Debasis Sen, Southampton: The Neville Ground in Tunbridge Wells will always have a special place in the minds of Indian cricket fans. It was on this ground Kapil Dev played an innings that defined Indian cricket on this day 36 years back. Kapil played the innings (175*) of his life, resurrecting the Indian innings. India was in tatters on 17/5 with Gavaskar, Srikkanth, Amnarnath, Patil and Yashpal back in the hut. Kapil stepped in the middle and what happened next was history. The innings that Kapil played on that day will forever be talked about in Indian cricket. India ended up winning the match, defeating Zimbabwe by 31 runs, which also kept them alive in the tournament. Kapil’s Devils went on to lift the Prudential World Cup defeating Clive Lloyd’s West Indies in the final at Lords.
The Nevill Ground, which is situated at Turnbridge Wells, is 45 minutes on train from London’s Charing Cross station. The 1983 World Cup match was the only international match played at the venue till date. The ground still remains the same with the dressing room situated along with the members stand. The small gallery has also remained the same as it was 36 years back.
According to Kapil Dev, “I visited the ground five years back. But since then have not visited again. All I remember was Roger (Binny) and Kiri (Kirmani), gave me a lot of confidence. They just assured me to play freely.”
The former World Cup-winning captain is coming to England on June 28.
Recently in a programme at Lords, the great Sunil Gavaskar shared a few superstitious incidents in the small dressing room at the Neville ground. Gavaskar’s opening partner Krishnamachari Srikkant was asked not to stop smoking cigarette while Kapil was constantly going after the Zimbabwean bowlers. He was made to continuously smoke in the dressing room at the same place without moving an inch. Gavskar himself could not go to toilet till Kapil returned to the dressing room after playing that superlative knock.
The Neville Ground at Turnbridge Wells will always be remembered in Indian cricket history as it sowed the seeds of a redefined India.