demi-god nonetheless.

Missing from my autograph collection are the two biggest stars playing that day – Gavaskar, who, having been dismissed for nought to the second ball of the match, bore an expression of such extreme grumpiness that the eight-year-old Zaltzman was too scared to look into his eyes, let alone waggle a pen in his face and ask for an autograph; and Kapil, who was busy trying to knock down the Nevill Ground’s renowned rhododendrons. Quite why the great allrounder felt so hostile towards brightly flowering plants remains a mystery, but he seemed on a mission to obliterate the pink abominations, blasting ball after ball towards the quivering shrubs. Kapil scored 175 for 0 off 23 overs. The rest of India managed 79 for 8 off 37. Even the most indecisive of waverers could have made a decent stab at the Man-of-the-Match adjudication that day.

Soon enough, those autographs had mutated into the autographs of World Cup winners. The Indian side who I had seen disintegrate in the face of the unstoppable Kevin Curran and Peter Rawson (who dismissed Gavaskar, Amarnath and Yashpal in his opening spell – 25% of all the wickets he took in his international career) went on to conquer the seemingly unconquerable West Indies. And the match and Kapil’s innings had passed into legend, unrecorded by television, eternalised only in startling numbers on a scorecard, and burned into the brains of a few thousand people in tents and deckchairs, including one giddy boy who dreamt of one day playing on the same holy turf of Tunbridge Wells.

That dream came true. About 15 years later, I played on the Nevill Ground for my village team, the mighty Penshurst Park, against Tunbridge Wells Cricket Club 2nd XI. I was thinking of Kapil Dev as I walked out to bat. I batted like a sickly left-handed Chris Tavare, before being bowled middle stump. Playing no stroke. An error of judgement, in hindsight, I thought, as I returned to the pavilion, grumpy as a Gavaskar and similarly reluctant to sign autographs (in the face of limited demand). Those rhododendrons seemed to be an extremely long way away when I was batting.

Little did I think that it would be: (a) the last time Peter Rawson dismissed Gavaskar, Amarnath and Yashpal Sharma in a single innings – I assumed it was the kind of thing he did all the time; (b) the last time a World Cup match would be played at Tunbridge Wells (Kolkata rearrangement permitting) - World Cups at that stage were Always In England, and Tunbridge Wells, as far as I was concerned, was second only to Lord’s in the great cricket stadiums of the world stakes; (c) the last time I would see a live World Cup match for 28 years – in 1999, the only England-hosted World Cup since, I was a novice stand-up comedian with as much disposable income as legendary New Zealand rabbit Chris Martin has run-scoring options.

I will rectify that in Bangladesh next month, as the Confectionery Stall embarks on its 2011 World Cup Tour. I will be writing or podcasting daily from the great cricketing centres of the subcontinent and/or wherever the organisers can find a finished stadium for a quick knockabout. I cannot realistically complete this paragraph without using the words, “Dream Gig”, so I will not attempt to do so. It is a Dream Gig.

It is unlikely, though, that anyone will play an innings that leapfrogs Kapil’s in the Greatest World Cup Innings Andy Zaltzman Has Seen In The Flesh list - the innings that jet-propelled India’s stuttering campaign towards their momentous final victory, uncorking an unending Jeroboam of one-day international cricket in India and around the world, paving the way for the Twenty20 revolution and utterly transforming the sport. None of which seemed likely as Kapil marched out of the Tunbridge Wells pavilion, past a disconsolate Sandeep Patil (c Houghton b Curran 1) and an awestruck Andy Zaltzman (DNB), with the scoreboard shuddering at 9 for 4 and the course of cricket history about to be clouted decisively on the head, lifted back on its feet, and ushered off in a new direction.

