Kapil Dev: At heart I will always remain a cricketer

Kapil Dev, who turned 60 on Sunday, says “I don't know what I would have done without cricket."

Kapil Dev featured in 131 Tests (5248 runs and 434 wickets) and 225 ODIs (3783 runs and 253 wickets).   -  the hindu archives

Champions don't retire. They continue to command the attention of their fans. Like Kapil Dev who turns 60 on Sunday.

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What if he is not an active cricketer any more? He is involved with cricket as a media expert after having served the game as a player and coach. He continues to be one of the most sought-after cricket personalities a good 24 years from the day of his retirement from all forms of the game.

Former India captain Anil Kumble described him the best. “For my generation, he was the supreme cricketer you looked up to. There was nothing he could not do on the field. He could win matches on his own. I can never forget the Lord's balcony, with Kapil holding the World Cup aloft.

"That was the inspiration for me to play cricket. He brought credibility and class to the dressing room. I was privileged to have shared the dressing room with him. A great athlete who would have excelled at any sport,” said Kumble.

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He was a great athlete indeed. He was remarkable with his ability to convert tough catches into easy ones. He could run through the opposition and also decimate it with his batting prowess. His running between the wickets was effortless. Kapil was never run out in a Test match.

Kumble: "I was privileged to have shared the dressing room with him. A great athlete who would have excelled at any sport."   -  special arrangement

 

Illustrious career

Kapil spoke his mind, “I don't know what I would have done without cricket. I was good at most sport – football, tennis, hockey. I have played these games at different times but I was born to play cricket. Today, I spend a lot of time on the golf course but at heart, I will always remain a cricketer,” Kapil averred.

An impressive debut in Pakistan in 1978-79 laid the foundation of a career which ended in 1994 on home turf against the West Indies in Faridabad.

READ| Emotion recollected in tranquility: 1983 in Kapil's words

He featured in 131 Tests (5248 runs and 434 wickets) and 225 ODIs (3783 runs and 253 wickets). He would have ended with an enviable record of playing these Tests consecutively but for the selectors dropping him in his 66th match (in Delhi against England) in 1984 for what they thought was a “bad” shot. India suffered a defeat in that Test.

Kapil did feel sad at being dropped but observed that he could have avoided playing the shot which cost him a place in the next match.

He was brought back and never dropped again. But that episode continues to hurt him. Kapil reflects, “Representing the country and winning the World Cup are close to my heart. Life has been beautiful really.”