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September 1, 1998


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The Rediff Cricket Interview / Kapil Dev

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'You should only think of your next match'

Since this is a preparation camp for the World Cup, what thoughts do you have about the strategy to be followed...?

Kapil Dev Do you understand Hindi? (This, with a quizzical look and when I say yes, the rest of his response comes in chaste Hindi) If you stand under a mountain and look up, you will get a bad pain in the neck. If you look at the ground and take one step, and then another step, then you come to a little bump. You think of how to climb over it; then you find a gap and you jump over it and you go on like that, one step at a time, and suddenly, you find yourself standing on top of the mountain.

Tournaments like the World Cup, they are a bit like that -- you can't start out by thinking of how you will play the final at Lord's. You look at your first opponent and you think how to defeat him, then you think of your next opponent. It doesn't matter who you think you might meet in the final, you should only think of your next match. That is the only way to win a tournament, that is what we did in 1983, we played one match at a time...

I noticed you spent a lot of time with Sachin just now, in the dressing room -- what were you talking about?

What do two cricketers talk about when they meet? (He laughs.) We talked about cricket, naturally.


No, no, this is not like you media people, asking questions and giving answers -- we just chatted, he told me things, I told him things, that is all, just a private conversation.

You are in the forefront of revolt against the Haryana Cricket Association -- what is that all about?

Well, the secretary, Ranbir Singh, he runs the HCA like his private business. I don't know if there is any paperwork done -- if there is, he doesn't show them to anyone. I have faxed him about it, I presume he has seen the fax, but he has not even bothered to respond. The trouble is that he is running it on his own, and is not interested in what is good for Haryana cricket. So some of us, past and present players, have got together.

How do you plan to force his hand?

I can't do that, only you people in the media can... If you are interested in cricket then you and your friends in the media should do something now.

Like what, Kapil?

Kapil Dev with Azhar Well, you call him, ask him to explain his stand, ask him to show you the accounting, after all it is a public document, he should show it to you. Then you write, about how things are being run...

But how about your own role? Do you plan to contest elections against him?

No, I don't believe in elections.

With due respect, is that arrogance? 'Kapil Dev will not contest an election', that kind of thing?

No, why should I be arrogant? After all, as a cricketer, I have achieved whatever I could, I am not a politician. If I am involved today, it is because I am from Haryana, and I am keen to see that conditions there don't get worse. Why I said I don't believe in elections is, you see, you make me secretary for one hour and see what I can do. I can bring in 100 new members. They will all be my people and then even the President of India can't defeat me... I don't believe in that kind of elections, that is what I am saying.

But you plan to continue your campaign against Ranbir Singh? Or are you waiting for the media pressure to build?

(At this point, Bobby Simpson comes up to Kapil, wanting to know how long he will be at the stadium. "All day," Kapil assures the coach.

When will he talk to the boys? "Any time you tell me," says Kapil. Will you join them in nets after the match? "Sure, no problem, I'm glad to. That's why I am here." Okay, can we talk for a while first? Bobby asks. "Just a minute, I'll come over," says Kapil, then asks me to repeat my last question...)

No, no, I'm not waiting for anyone or anything -- what I can do, I will continue to do. I only meant that you people also have a role to play, you can't simply sit back and ask questions and that's it... Now I have to go.

Kapil, one last question...?

What? (This one comes across as a definite bark)

What's your golf handicap?

Kapil playing Golf (The all-rounder throws his head back, laughing uproariously) That is the first time anyone asked me that question in a cricket interview. It's three!

Proud of it?

Very proud -- and you ask me again six months later, you see, I will have brought it down further...

Your strength is supposed to be driving -- those who have watched you say you hit a very long ball off the tee. As good as Tiger Woods?

(Laughs again) I hit the ball a long way, yes. Tiger Woods? I don't know -- tell me, can he bowl as well as Kapil Dev?


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