A quick footnote: although that hazily-remembered day in 1983 remains my most prolific day of autograph-hunting, my biggest autograph coup came some years later, also in Tunbridge Wells, and completely inadvertently. Whilst most teenage boys spent the majority of their time and money in pursuit of love, or at least a fumbling approximation thereof, I devoted mine to the acquisition of cricket books from second-hand shops. (The two pursuits are not mutually compatible – there are too few women in the world who are likely to be seduced by an offer to have a look at Bill Bowes’ autobiography. As my miniscule list of ex-girlfriends can testify.)

In one of my regular trips to Hall’s in Tunbridge Wells, I found a pictorial history of the Ashes. It had a picture of Victor Trumper in it. It cost £3. Deal. No haggling. I handed over my £3, and hurried home for a more detailed perusal. Perhaps there would be a nice action shot of Archie MacLaren in it as well, I thought to myself excitedly, as I scuttled past my mother, who looked on with resigned acknowledgement that her son was more interested in dead cricketers than alive family members.

I opened the front cover. Inside was a small piece of white card, stuck down by the previous owner with some blu-tac. On it was an autograph. Clearly written, and unmistakeable. Don Bradman. I exploded with excitement. “That’s nice, dear,” said my mother, trying half-heartedly to look like she knew or cared who Don Bradman was, and wondering what she had done wrong in my formative early years. “Foolish mother,” I retorted internally. “You should be proud. How many mothers have spawned a son who can claim to have both Don Bradman and Gerald Peckover in their autograph collections? Not many. Not many at all.”

Andy Zaltzman is a stand-up comedian, a regular on the BBC Radio 4, and a writer

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Aman on June 10, 2011, 8:03 GMT

    "It is unlikely, though, that anyone will play an innings that leapfrogs Kapil’s in the Greatest World Cup Innings Andy Zaltzman Has Seen In The Flesh list - the innings that jet-propelled India’s stuttering campaign towards their momentous final victory..." Curious coincidence that Sehwag ended up making 175 in the very first match against Bangladesh... and that it jet-propelled India's campaign to victory :)

  • Shyama Mandal on February 26, 2011, 18:01 GMT

    Not Many can depict the great cricket match between India and Zimbabwe. I am glad that you were present that day on witness the match. As the famous commercial of the day "Kapil da jawab nahin" (no answer to Kapil Dev!).

    Keep writing.

  • Bob Crowley on February 18, 2011, 2:56 GMT

    Definitely the funniest Andy Zaltsman article that I've read in the last 10 minutes. I laughed until I stopped. Have a great WC Andy.

  • Yogesh on February 11, 2011, 2:57 GMT

    The last line was awesome. The best of the lot. BBC's worst sporting blunder perhaps !

  • jogesh99 on February 5, 2011, 15:29 GMT

    Andy,

    Come have a drink with us if you visit Mumbai.

    - Jogesh

  • Sadath Ali Baig on February 5, 2011, 12:46 GMT

    The best I have ever read about that epoch innings. I would love to go back in time to witness it. Need to thank my brother to have sent me the link for this treat. Thanks once again and keep up the good work Andy......

  • Sohel ahmed on February 4, 2011, 11:32 GMT

    An awesome piece of writing.A work of art,truly.Wishing you a happy stay at Bangladesh andy.And please prepare yourself in advance for the murderous traffic jam of Dhaka.But you'll surely appreciate the passion and love this country and particularly this city have for cricket.

  • Sohel ahmed on February 4, 2011, 11:30 GMT

    An awesome piece of writing.A work of art,truly.Wishing you a happy stay at Bangladesh andy.And please prepare yourself in advance for the murderous traffic jam of Dhaka.But you'll surely appreciate the passion and love this country and particularly this city have for cricket.

