kapil dev

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Was Kapil stingy while critiquing Tendulkar, Mumbai’s last khadoos? (Updated)

Kapil Dev has either put his foot in his mouth or has been remarkably perspicacious.

Last week, Wisden’s greatest Indian cricketer of the last century made some outsized comments about India’s all-time greatest cricketer Sachin Tendulkar.

Speaking to Khaleej Times in Dubai, he said:

“He (Sachin) got stuck with Bombay cricket. He didn’t apply himself to ruthless international cricket. I think he should have spent more time with Vivian Richards than some of the Bombay guys who played just neat and straight cricket. He did not know how to make double hundreds, triple hundreds and 400 though he had the ability, and was stuck in the Mumbai school of cricket.”

Coming in the wake of Virender Sehwag’s retirement, India’s only triple centurion, the remarks raked up debates both about Sachin’s comparative contribution to Indian cricket and the continuing North-South divide in the country.

While Tendulkar, ever the gentleman, refused to respond to his former skipper’s barbs, Mumbai cricketers were up in arms.

Ajit Wadekar responded to the apparent dislike for Mumbai cricketers in the all-rounder’s observations thus:

“Yes, in a way, I can sense that dislike. I have been experiencing it since my University cricket days. A lot of Northern players disliked us. They enjoyed staying in Mumbai, but not playing against Mumbai.

In the final analysis, Sachin scored the maximum runs and is a true legend, and where Mumbai cricket is concerned, – we always – everyone including Sachin and Sunil Gavaskar – played for the team and not for ourselves. That’s why we won the Ranji Trophy 40 times. We knew how to win.”

Former Mumbai captain Raju Kulkarni said:

“I find Kapil’s comments absurd. It’s also very unfair to Sachin and Mumbai cricket. He’s talking about centuries of a man who has scored 100 international tons. We were brought up with our seniors telling us that when you get a hundred, go on and get a double and a triple, but don’t give your wicket away.I was at a function recently where Sunil Gavaskar was talking to a group of ex-cricketers. When he saw Chandrakant Pandit (Mumbai coach) leaving the room, Sunil left the conversation and went up to Chandu. I overhead him telling Chandu that Mumbai batsman Shreyas Iyer should look to get 200 after his 100 and if he can’t get 300, he should not get out. That’s the kind of cricket upbringing we had.”

Dilip Vengsarkar, vice-president of Mumbai Cricket Association, quipped:

“That’s his (Kapil’s) opinion. What can one say?”

Tendulkar has 51 Test hundreds to his credit. His highest score, however, was an unbeaten 248.

The ‘Mumbai cricketer‘, as an archetype, is renowned for his khadoos (cussedly never say die) attitude.

Hemant Kenkre writes:

“The answer lies not just in the many maidans of Mumbai – the breeding grounds for its cricketers – but in the psyche of the city; one that lures millions of people from all over India, whose life is ruled by the time-tables of the railway ‘locals’, traffic snarls, unending queues, crowded tenements, and many more hardships that the city dishes out to the worker ants that flock there in search of gold. After commuting for two hours in a crowded Mumbai train, no cricketer is ever going to give it away on a platter to the next one waiting in the tent. The city breeds the khadoos attitude in its cricketers. Mumbai, like cricket, does not give you a second chance.”

Kenkre also formulates a theory  for the decline in Mumbai’s fortunes in the Ranji Trophy and why fewer and fewer local cricketers are donning national colours.

“From the glorious fifties and the sixties, Mumbai’s domination has waned. The team may have won the Ranji Trophy often enough in recent times – and 39 times to date – but the current side, though competent, doesn’t resemble the ones of the past that dominated the tournament. The analysts attribute that to the rapid strides made by other states, but if you ask any former Mumbai cricketer, he will ascribe the decline to the lack of loyalty to clubs, and commercial distractions like the IPL. In the past it was very rare for a player to switch clubs, no matter what incentives were offered. The pride of wearing the club and state/city cap meant a lot more to the ‘amateur’ generation – and so it was when they wore the India blazer as well. It would seem the days when a Mumbai cricketer was fiercely loyal first to his club then to his state/city and the nation are behind us.”

Shamya Dasgupta voices similar thoughts:

“Khadoos cricket, yes, that’s what distinguished Mumbai. A team of players who refused to cede ground; a team that knew not only how to win, but more – how not to lose. That great Mumbai element – it seems to have vanished.”

