ICC World Cup postmortem: Snub to Kapil, Dhoni & fans’ unsporting behaviour emerge as sore points

Most of the cricket community feels all of the 1983 & 2011 winners should have been invited to the final showdown, with India hosting the world

Kapil Dev holding the 1983 ICC World Cup at BCCI office in Mumbai. (photo: @therealkapildev/X)
Kapil Dev holding the 1983 ICC World Cup at BCCI office in Mumbai. (photo: @therealkapildev/X)

Gautam Bhattacharyya

The morning after India’s heartbreak at the World Cup final, two other issues have become major talking points at the end of the 45-day extravaganza.

The first one is certainly an interview with Kapil Dev, with the legendary 1983 World Cup winning captain saying he was not invited for the final.

The other regards the unsporting behaviour from the crowd at the Narendra Modi Stadium. 

“I wasn’t invited. They didn’t call me so I did not go. As simple as that," Dev, the greatest allrounder India has ever produced, said in an interview with ABP News. And this surely has stirred up a hornet’s nest.

"I wanted the whole ’83 team to be there with me, but I guess due to the fact that it’s such a big event... and people are so busy handling responsibilities, sometimes they forget,” the veteran added.  

Social media is agog with comments that with India hosting a 50-overs World Cup after 12 years, one expected a bit more grace from the BCCI. Inviting all the members of their World Cup-winning squads from 1983 and 2011 — the only two occasions India has won the trophy — was surely the least they might have done?

It’s common practice in such sporting get-togethers to invite former captains or sporting legends. The Cricket Association of Bengal (CAB) has set that precedent a number of times, for example. And certainly the photo ops around Tendulkar gifting his jersey to Virat Kohli yesterday more than prove the point that it would have been appreciated.  

O his X handle, noted cricket pundit Ayaz Memon wrote:

‘BCCI should have invited ALL members of 1983 and 2011 WC winning teams for final to showcase India’s rich cricket history. All razzmatazz, brouhaha, galaxy of film stars, biz head honchos & politicians no substitute for that.’
Ayaz Memon, aka Cricketwallah

On Sunday morning, Memon has followed it up with another post:

‘’Particularly disappointing considering Roger Binny, stellar member of 1983 winning team is BCCI President. If the issue has been misunderstood, the Board should clarify.’’ 
Ayaz Memon, aka Cricketwallah

The (non-)invitation debacle got a further twist from a media report that the International Cricket Council (ICC) had apparently invited former World Cup-winning captains of other nationalities — from Clive Lloyd to Eoin Morgan — as guests to the final match!

That list should then have included both Kapil Dev and Mahendra Singh Dhoni; but neither of them was present on the occasion.   

When contacted, a ICC spokesperson clarified: ‘’We never made any announcement of the sort (invitation to captains).’’

The onus was surely then on the BCCI to plan something on these lines, especially at such a grand affair, where the Bollywood glitterati were out in full force as guests of corporate giants with their own dedicated stands — from Shah Rukh Khan and family to Dipika Padukone and her sporting legend father. 

Meanwhile, the vast number of Indian supporters present at Narendra Modi stadium also went out of their own way, literally, to earn themselves a bad name that rivals the BCCI's now eggy face.

Their lukewarm response when Travis Head, justly named Player of the Final, reached his century was not only noted by foreign media but even cricket fans at home, who hung their heads in shame and shook their heads on social media.

Head's was an extraordinary century yesterday; but was greeted only with some muted clapping. 

As Bharat Sundaresan, a senior cricket writer with Cricbuzz, wrote on X: ‘’Twice in the same year, Travis Head has played an all-time (great) innings in a big world final against India. If the WTC knock at The Oval, was special, this one[] is extraordinary & the quietest reception you’ll ever hear for a World Cup final century.’’ 

Meanwhile, Australian media outlet news.com.au reported an incident of booing from a section of the crowd when the day's on-field umpires Richard Kettleborough and Richard Illingworth were called to the podium to receive mementoes. 'There were no particularly controversial calls made through the match — and it seems fans simply needed to find some kind of target to vent their disappointment at watching their side fall at the final hurdle,' the report read. 

The mob mentality, however, brings about the ugly side of fans at venues even with a longstanding reputation.

The only time a World Cup semi-final was postponed in history was the one between India and Sri Lanka in 1996, at the Eden Gardens, where the hosts hurtled to a collapse during the chase. The match had to be abandoned due to fans throwing water bottles and other objects on the field — with the ICC later awarding the cup to Lanka as a result.  

The sense of disappointment also got the better of the Indian team, most of whom left the field midstream through the trophy presentation to the Australian team by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, just after shaking hands with their opponents.

Sure, it must have rankled, to lose at home after an undefeated run; but this was just not cricket… 

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