  • DJ on February 1, 2011, 14:18 GMT

    I don't remember who wrote it but I remember reading a small article about this match when I was young.evidently there was a windies match either on the same day or the next and the author chose to go to that match to watch sir viv play.when he was in line to enter the stadium, someone asked him who he thought was the best batsman in the world currently and he replied 'viv richards' off course.he was enthusiastically told that without doubt, the best batsman by far in world cricket is a guy called kapil dev from India after his innings of 175.the author couldn;t believe his ears! I still can't believe his score! excellent article Andy and most welcome to India

  • jaideep on February 1, 2011, 5:05 GMT

    Innings of a lifetime. Switched off the radio at 17 for 5. Then checked the score on Khel Samachar broadcast on AIR at 7.00 pm. India 260 odd for 8 and Kapil Dev 175 not out. Cud not believe it at all. It was like dream. I read somewhere that Kapil has managed to get an amateur recording of his innings from a spectator who was present at the ground that day. Does anyone know more about this ?

  • Aman on June 10, 2011, 8:03 GMT

    "It is unlikely, though, that anyone will play an innings that leapfrogs Kapil’s in the Greatest World Cup Innings Andy Zaltzman Has Seen In The Flesh list - the innings that jet-propelled India’s stuttering campaign towards their momentous final victory..." Curious coincidence that Sehwag ended up making 175 in the very first match against Bangladesh... and that it jet-propelled India's campaign to victory :)

  • Shyama Mandal on February 26, 2011, 18:01 GMT

    Not Many can depict the great cricket match between India and Zimbabwe. I am glad that you were present that day on witness the match. As the famous commercial of the day "Kapil da jawab nahin" (no answer to Kapil Dev!).

    Keep writing.

  • Bob Crowley on February 18, 2011, 2:56 GMT

    Definitely the funniest Andy Zaltsman article that I've read in the last 10 minutes. I laughed until I stopped. Have a great WC Andy.

  • Yogesh on February 11, 2011, 2:57 GMT

    The last line was awesome. The best of the lot. BBC's worst sporting blunder perhaps !

  • jogesh99 on February 5, 2011, 15:29 GMT

    Andy,

    Come have a drink with us if you visit Mumbai.

    - Jogesh

  • Sadath Ali Baig on February 5, 2011, 12:46 GMT

    The best I have ever read about that epoch innings. I would love to go back in time to witness it. Need to thank my brother to have sent me the link for this treat. Thanks once again and keep up the good work Andy......

  • Sohel ahmed on February 4, 2011, 11:32 GMT

    An awesome piece of writing.A work of art,truly.Wishing you a happy stay at Bangladesh andy.And please prepare yourself in advance for the murderous traffic jam of Dhaka.But you'll surely appreciate the passion and love this country and particularly this city have for cricket.

  • Sohel ahmed on February 4, 2011, 11:30 GMT

    An awesome piece of writing.A work of art,truly.Wishing you a happy stay at Bangladesh andy.And please prepare yourself in advance for the murderous traffic jam of Dhaka.But you'll surely appreciate the passion and love this country and particularly this city have for cricket.

  • DJ on February 1, 2011, 14:18 GMT

    I don't remember who wrote it but I remember reading a small article about this match when I was young.evidently there was a windies match either on the same day or the next and the author chose to go to that match to watch sir viv play.when he was in line to enter the stadium, someone asked him who he thought was the best batsman in the world currently and he replied 'viv richards' off course.he was enthusiastically told that without doubt, the best batsman by far in world cricket is a guy called kapil dev from India after his innings of 175.the author couldn;t believe his ears! I still can't believe his score! excellent article Andy and most welcome to India

  • jaideep on February 1, 2011, 5:05 GMT

    Innings of a lifetime. Switched off the radio at 17 for 5. Then checked the score on Khel Samachar broadcast on AIR at 7.00 pm. India 260 odd for 8 and Kapil Dev 175 not out. Cud not believe it at all. It was like dream. I read somewhere that Kapil has managed to get an amateur recording of his innings from a spectator who was present at the ground that day. Does anyone know more about this ?

  • saurabh on January 31, 2011, 4:53 GMT

    Andy During the Bizz End of the WC 2011 I am completely free and would like to volunteer to work with you on your Dream Gig :)))

  • Kiran Raj on January 31, 2011, 2:09 GMT

    Andy, I love reading all your articles. Your work is truly unique and I am a big fan!

