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Home truths for Lord’s
- World cricket has moved on: Shastri

London, June 26: The home of cricket should move out of Lord’s to somewhere like India, Ravi Shastri appeared to suggest last night.

This is the only interpretation which can be placed on his challenging remark that “Lord’s used to be the centre of world cricket” but that “things move on”.

Technically speaking, the International Cricket Council moved out of Lord’s to Dubai four years ago for tax reasons but Lord’s, where the Marylebone Cricket Club is based, still likes to describe itself as “the home of cricket”.

Although a member of the Indian touring side in 1983, Shastri, then 21, was left out of the final against the West Indies. “I wasn’t good enough — fair enough,” he acknowledged.

Shastri, now 46, made the comment last night when he was called upon by Kapil Dev to give a vote of thanks after the 25th anniversary dinner held at Lord’s Long Room to mark India’s 1983 World Cup victory.

Shastri repeated his assertion that Lord’s used to be the centre of world cricket. He placed emphasis on the word, “used”, pausing for effect as though to make sure the full meaning of his words was understand by English guests present at the dinner.

In some ways, time appeared to stand still as Kapil led his players on to the field which was looking especially lush yesterday in the last rays of the evening sun.

Afterwards, the players appeared on the Lord’s balcony with the very cup Kapil had lifted on June 25, 1983.

The photo opportunity had to be slowed down to enable BCCI president Sharad Pawar, 67, to climb up to the top to take centre stage, alongside Vijay Mallya, the UB and Kingfisher chairman who paid for last night’s celebration.

Their presence was ample demonstration that the power of Indian money was forcing through change in the old order. Mallya was not present at Lord’s in 1983 though that did not prevent him from ensuring his company logos were conspicuous by their presence yesterday.

“I had the proud privilege of witnessing M.S. Dhoni winning the Twenty20 World Cup in South Africa (last year) and Virat Kohli the Under-19 Cup in Malaysia this year,” he announced. “They both said they were inspired by the World Cup team of 1983.”

Although Kapil was generous in recognising Dhoni’s accomplishment as being historically as important as his, it is the victory at Lord’s that will always be remembered as a cut above all else.

That is because it took place at Lord’s, whose atmosphere most cricket lovers realise cannot be reproduced in Calcutta or Mumbai — venues whose charms are different.

To be fair, even at Lord’s, things are not quite what they were back in 1983. Indians dining in the Long Room could see through the open window the dark silhouette of the space age Media Centre which came into being only in 1999. The turf on the ground, which has a slope of eight feet between the north-west and south-east corners, has been relayed and the underground drainage much improved. The number of seats has also been increased.

Back in 1983, many Indians could not get into the ground because tickets had been presold when few had thought India would enter the final.

Today, Indians have become proficient at using credit cards to buy tickets, even at high prices, while the well-to-do have become MCC members, eligible to wear the club’s striped ties. The tycoons in their midst think nothing of hiring expensive boxes for the purposes of corporate entertaining on big match days.

The composition of England sides has also undergone radical change. Today, India would have to confront players with names such as Ravi Bopara and Owais Shah as New Zealand did at the Oval in a bad tempered onedayer at the Oval yesterday.

Kapil said yesterday: “We are delighted to be back in this wonderful place. We just want to enjoy our memory.”

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