By Shirshendu Roy*
The first ever Odia player to have played in a cricket World Cup, Debasis Mohanty’s journey at the World Cup might have been short but his association with it will always be a part of the folklore. To everyone’s surprise, the 1999 World Cup logo was modelled along the bowling action of none other than Mohanty himself. Only two editions prior to 1999, the International Cricket Council had conceived the idea of creating a logo for every World Cup. In 1999, the ICC was looking for a bowler’s action to be used for the graphical logo. So impressed and allured they were by Mohanty’s animated high jump and open chested bowling action that the creative team modelled their logo on him. Portrayed with beautiful colours, this is one moment that swells up every Odia’s chest with pride.
I am a proud Odia. I am proud of the cultural heritage that our state boasts of. I am proud of its history and the horizon of opportunities it is looking ahead at. I am proud of the serenity of this land, the piousness, the rich tradition and culture, the boundless mineral reserves, the simplicity of the people and the unforgettable love that shall soak you in. I am proud of the legends our state has produced, many of whom have put our state on the world map. Our Odia heroes have been at the epicentre, right from the times we fought for our independence to the current times when we as an Odia individual feel proud and independent. And Debasis Mohanty is one such fellow Odia who took our state to the international level and weaved a dream for many of us to follow.
Orissa’s (now Odisha) greatest ever fast bowler, Debasis Mohanty is a legend narrated to kids in every nook and cranny of the state. Having found his love and passion for fast bowling and then nurturing it at a very tiny yet popular coaching centre, Sahid Sporting Club in Bhubaneswar, Mohanty went on to represent India for the first time in the year 1997. Though Mohanty’s performances weren’t shaking up the cricket establishments upside down, he was good enough to be persisted with and his fire in the belly kept propelling him farther. Interestingly, Mohanty wasn’t included in the probables’ list for India’s campaign at the 1999 ICC Cricket World Cup in England but in a surprise turn of events, he was flown to England with the team to represent India at the biggest event of the most followed sport of the country. Although, India’s performance was forgettable but our young Odia lad had returned with the second most number of wickets for India, only two behind Srinath’s 12. Mohanty’s inconsistency and India’s the then frequent chopping and changing in the team saw him exit the scenes soon after, following which he never returned to play for India.
Also read: What is Debasis Mohanty up to these days?
Ironically, even if Mohanty wasn’t picked to play in the World Cup that year, his graphical imagery would have anyway played on millions of TV sets around the world. Ever since, this is going to be the second World Cup to be played in India. Last time in 2011, neither did we have an Odia representation in the team nor did we host a match. The scene hasn’t changed much five years later as the World Cup returns to India. While the whole state rues this, they can always stand tall and claim that there has never been another World Cup logo on any cricketer, the first and the last is ours, our very own Debasis Mohanty.
*The author Shirshendu Roy is a noted international cricket commentator with cricbuzz for the last nine years and is a media research scholar at the Central University of Odisha. Apart from sports, he writes on a wide array of topics.