  • Ameen on January 30, 2011, 20:00 GMT

    Come Feb, and we will be reading Andy daily here. All the ingredients to make this world cup fascinating.

  • Santanu Chakraborty on January 30, 2011, 15:02 GMT

    Hi Andy,

    I have read some of your articles and they are, as most of the readers say, hilarious. But I have read this one and I must say that it is much more nostalgic than hilarious - not only from the point of view of a Kapil fan or an Indian fan, but also from the point of view of an eight year old. Andy, you had been lucky to watch that masterclass of an innings and acquiring that autograph from the first little master of international cricket. I am also really really doubtful howmany noncricketers had such a big fortune of having both of those! I should say that it almost brought tears to my eyes. And I always recognize those creations as the best which are capable of doing that. Hat off to you, Andy!

  • N.C.WIJESINGHE on January 29, 2011, 14:29 GMT

    Nice article. I am envious on 2 counts. Firstly Don's Autograph and you got to see such a classic match that was not telivised. I can recall as a Uni student I was watching some boring match featuring Australia while equally bored doing a tedious bibliography and getting scores from this remarkable match intermittently.

  • Vikranth on January 29, 2011, 13:21 GMT

    Batting, bowling, fielding or Captaincy!!! Kapil contributed in one department or the other....The dearth of quality allrounders like Kapil, Jimmy, Madan Lal and Binny is hurting the team badly..... Fantabulous knock by an inspirational player....... Salute to the Captain of "KAPIL DEVILS".......

  • Supratim Chaudhury on January 29, 2011, 6:42 GMT

    Mr. Zaltzman, this was truly a remarkable article. Especially, the way you brought out the tiny-in-appearance but great cricketing-experiences in a nutshell. But the best of them all was the 'numeric pun' of 17/5 and 175. Looking forward to enjoying more of your blogs. :)

  • stingh on January 29, 2011, 5:35 GMT

    Well done Andy,,, ur writing style bears the the same brutal elegance of Kapils batting... pleasure to read ur piece...

  • Vike on January 29, 2011, 4:50 GMT

    "her son was more interested in dead cricketers than alive family members"

    LOL

  • Varun on January 29, 2011, 3:48 GMT

    C'mmon Andy, you couldn't possibly be there on that eventful day!! Now, the next thing you'll say is that the only football match you saw was the 2005(Istanbul) Champions League Final!

  • Vishal on January 29, 2011, 2:48 GMT

    one word: HILARIOUS

  • vineet on January 29, 2011, 0:19 GMT

    Andy!!! U R THE MAN.... love reading ur blogs... u just made my day :)

  • Sree on January 28, 2011, 21:27 GMT

    "I scuttled past my mother, who looked on with resigned acknowledgement that her son was more interested in dead cricketers than alive family members...." Brilliant...

  • Magesh on January 28, 2011, 21:23 GMT

    Awesome..really enjoyed the article..the choice of words and humor.

  • Murali on January 28, 2011, 19:32 GMT

    I've generally found you very hard to read and a pain in the eyes.

    But I should say that this article is pretty good! Long and a bit didactic, but still a good read.

    Not bad Andy, not bad at all.

  • pady on January 28, 2011, 19:28 GMT

    I still remember that day... my first year when i was following cricket seriously. My dad came home, and asked me the scores. I said India must have lost as I heard it was 17 for 5. Then my dad said, Kapil had scored 175. I still can remember the high i had that day. I was floating.

    I still cannot think of an innings by any player after or before that in any form of the game which can match this innings. Ofcourse Zimbabwe at that time was like Ireland now.

  • CricketDope on January 28, 2011, 19:09 GMT

    Erm... mothers don't spawn sons (or any offspring for that matter). Fathers do that, Andy. Fathers do. Thought you'd have learnt that during your first fumbling encounters with love (or fumbling approximations thereof)? Peace, man! :)

  • Mahesh on January 28, 2011, 18:57 GMT

    Wow! Nostalgia through and through. How sad that arguably The Greatest ODI Inning went unrecorded by TV. It still feels so unreal that I won't be able to watch that inning even once. Andy, you are a blessed soul. 1, 7 and 5? What a connection! This is the best article I read on that epic innings. Wait a minute. Probably that inning is so great, that each new article I read sounds like the best.