Lalchand Rajput, in an interview in 2012, said:

“Earlier players never used to go to other associations, so they used to be here and try to retain their place in spite of not getting into the team. So they used to be more determined to get in to the team. But now they have options to play for other associations. That’s why that khadoos nature is a thing of the past. “

Ajit Wadekar, speaking to the Tribune in June this year, said:

“Mumbai cricketers’ ‘khadoos’ approach is missing. I am afraid to say that, but the rich legacy of Mumbai cricket hasn’t been carried forward by the younger lot of cricketers, for whom, the loyalty has shifted from representing the country to first securing an IPL contract with a franchise.

There’s no loyalty factor involved. The players are missing out on that wonderful feeling of playing as a unit, be it representing the Mumbai domestic side or featuring in the Indian team. These days, players don’t necessarily work on their basics. They experiment with their shots quite often. Also, the coaches at the academies tell the trainees that they are the next Sachin Tendulkar. This illegal mushrooming of academies is harmful. It’s a big money-making racket. These coaches promise the trainees of landing them an IPL contract and thus encourage them to play more like a T20 specialist.”

Vengsarkar added:

“What is required in Mumbai is advanced coaching. IPL has started the mushroom growth of coaches. I don’t know whether they give the right kind of inputs to the young cricketers. Mumbai cricket has fallen a great deal over the last 2-4 years. Mumbai won the Ranji Trophy for 16 straight years. I hope those days would come back. We have to revive it.”

Ajinkya Rahane and Rohit Sharma are the latest stalwarts from Mumbai representing the country at the highest level.

Sharma has yet to make his mark in Test cricket whereas he has slammed two double hundreds in ODIs and another in T20s. He is only the second Indian cricketer after Suresh Raina to have international hundreds in all forms of the game. While that seems impressive, the records are deceptive. Raina has failed miserably in Tests and is considered an ODI and T20 specialist. It is feared that Sharma might go the way of the hugely talented Yuvraj Singh who mustered just 20+ Test appearances in an otherwise stellar career.

That begs the question: Is Tendulkar Mumbai cricket’s last khadoos? 

Kapil’s comments about Tendulkar cannot be easily brushed aside as northern chauvinism.

It would be interesting to see in how many of the centurion innings by Tendulkar, Sehwag, Richards and Lara, did any of their teammates cross 75?  If few, that would imply that these greats  were performing at a much higher level than their contemporaries during those epochal stays.

Rather than trying to deduce the answer myself, I’ve simply decided to Ask Steven.

If you know the answer, you can comment below.

Thanks to Arnold D’souza, who answered my query on Facebook, I have the answers:

BC Lara (WI) – (17/34) — 50%
SM Gavaskar (India) – (15/34) — 44.12%
SR Tendulkar (India) – (14/51) — 27.45%
V Sehwag (India) – (8/23) — 34.78%

IVA Richards (WI) – (12/24) — 50%
DG Bradman (Aus) – (6/29) — 20.69%

By the above yardstick, the two West Indians are head-and-shoulders above the rest. Lara’s performance does not surprise so much; he was part of a much weakened West Indian side in decline. It’s Richards’ figures that are outstanding. He towers above batsmen of the caliber of Gordon Greenidge, Desmond Haynes, Alvin Kalicharran, Clive Lloyd and Richie Richardson.

Sehwag edges ahead of Tendulkar on the basis of this criteria. Of course, this does not factor in the Little Master’s longevity.

But it’s Gavaskar, the most technically accomplished batsman of his era, who is India’s batter to turn to when you wish someone would bat for your life.

The list would be more complete if I added Rahul Dravid, Allan Border and Steve Waugh to the mix.

Tweeted reactions to Kapil’s comments:

Kapil Dev has since clarified his statements about Sachin terming him an “underachiever”.

He said:

“Gavaskar used to say that I should have scored 5000 runs more than what I did. In hindsight, I agree I should have taken my batting seriously. But importantly, I didn’t take Gavaskar’s remark in the wrong sense. He challenged me and I accepted it.

Needless is the word. Sachin, I’ve always said, was a fabulous cricketer and more talented than Viv (Richards). He had the calibre to be as ruthless, or more, but did not deliver as much as I had expected. He got 100 international 100s but his potential was greater.

How else could I have described him? He was an underachiever and that I maintain was a compliment. He could have done better. Am I wrong?” 

He added:

“Sachin was clearly ahead of his time but he did not grow as I wanted him to grow. I loved the Sachin of Sharjah 1998 when he clubbed the Australians. His dominance was complete and stroke-play so imperious. He made good bowlers look ordinary, could hit boundaries at will but that Sachin was lost somewhere as his career progressed.

