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Star Of India’s 1983 World Cup Cricket Champs Has Stuck With The Sport Through Coaching

THE 1983 STUNNER: BALWINDER SINGH SANDHU

“The game has changes drastically but I believe for the better as there are a lot of exciting elements and the fans love it,” Indian bowling legend Balvinder Singh Sandhu told The LINK. “The players are also making more money. I remember when we won the world cup, the Board of Cricket Control India (BCCI) didn’t even have money for the 1 lakh bonus to the players and they had to ask the legendary singer Lata Mangheskarji to do a benefit for the team and today average players are making crores.”

By R. Paul Dhillon

SURREY – India’s star cricket from the historic 1983 world cup cricket victory Balvinder Singh Sandhu still cherishes the sport that made him a household name in India and he has given back to the sport through his decades long coaching career where he has help churn out not only top junior and international level cricketers but also great coaches who are necessary to India’s cricket development talent given its prestigious international standing in the sport.

“The surprise victory over the West Indies was a defining moment in the history of Indian sport,” Sandhu told The LINK at an interview at our office, where he stopped by during his recent visit to Vancouver.

Sandhu, who is famous for his in-swinging bowling delivery to Gordon Greenidge in India’s 1983 World Cup final victory, was born on August 3, 1956 and grew up largely outside Punjab.

Sandhu’s father Harnam Singh Naz is a well known Punjabi writer and newspaper editor who came from Lahore and settled in Bombay (now called Mumbai), where Sandhu grew up watching his father be an active part of the communist movement in India following independence and worked with comrades like Indian film legend Balraj Sahni.

Growing, Sandhu was a keen sportsman but cricket was not his first love. He was in fact a top Badminton player but only got involved with cricket during a down time where he needed do something. And he took to cricket like gangbusters and was quickly picked for the Bombay team squad, slowly making his way up the ladder to the junior India teams and then eventually to the India team in 1982.

It was the following year that he got to show his talent and excel at the international level as the top India team bowler in the 1983 world cup against West Indies, where the Indian squad was a big underdog but found a team synergy to bring home the World Cup.

It was Sandhu’s magic delivery against Wes Indies topper Greenidge, to whom he delivered a once in a lifetime ball the Batter swung in precociously and knocked the top of off-stump to spark celebrations in the Indian camp. That delivery made Sandhu a part of Indian cricketing folklore — a hero of India’s first major triumph on the world stage.

Though Sandhu is often remembered for that delivery, he was a cricketer with good all-round skills. Sandhu emerged from Bombay (as Mumbai was known then) to represent India in eight Tests and 22 One-Day Internationals (ODIs).

After his professional playing career came to a halt, Sandhu has remained steadfast in the sport that brought him glory through being Level 3 Coach on the national level, where he trains other coaches for the junior, city and national leagues.

Sandhu said the game has changed for the better now with more attacking, aggressive style and shorter 20/20 versions of the game which are becoming very popular with the fans of the sport.

“The game has changes drastically but I believe for the better as there are a lot of exciting elements and the fans love it,” Sandhu said. “The players are also making more money. I remember when  we won the world cup the Board of Cricket Control India (BCCI) didn’t even have money for the 1 lakh bonus to the players and they had to ask the legendary singer Lata Mangheskarji to do a benefit for the team and today average players are making crores.”

Sandhu has also had a prestigious coaching career at various levels including the Bombay team, where his team only lost one game. He has also excelled in training coaches at the National Cricket Academy.

Not wanting to address the controversies and corruption that has befallen the now cash rich BCCI, Sandhu said it is a well organized group and have sorted out many of the problems it had been plagued with and is helping former players with pensions and benefits.

“See it is the responsibility of any good sports organization to look after its players and that they are doing and the future of Cricket is in good hands as many players are also involved as it is a non-profit organization with one clear mandate and that is to promote the game of cricket,” Sandhu said.

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