  • Loganathan on January 28, 2011, 18:48 GMT

    Wonderful article - delightful as your other articles. The connection between Kapil's innings and the evolution of cricket since than is very insightful. Can't wait to read your disptaches from the subcon.

  • Anonymous on January 28, 2011, 18:31 GMT

    i wasnt born then !!

  • Anson Horace Bennette on January 28, 2011, 17:53 GMT

    Loved this one. I also loved the footnote about the Bradman Autograph

  • Milind K on January 28, 2011, 17:44 GMT

    I was a little older than you Andy, a young teenage boy, but I remember that match like yesterday. Through the crackling shortwave BBC signal my brother and I could scarcely believe our ears 9 for 4, 17 for 5. Things got a little better better - but at 78 for 7 all seemed lost. When Kirmani came in at 140 for 8 - 150 seemed gettable. That was when Kapil Paaji really went berserk - 6s and 4s at will. It remains in my mind the greatest WC innings, and since this is most likely the last WC as we know it - it may stay that way forever.

    Thanks by the way for such a lovely piece.

  • Anonymous on January 28, 2011, 17:27 GMT

    Awestruck Andy Zaltzman(DNB)!! kudos to your sense of humour! had me in splits!

  • Ismail on January 28, 2011, 17:25 GMT

    The choice of words by the author was extremely good. You were 8 in 1983, meaning you are 35/36 now, but you look mid 40's. Do something to your hair, man :)

  • Agnel Pereira, India/Bahrain on January 28, 2011, 15:54 GMT

    I feel jealous of you Andy that you watched that match! You were there when apparently only 2000 odd cricket lovers in that sleepy little town came to watch an inconsequential or irrelevant match between the qualifiers and also-rans, when Indians rued a BBC strike! You were an 8-year old at the ground, and I was a 8-year old playing the game of carrom with my friends, and desperately trying to tune into the BBC news on my Panasonic radio amidst heavy monsoon storm in a small town Mangalore in India..and I did not sleep that night in excitement of the sheer numbers I heard on the news!! 27 years later, last year, on a holiday, I had goosebumps when I passed by the Royal Tunbridgewells rail station on way to Hastings. 2 years earlier, had a chance to meet my ultimate hero Kapil in Bahrain. BTW, I think there is one more relevance for 1, 7 and 5. Its actually 17 fours and 5 sixes that Kapil hit in that innings as announced originally, but some confusion puts it as 16 fours & 6 sixes.

  • nachiketa joshi on January 28, 2011, 15:43 GMT

    Thanks for making us laugh - brilliant article!

  • ab on January 28, 2011, 15:27 GMT

    brilliant - thank you for a great ten minutes.

  • homerhk on January 28, 2011, 14:42 GMT

    Andy, I was at the same school as you and I also attended that fantastic match. Somehow my Dad had managed to get tickets to the match and sit in the Lord Mayor's tent. Although I didn't get any autographs I did have the honour of throwing back the ball a couple of times when Kapil's six hits came into the tent. As an Indian immigrant I think I appreciated it even more than most of the people in the stands and when I learned that this was one of the only world cup matches not to be televised (because of a BBC strike, if I remember correctly) I appreciated it even more!!

    that, and then watching India beat the West Indies in the final sold cricket on me for life; even during the torrid Tebbit test era when I got loads of grief for supporting India over all teams, including England. Nothing's changed to this day, although I do now bring myself to support England in the Ashes....

