Kapil’s World Cup 175

The ever-witty Andy Zaltzman on the famed India v Zimbabwe World Cup match in 1983.


Andy Zaltzman’s World Cup Memories
Andy Zaltzman’s Confectionary Stall Blog
Part One of a New One-Part Series
Jan 28, 2011
Man versus rhododendron

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.

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: … 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.) more…

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