Blog Thursday, June 25, 2015 - 05:30
The News Minute reader Lahar Appaiah, a corporate lawyer and avid cricket fan from Bengaluru, takes us through some speculative history.   Today, 32 years to the day India won it's first World Cup, we talk of three 'What Could Have Beens'. This is a story of three men who almost changed history.   1.) Gordon Greenidge, 1983   What really happened: Balwinder Singh Sandhu dismissed West Indian opener Gordon Greenidge with a famous in-swinger. Greenidge did not play at the ball, assuming it would miss the stumps. The ball swung in and bowled Greenidge. Some commentators believe that Greenidge was the man in form, and this dismissal was key to India's 1983 World Cup victory   Greenidge gets an innocuous ball outside the off-stump, from Indian medium pacer Balwinder Singh Sandhu. He goes on the back foot, intending to drive it through the covers. The ball seams in as he plays, takes the inside edge, hits the pad, and goes back to the bowler. Greenidge, one of the most feared batsmen on earth, puts this minor irritation behind him, scores a century, and secures a 9 wicket victory for the Windies, as they easily overhaul the 183 that surprise finalists India had managed.   India lets out a collective sigh of disappointment, then moves on.  The country, Olympic hockey champions (thanks to a Western boycott in 1980), moves on to hockey, seeking solace. The heavy media coverage of hockey ensured a lot of sponsor interest, and the hockey team,  flush with funds, ignored the disappointment of narrowly missing a semi-final slot at the 1984 Olympics, going on to win the 1988 Olympic Gold. A year earlier, the 4th Cricket World Cup had quietly taken place in England, where India were eliminated in the group stage- their second major exit in 2 years, following the 1985 World Championships in Australia.   Hockey in India grew from strength to strength, helped by a cash-rich Hockey India, which used its growing influence to change the rules to ensure that matches were played on grass. This catered to the Indian team's traditional strengths, and astroturf, on which the Indian team had struggled, was soon abandoned. The team won silver in 1992, gold in 1996, and gold again in 2000, under their leadership of their astute captain, the goalkeeper Rahul Dravid.    Meanwhile, the Indian cricket team's following gradually dwindled. Today, old timers bemoan the downfall of a team that once boasted greats like Sunil Gavaskar (at one time the record holder for the most Test runs and centuries) and Kapil Dev (who was cruelly deprived of a chance to overtake Richard Hadlee's 431 wickets, because the Indian board couldn't find sponsors for a farewell series). Hockey, especially the glamorous Indian Premier League, takes up a lion's share of sports sponsorship, eyeballs and coverage.   2. B. C. Cooray, 1996.   What really happened: In the 1996 World Cup Semi Finals between Australia and West Indies, the West Indies were chasing 208. West Indian captain Richie Richardson swept the ball, which hit the square leg umpire, B.C. Cooray, in the head. The batsmen ran a single, though the ball would likely have otherwise have gone for a boundary. In a close match, Australia eventually won by 5 runs. Sri Lanka eventually defeated Australia in the finals   Richie Richardson, anchoring a small chase of 208 in the Semi-finals against Australia, went down on one knee, and swept the ball for 4. The ball went in the air, and whistled past the head of the Sri Lankan umpire, BC Cooray, who just about managed to get out of the way. Richardson stroked the next ball for 4 as well, getting a century, as the West Indies romped home.   After the match, Richardson sought out Cooray. "Close shave, eh?" Said Richardson. Cooray laughed "It's not about me, man. Imagine if the ball had hit me. You would have only taken a single, got off strike, not hit the 4 next ball, Warne would have triggered a collapse, and West Indies would have lost by 5 runs". "And Australia would have made it to the finals" added Richardson, jokingly.   The men laughed.   The finals, of course, saw a Lara special. He easily conquered the Lankan spinners, scoring a breathtaking century, as the Windies took the game away from Sri Lanka in the first 20 overs. The West Indies returned home as heroes, and the huge media attention meant that their next few series were keenly followed.    Cricket, which some pessimists had said was on the decline, saw a resurgence, as a new generation of fast bowlers and exciting, cavalier batsmen emerged. The West Indies would go on to dominate international cricket again, easily dispelling the threat from an Australian team that tried it's best to dominate, but never quite managed to be the world's greatest cricket team.   3. Herschelle Gibbs, 1999.   