  • anil on January 28, 2011, 13:52 GMT

    Man, do you love your cricket? You are the "Absolute-God-of-spinning-drab-stats-into-heavenly-nuggets-of-cricket-gold-with-your-alternately-dry-flippant-and-phantasmagorical-comedy-devices". Welcome to the subcontinent and your dream gig. I will keep my eyes peeled for you on the stands here (those that are still standing, that is). If you are in Chennai or Mumbai, I'll take you out for authentic street food. You can then regale me with Mansoor Akhtar anecdotes while I educate you on the telltale symptoms of Delhi belly. Deal?

  • Michael Paterson on January 28, 2011, 13:40 GMT

    You found Bradman's autograph. I lost mine, which was also on a small scrap of paper, like a home made business card. My brother lost his too. Neither of us had a pictorial history of the Ashes so it is likley that a third moron also lost the Don's autograph. He evidently sent his autograph to anyone who wrote and asked for it. If only he had used bits of paper larger than 99.94 square millimetres.

  • nil on January 28, 2011, 13:07 GMT

    nice article andy! Are you visiting kolkata by any chance? sad they took away the ind-eng match :( i know you wouldn't have missed it for anything. would have liked to have your autograph then.

  • Jibi on January 28, 2011, 12:05 GMT

    Pajji tussi great ho. I have seen the world cup finals match innumerable times but yet still when Richards hits that shot and pajji runs i am always nervous , but pajji manages just fine every single time. It will always remain a regret in my life to have not watched the 175 knock.

  • ShriDevil on January 28, 2011, 12:02 GMT

    hey andy... do u really have an autograph of The Don ????? cud u plz plz plz plz plz plz plz plz plz plz take a shot f it an post it in ur next blog...

  • Balaji on January 28, 2011, 11:51 GMT

    Everytime I look at that scoreboard vs Zimbabwe, I am reminded of Einsteins quote about Gandhi, "Generations to come will scarce believe that such a one as this walked the earth in flesh and blood."

    Still after about 15+ years of cricket craze, I scarce believe that such a match happened in cricket and went unrecorded!

  • Gaurav on January 28, 2011, 10:45 GMT

    Loved that part " there are too few women in the world who are likely to be seduced by an offer to have a look at Bill Bowes’ autobiography. As my miniscule list of ex-girlfriends can testify."- Even in India, I understand what it feels like...LOL!!!!!

  • kharkhuwa on January 28, 2011, 10:43 GMT

    Great stuff, Andy. Keep them coming. Somehow it evoked memories how I used to enjoy watching and playing the game. Kapil Dev, wearing white (coloured clothing does not evoke the same image), connecting effortlessly with everything thrown at him, the red ball travelling to all corners of the park - that must have been a sight to behold!

  • David Jeyaraj on January 28, 2011, 10:31 GMT

    No one had made me laugh like you did, Mr. Zaltzman, in the past few days. I wish you had a better second name so that I need not scroll up to check the spelling.

  • Karthik on January 28, 2011, 9:50 GMT

    Entertaining throughout (as always). It's mindboggling how that single innings had such epic consequences for the state of the game, and how it would move forward from that point on. Kismet?Also, that footnote (were it shorter) could be put in the dictionary to define 'serendipity' - gave me goosebumps and brought a huge smile to my face.

  • Jay on January 28, 2011, 9:14 GMT

    I won't laugh at this, except at a place or two! But it was no doubt a wonderful and emotional article, I would say! Best luck Andy for 2011WC. May you get some more autographs.... lol....

  • Shibu.C on January 28, 2011, 9:04 GMT

    Nice one. happy to know that you have seen the Kapil's great innings and that too as a debutant. Lucky man!

  • Raks on January 28, 2011, 8:53 GMT

    Loved the Francis Bacon bit. Checked on Wikipedia and m still laughing about the way u described his death. Way to go Andy.

  • Harsimran on January 28, 2011, 8:34 GMT

    Excellent and hillarious :-)... I envy you for watching that historical innings..

  • ajsport on January 28, 2011, 8:30 GMT

    Bravo Andy! Bravo - brought back a lot of memories of a good time :) Ah, good ol' cricket!

