World Cup winning captains relive historic moments

Thursday, December 9, 2010

NEW DELHI - They ushered cricketing renaissaince in the sub-continent leading their teams to World Cup victories in 1983, 1992 and 1996. The legends — Kapil Dev, Imran Khan and Arjuna Ranatunga — spoke their minds on captaincy and how they turned it around for their teams.

At ESPN’s promotional event for World Cup 2011, the three along with another towering figure of the game, Vivan Richards, who played a major role in West Indies victory in 1975 and 1979, shared interesting anecdotes, and moments that have become part of the cricketing history.

Giving a peek into the tough job, Imran, who came out of retirement to lead Pakistan to World Cup victory in 1992, recalled how he fought with selectors to include Inzamam-ul Haq in the World Cup squad.

“I called Wasim and Waqar to bowl to Inzamam at the nets and seeing him play them, I decided that he will be in the team. I told him that he would play World Cup. The quality of a batsman is judged by how well you play fast bowlers and I think after Viv, if anyone had that extra time to play fast bowlers, it was Inzamam,” Imran recalled.

“I told the selectors I need him in the team and they said ‘That fat guy. He is no good’. But I insisted that Inzamam has to be in the team. One of the selectors even resigned on the issue, but he was picked in the squad.”

Imran said a captain cannot inspire the team if he is not performing.

“The moment you are performing, you get the conviction to take positive decisions. The team looks up to the captain in respect if he performs when the team needs him.”

Asked how he took care of a volatile character like Javed Miandad, Imran burst into a laughter. “I am seeing Javed since he was 18 and believe me he is still the same. The process of evolution has bypassed him.”

“But Javed is a great fighter. You always knew that in pressure situations, he would give more than hundred percent. A good captain knows who are the players you can trust in a particular situation.”

Kapil recalled how Madan Lal almost snatched the ball from him to bowl that extra over that fetched the wicket of Vivian Richards and he took one of the greatest catches running behind to get rid of the dangerous batsman.

“I remember Madan got hit for a few boundaries by Richards in the previous over. The way Viv was playing, he was taking the match away from us. But Madan desperately wanted to bowl another over and almost snatched the ball from me. Now you know when a bowler has so much of confidence, you give in.”

“When he played that shot, my heart was in my mouth. I was just shouting ‘mine, mine’. I think it was Yashpal coming from fine leg, but I kept on shouting and allowed my reflexes to do the rest,” Kapil said.

“When Viv is around, we don’t normally talk about that catch,” Kapil said turning to Viv, evoking laughter.

“I don’t know from where did he (Kapil) come to take that catch. When I saw Kapil running back, I knew my time was over,” Richards recalled.

Kapil said that the victory against Zimbabwe at Tunbridge Wells where he scored that magnificient 175, proved the turning point.

“Before that we had beaten West Indies in the first match, but we never believed we can win the World Cup. But against Zimbabwe we fought back from 17 for five. If a team can come back from such a situation, it fills the players with self-confidence. It was then that we thought we can win the World Cup,” Kapil said.

“If you perform, you command respect from the team,” Kapil said.

Arjuna Ranatunga’s run-ins with Australia are well-known and he spoke how he beat them in their own game in the 1996 World Cup.

“Australia, you know, will start playing the mind games before the start of any tournament in press conferences and other places. So I started early and made a statement in the media that Waugh brothers and Shane Warne are over-rated cricketers. The ploy worked for us.”

“They were focussing their energy on that. When I went out to bat in the final with Aravinda at the other end, and we needing 100 runs to win, I heard them saying ‘the great cricketer has come, we are ordinary cricketers’. I told Aravinda let us focus on the game. I can handle them,” he said.

“Yes we wanted to play Australia in the final. We were upset that Australia and West Indies did not come to play in Colombo and we were there in the quarterfinals without doing anything. So we wanted to win.”

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