Former India cricketer Pravin Amre’s only World Cup appearance was in the 1992 edition, a tournament that saw first-ever use of coloured clothing, white balls, and floodlights in a World Cup, as well as the debut of South Africa in the quadrennial tournament. In a chat with Amit Banerjee, Amre reminisces the experience of sharing the dressing room with legends, the memory of the victory over Pakistan in Sydney, and more.
For me, '92 was always special because we were in that era, we started playing cricket after getting inspired by Kapil Dev in 1983. For me, it was special to share a dressing room with Kapil Dev. And that really meant (a lot) to me because as a kid, that was the moment, the 1983 World Cup. That inspired me to play for the country.
That was a real dream come true to me, to share a dressing room with Kapil Dev in the World Cup. For me, the best thing was that this was the first World Cup with colour clothing, the jersey from that tournament is still an all-time favourite colour. I think that was the best dress ever in a World Cup, to be honest. White ball, floodlights, playing in New Zealand and Australia’s best grounds, and Channel Nine’s coverage...
To me, the World Cup experience is always different because, for us cricketers, the World Cup is like the Olympics — after four years, you get an opportunity to represent one’s country. That national anthem comes, and that feeling is totally different. You play series, but when you go for a World Cup, it’s always a different thing.
The mood in the Indian dressing room was so good and we were looked after really well. I was a junior along with the likes of Sachin (Tendulkar) and Vinod (Kambli), but they (seniors) really looked after us very well. We never felt like we were playing for the first time. They tried to give us the space to go and play our natural game.
We played so many close games, against Australia also. The Sri Lanka game was a must-win and in the end, only a single ball (sic) was bowled. So much effort was put in by the organisers to make sure that game should start on time, but it could not happen, and that point actually mattered.
It was a great tour. The Sydney game, we’ll never forget that moment, beating Pakistan in front of that Sydney crowd. I still remember that crowd support was tremendous. That was a real experience for me to be honest. We all talk about India-Pakistan, and to me, it was a real experience to be part of that dressing room. How we prepare ourselves, how the seniors talk in that meeting, how the managers speak in that, how to go and control your emotions. Because you may talk about everything, but that special thing happens when you play against Pakistan. That charge-up is totally different. People are not worried if you don’t win the World Cup, but you have to win that game. It comes to that.
I still remember the way we celebrated after winning that game, was so special, to be honest. To me, it was special because that particular year so many legends played at the World Cup. When we talk about Pakistan, Imran and Wasim were there. West Indies had Lara and Desmond Haynes.
I still remember that photograph, the unique photograph in front of the warship. These are some of the things you cannot forget. I’m not talking as a cricketer, but for the general public as well, those are memories for a lifetime. I still remember those days they used to make a card about us, and they would show me the same when I would meet them many years later. So you feel great about it. It took place 26 years ago, but you feel like it happened yesterday.
The experience of the 1992 World Cup helped me when I played the South Africa Test in difficult conditions. When you play a World Cup, you start thinking that you belong to that level, and I think that’s exactly what happened to me.
As far as the standout memory from that tournament is concerned, nobody can compare to winning the match against Pakistan in Sydney. You play for that. It was like a mission for us. It was not a mission for the team, but for the country. Even though I didn’t play that game, but still I felt like I was part of that. I played other matches, including the one against England, but to me, that game was special. Basically, I learnt how to hold your nerves in those moments.