  • Govind on January 28, 2011, 8:30 GMT

    Good one Andy though it is very un-Zaltzman-ish (except for the paragraph about your batting - I am sure the Don wouldn't want to bat like that even in his nightmare).

    By the way, how about giving me an autograph when you come to Chennai for Eng vs SA?

  • SR on January 28, 2011, 8:25 GMT

    Of all the articles I have read about that "175" innings, this one is the best! Hats off to you memory, not to forget your providence in witnessing that innings.

  • Arijit on January 28, 2011, 8:18 GMT

    Lovely. one of your best Mr. Zaltzman. You have written more humorous accounts, but this beats everything in its tone of nostalgia. feel so at one with your adolescents angsts Mr. Zaltzman - where being "cricket-crazy" is so much more than being a part of the "i love my india" gang.

  • Nitish on January 28, 2011, 8:04 GMT

    “1, 7 and 5. That’s a nice collection of numbers. I wonder if I can make them appear together on the scoreboard again. Hmm, let me think about that. Yes, I’ve worked it out, I can. I’ll take 1 for 75. No, no, scratch that, I’ve got an even better idea.”

    hahaha.. cool !!

  • Nishad Patel on January 28, 2011, 7:57 GMT

    If all details in this account are true, Sir, I would like to shake your hand when and if I do ever meet you.

  • Raja on January 28, 2011, 7:52 GMT

    Really nice article. What great luck in witnessing one of the greatest ODI innings ever ! I have also enjoyed collecting old second hand cricket books (my favourite is Arlott's Fred) and can understand the passion.

  • Shadab on January 28, 2011, 7:52 GMT

    very nostalgic

  • Pavan Aditya on January 28, 2011, 7:37 GMT

    Well written article.Totally acceptable that its not funny because an emotional article cant be funny.

  • Akash on January 28, 2011, 7:28 GMT

    I know better than to take you seriously, but do you really have Bradman's autograph?! Man, what a treasure!

  • Kabir on January 28, 2011, 7:21 GMT

    Brilliant as usual Andy!

  • suhas gadkari on January 28, 2011, 7:11 GMT

    nice article....comedy summmed with real facts....good work mr.zaltzman.....while u wer lucky 2 see dat kapil innings live.....iwe still crave to watch it on television....17 for 5 & 175....hehe...good observation.....keep the good work going...hope 2 see a new article soon....may be on sachin tendulkar!!

  • shreekanth .v.maha on January 28, 2011, 7:01 GMT

    u are a blessed person andy, for being witness in [8 yearold]flesh and body, that divine performance of Kapil Dev.In India there is a practice where by poor,infirm and old guys who can not perfom an ardous Pilgrimage either hug or touch the feet[depending on the age difference] of one who returns from such a pilgrimage, Andy if u happen to visit India those who are aware of ur blogging prowess will definitely hug u for being the SANJAY of the great Turnibrdge Wales Epic. Andy why not make a tour of ur Stand up acts in India while u cover the world cup,rest assured we indians are very generous with Cricket related personalities-ask Harsha Bhogle he will vouch for it-this is just a suggestion.I personally would love to pay and travel a few hundre kms to hear u live.

  • Bhaskar Agrawal on January 28, 2011, 6:35 GMT

    1, 7, and 5. Hats off, Andy, no one ever made that connection. A little low on humour but hey, i am a HUGE kapil fan and my big regret is that match going unrecorded by TV

  • Subir on January 28, 2011, 6:34 GMT

    Lovely piece Andy. I think you and John Oliver should together star in the Dream Gig !!

  • Hitesh on January 28, 2011, 6:28 GMT

    Really loved this one andy....The best description of kapil's 175 i've ever read...

  • Basim Khan on January 28, 2011, 6:26 GMT

    Hahahahah Andy you are hilarious!!!! The greatest cricket comedian of all time without a shadow of a doubt! Another extremely funny article mixed with great cricketing history! How do you do it? And good luck on your World Cup Tour, I can't wait to read your blogs or listen to your podcasts! On another note, the "Andy Zaltzman's World Cricket Podcast" seems to have discontinued, which is sad, but it was truly very funny! Wish you the best of luck on the world tour!