What really happened: Australia needed to defeat South Africa in a league match, to qualify for the next stage. With all frontline batsmen dismissed, Steve Waugh played a crucial innings to take Australia home. Before that, Herschelle Gibbs famously dropped Waugh, prematurely celebrating a catch. Australia would win the match, qualify for the semi-finals, and go on to win the World Cup. Meanwhile, Zimbabwe's infamous land redistribution initiative was believed to have led to mass emigration, and the current state of the Zimbabwean economy   The ball nestled snugly into Herschelle Gibbs' hands, as the dangerous Steve Waugh slowly trudged back to the pavilion. Australia would go on to lose the game, and exit the competition, ensuring that Zimbabwe qualified for the semi-finals for the first time.   Zimbabwe was an exciting team- solid players like captain Alistair Campbell, Heath Streak and Murray Goodwin complemented match-winners like the supremely talented all-rounder Neil Johnson, the great Andy Flower and the exciting fast bowler Henry Olonga. They easily defeated an unpredictable Pakistan in the first semi-finals, before meeting favorites South Africa in the finals. South Africa inexplicably collapsed, meaning that Zimbabwe became the first African nation to win the World Cup.   The team returned home as heroes, and were upheld as a model of racial integration and harmony. The team, many of them comprising of white Zimbabwean farmers, used the opportunity to speak to President Mugabe and the Zimbabwean parliament about the growing unease at the proposed land redistribution movement. With some mediation from England, a compromise was hammered out, with a redistribution formula that was widely acknowledged to be fair and equitable.    The accolades started pouring in for Zimbabwe, and the country attracted international trade and investment. It is today considered a model country for racial harmony and post-colonial integration. The cricket team, led by captain Gary Ballance, continues to build on the foundations laid by Tatenda Taibu.   Meanwhile, Mugabe would be awarded the Nobel Peace prize in 2009, handily beating long-shot candidate Barack Obama.   Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this articles are the personal opinions of the author. The News Minute is not responsible for the accuracy, completeness, suitability or validity of any information in this article. The information, facts or opinions appearing in this article do not reflect the views of The News Minute and The News Minute does not assume any liability for the same. Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this articles are the personal opinions of the author. The News Minute is not responsible for the accuracy, completeness, suitability or validity of any information in this article. The information, facts or opinions appearing in this article do not reflect the views of The News Minute and The News Minute does not assume any liability for the same. - See more at: http://www.thenewsminute.com/article/meet-jayanti-dharam-teja-lalit-modi... Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this articles are the personal opinions of the author. The News Minute is not responsible for the accuracy, completeness, suitability or validity of any information in this article. The information, facts or opinions appearing in this article do not reflect the views of The News Minute and The News Minute does not assume any liability for the same. - See more at: http://www.thenewsminute.com/article/meet-jayanti-dharam-teja-lalit-modi... Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this articles are the personal opinions of the author. The News Minute is not responsible for the accuracy, completeness, suitability or validity of any information in this article. The information, facts or opinions appearing in this article do not reflect the views of The News Minute and The News Minute does not assume any liability for the same. - See more at: http://www.thenewsminute.com/article/meet-jayanti-dharam-teja-lalit-modi... Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this articles are the personal opinions of the author. The News Minute is not responsible for the accuracy, completeness, suitability or validity of any information in this article. The information, facts or opinions appearing in this article do not reflect the views of The News Minute and The News Minute does not assume any liability for the same. - See more at: http://www.thenewsminute.com/article/meet-jayanti-dharam-teja-lalit-modi... Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this articles are the personal opinions of the author. The News Minute is not responsible for the accuracy, completeness, suitability or validity of any information in this article. The information, facts or opinions appearing in this article do not reflect the views of The News Minute and The News Minute does not assume any liability for the same. - See more at: http://www.thenewsminute.com/article/meet-jayanti-dharam-teja-lalit-modi...  
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