India’s win at the 1983 cricket World Cup was the first occasion when an underdog team achieved glory in the tournement. Led by Kapil Dev, very few would have predicted them to be the winners on the final day at the historic Lords cricket stadium.
But there is an unusual story associated with India’s road to the 1983 World Cup. Out of the squad of the 14 players, was the Andhra Pradesh born cricketer, Sunil Valson.
Valson was a 24-year-old young left handed medium fast bowler when he got selected in the team India squad. Unfortunately for him, he didn’t get a chance to play a single match in the entire world cup.
This isn’t unusual as it has happened with a lot of teams over the years. One of the most amusing stories is that of Ajit Agarkar and Parthiv Patel who didn’t play a single match in the 2003 World Cup in South Africa but were still given apartments at Lonavala’s luxurious Ambey Valley for being a part of the squad that reached the finals.
But sadly for Valson he never got a chance to represent India at the international level.
At the domestic level, he played for the teams Delhi and Railways. In a total of 75 matches, he took 212 wickets at an average of 25.35 with six 5-wicket hauls and one 10-wicket haul in a match. But clearly wasn’t enough for the selectors.
Just a day ago, Valson spoke to the PTI [Press Trust of India] when he was asked if he feels hurt for not getting a chance to play in the 1983 WC. He said, “Absolutely not. It didn’t hurt then when I was a youngster and it doesn’t hurt now that I am almost a senior citizen. There are 14 guys who won that World Cup and I was among the 14. No one can take that away from me.”
He also threw light on a lesser-known possibility of him almost getting a chance to play in the eleven. India’s fast bowler Roger Binny had some injury. If Binny had failed the fitness test, Valson would got a chance to play. “The way he ran [at the fitness test], I knew I won’t play. Roger was in great form and it was only fair that Kapil, Roger and Madan played all games,” he added.
But, but 16 years later Valson finally got a chance to wear the India jersey about which hardly anyone knows or, maybe, the incident hasn’t been considered important over the years.
Before the Indian team of 1999 was about to leave for the World Cup in England, a friendly match between team India of ’83 v/s team India of ’99 was played at Mumbai’s Wankhede Stadium.
And as luck would have it, not everyone from the ’83 team was fit to play the game 16 years later. Hence, Valson got a chance to enter the playing eleven with his 1983 team mates while wearing the blue Indian’s jersey.
Weirdly enough, there is hardly any info on the match on the internet, except THIS article. Obviously, the ’99 team won the match easily [Imagine the uproar if they would have lost!]. I vaguely remember Valson bowling in the match with a lot of enthusiasm. And why not?
That was the first and the last time he played for India.
Interestingly, the character of Valson will be played by the south Indian actor R Badree in Kabir Khan’s upcoming movie titled ’83. The film is based on India’s 1983 World Cup triumph where Ranveer Singh will be playing the character of Dev. [Read more HERE]
Valson is currently 60 and was the coach of Delhi Capitals in the recently concluded IPL [Indian Premier League].
By: Keyur Seta