    P.S. Chris Tavare was not that GREAT of a batsman! Haha, just kidding.

  • Lakshmi Narsimhan on January 28, 2011, 6:26 GMT

    Awesome Andy. Great choice of words to describe one the (if not the best ever) retaliatory action in the history of cricket. I was 10 then and a mad cricket enthusiast (one with facts and figures on finger tips). Till this date i cannot believe what i read in the papers the next day. Thanks to BBC everyone of us have been deprived the privilege of watching such an outstanding game (albeit in highlights). You seem to have been at the right place at the right time to snatch the Don's autograph as well. Lucky you!!!

  • Rory on January 28, 2011, 6:19 GMT

    will you be bugling from bangladesh?

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  • Rory on January 28, 2011, 6:19 GMT

    will you be bugling from bangladesh?

  • Lakshmi Narsimhan on January 28, 2011, 6:26 GMT

    Awesome Andy. Great choice of words to describe one the (if not the best ever) retaliatory action in the history of cricket. I was 10 then and a mad cricket enthusiast (one with facts and figures on finger tips). Till this date i cannot believe what i read in the papers the next day. Thanks to BBC everyone of us have been deprived the privilege of watching such an outstanding game (albeit in highlights). You seem to have been at the right place at the right time to snatch the Don's autograph as well. Lucky you!!!

  • Basim Khan on January 28, 2011, 6:26 GMT

    Hahahahah Andy you are hilarious!!!! The greatest cricket comedian of all time without a shadow of a doubt! Another extremely funny article mixed with great cricketing history! How do you do it? And good luck on your World Cup Tour, I can't wait to read your blogs or listen to your podcasts! On another note, the "Andy Zaltzman's World Cricket Podcast" seems to have discontinued, which is sad, but it was truly very funny! Wish you the best of luck on the world tour!

    P.S. Chris Tavare was not that GREAT of a batsman! Haha, just kidding.

  • Hitesh on January 28, 2011, 6:28 GMT

    Really loved this one andy....The best description of kapil's 175 i've ever read...

  • Subir on January 28, 2011, 6:34 GMT

    Lovely piece Andy. I think you and John Oliver should together star in the Dream Gig !!

  • Bhaskar Agrawal on January 28, 2011, 6:35 GMT

    1, 7, and 5. Hats off, Andy, no one ever made that connection. A little low on humour but hey, i am a HUGE kapil fan and my big regret is that match going unrecorded by TV

  • shreekanth .v.maha on January 28, 2011, 7:01 GMT

    u are a blessed person andy, for being witness in [8 yearold]flesh and body, that divine performance of Kapil Dev.In India there is a practice where by poor,infirm and old guys who can not perfom an ardous Pilgrimage either hug or touch the feet[depending on the age difference] of one who returns from such a pilgrimage, Andy if u happen to visit India those who are aware of ur blogging prowess will definitely hug u for being the SANJAY of the great Turnibrdge Wales Epic. Andy why not make a tour of ur Stand up acts in India while u cover the world cup,rest assured we indians are very generous with Cricket related personalities-ask Harsha Bhogle he will vouch for it-this is just a suggestion.I personally would love to pay and travel a few hundre kms to hear u live.

  • suhas gadkari on January 28, 2011, 7:11 GMT

    nice article....comedy summmed with real facts....good work mr.zaltzman.....while u wer lucky 2 see dat kapil innings live.....iwe still crave to watch it on television....17 for 5 & 175....hehe...good observation.....keep the good work going...hope 2 see a new article soon....may be on sachin tendulkar!!

  • Kabir on January 28, 2011, 7:21 GMT

    Brilliant as usual Andy!

  • Akash on January 28, 2011, 7:28 GMT

    I know better than to take you seriously, but do you really have Bradman's autograph?! Man, what a treasure!