Events and people that shaped the game

No. 32

The 1983 and 1987 World Cups

They marked a significant shift in cricket's balance of power from England to India

October 10, 2010

Text size: A | A

Indian fans watch a World Cup match outside a shop near the Charminar, Hyderabad, March 17, 2007
Indians became the biggest consumers of cricket in the 90s © AFP
Enlarge
Related Links

India's win in the 1983 World Cup remains the biggest upset ever in international cricket, but beyond all the glory that it brought India, the signal achievement of that victory was that it made one-day cricket matter to Indians. In the earlier World Cups, India had merely turned up to make the numbers, winning only one match, against East Africa, and losing to Sri Lanka, not yet a Test nation. If effigies were not burned on the streets back home after Sunil Gavaskar's 60-over 36 not out against England in 1975, it was because no one cared. Before the 1983 World Cup, India had played a mere 40 one-day matches and only six of those at home, the first of which came, amazingly enough, in late 1981.

Had India been as dismal in 1983, it is inconceivable that the country's administrators would have been emboldened to bid for staging rights for the 1987 World Cup, an event that marked the first significant shift in the balance of power in international cricket.

One-day cricket has been India's ticket to superpowerdom. Satellite television was a hungry monster and it fed ravenously on a diet of one-day cricket in the 90s, making Indians the biggest consumers, and in effect, India the biggest market in cricket. You could call the 1983 win a fluke, but rarely do flukes bring about transformations as profound as this one did.

By winning in 1983 and then hosting the tournament four years later (with Pakistan), India made it a global sport. By 2007, the tournament had been to its fifth continent.

In 1987, India got to host the tournament against much opposition from the so-called traditionalists. True, there was much travelling to do, the grassless wickets tended to favour the batsmen, and Asian fans were disappointed as there was no India-Pakistan final. Yet the Reliance Cup marked a turning point in many ways.

It was a major step in the shifting of the headquarters of the game from Lord's to Eden Gardens, culminating in the election of Jagmohan Dalmiya as the first Asian president of the ICC. It brought Indian sponsors into the frame - they have dominated most World Cups since. It saw the revival of then-lowly Australia, who under Allan Border beat England in the final. A decade-and-a-half later, Australia continue to be the leading international team. Post-modern cricket was born in 1987.

This article was first published in Wisden Asia Cricket magazine in 2003

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

FeedbackTop
Email Feedback Print
Share
E-mail
Feedback
Print

    Big-hearted, broad-shouldered Davo

Alan Davidson was a fine allrounder, who has spent his life serving Australian sport in various capacities. By Ashley Mallett

    Dubai-Dhabi-Doo

Rob Steen: Who knew the Middle East would one day become the centre of a cricket-lover's universe?

    Dhawan's bouncer problem

Aakash Chopra: Why the Indian opener would be well advised to shelve the hook and pull in Australia

    The last cricket bookseller

The home of Australia's first, and possibly last, full-time dealer of his kind is a treasure trove of cricket literature amassed over 45 years. By Russell Jackson

England's problem with attacking batsmanship

Jon Hotten: It has taken the country ages to get over its obsession with defensive batting

News | Features Last 7 days

Pakistan should not welcome Amir back

The serene team culture cultivated by Misbah and his men shouldn't be allowed to be disrupted by a player with a tainted past

November games need November prices

An early start to the international season, coupled with costly tickets, have kept the Australian public away from the cricket

A two-decade long dream

In 2011, MS Dhoni helped end a 28-year wait for India and gifted Sachin Tendulkar something he had craved throughout his career - to be called a World Cup champion

The wow and the sheesh

Coloured clothes, black sightscreens, two white balls: the game of cricket looked so different in 1992. But writing about it now seems more fun than watching it then

The inherent dangers of batting

The sickening blow that struck Phillip Hughes is a reminder of the ever-present dangers associated with facing fast bowlers, even while wearing a helmet

News | Features Last 7 days