He was worth much more and that is what I meant.”

Does he not call me Paaji? Can an elder brother not say what he feels about his younger brother? I did precisely that.”

On Mumbai cricket:

“I respect Mumbai cricket and cricketers. They laid the base for the growth of Indian cricket but the game has changed and it is time we all realised and accepted it.

We also need to rise above petty regionalism. Mumbai is mine too. We would like to see Mumbai cricket and cricketers to move on. It is not about Mumbai, Haryana or Delhi.. It is about Indian cricket… Also, (Ajit) Wadekar Sir should please understand that I am a true Indian and Mumbai is part of us. I am a Bombaywalah too.”

Kapil Dev: What he said, really meant and definitely didn’t

Kapil Dev eggs on the Indian cricket team to greater heights.

What he said:

“Well I have never understood this team hug inside the ground at start of the match. What were you guys doing in dressing room. Only eating eggs!”

Former India player and World Cup winning skipper Kapil Dev is realistic about Team India’s chances at the World Cup Down Under this year.

The all-time great was addressing a ‘Cricket Conclave‘ organized by News24.

He said:

“If Virat Kohli scores a century and then blows a flying kiss towards his girlfriend, I have no problems. Rather I have problem if a player scores zero and is blowing a flying kiss. We played cricket in a different era and now its a different era. We have to accept that.We can’t just sit back and think that cricket is no longer a gentleman’s game. Times have changed. The generation I played was different. We grew up with Test cricket. But now you have sledging, abuses and T20 is an accepted format.”

English: virat kohli

English: virat kohli (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Kapil added:

“India I believe will reach semifinals and all four semi finalists will have 25 percent chance. You can’t predict from there on. I believe start is very important. I think the first 15 overs will decide how India will perform. I would take 40/0 in first 15 overs which can give us 270 plus total. It’s a must. But if India lose 2-3 wickets in 15 overs it will be difficult.”

What he really meant:

“The huddle is a muddle. Strategy is planned in the dressing room. The huddle’s merely an excuse for a no show!”

What he definitely didn’t:

“Sunday ho ya Monday, roj khana unday!”

Kapil Dev Nikhanj: What he said, really meant and definitely didn’t

Kapil Dev Nikhanj

What he said:

“I used to hate England because they ruled my country but I am happy they gave us the game of cricket, which they can’t play very well, and the English language, which I can’t speak very well.”

Kapil Dev Nikhanj cannot resist taking a dig at the English in his acceptance speech. The former Indian skipper was honored with a lifetime achievement award by the Indo-European Business Forum (IEBF) at a ceremony in the House of Lords in London.

The presentation was for his contribution to cricket and  his work in upliftment of poor and destitute communities through the Khushii society.

What he really meant:

“I’m happy we’re free of the British and that we now Lord it over them at the ICC even though we still can’t speak the Queen’s English equally well. I, of course, suffer from short-term memory loss and have forgotten that Team India surrendered the last three Test series.”

What he definitely didn’t but could have:

“It’s time the English relinquished sovereignty over the language as well. There are more English speakers in India than in the whole of UK.” 

The Big Test: Post-mortem analysis

The carcass that is Indian cricket is laid out on the coroner’s slab. The post-mortem begins afresh.

It all seems to be an exercise in futility.

Every serious Indian cricket lover, ex-cricketer, administrator or even current cricketer knows what ails Indian cricket. But not one wants to make a concrete effort to alter the status quo.

The ‘chalta hai’ attitude comes to the fore.

All this will change when we play in India on our dust-bowls” is the constant refrain.

And that is how it has panned out. The die-hard fans are consoled by wins eked out at home in conditions that suit flat-track bullies.

And the sponsors are happy all over again and our cricketers are worshiped as demigods once more.

What is wrong with Indian cricket?

Why are our players “Lions at home, lambs abroad”?

It is a combination of several factors.

There exists a paucity of quality fast bowlers to take advantage of conditions abroad because Indian pitches do not encourage them. They prefer to be medium fast rather than bowl their hearts out with little reward.

Diagram showing the correct grip for bowling a...

Diagram showing the correct grip for bowling a fast ball in cricket. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Except for Mohali, there are very few pitches that offer the fast bowler any help. It is time that the BCCI drew up a plan to create sporting pitches that will dot all the Test venues in India. It should be a mandate dictated from the top.

Imran Khan wished his team to win abroad and at home in all conditions. He institutionalized a culture of encouraging raw pace as well as facilitated  pacy wickets on the north-west Indian sub-continent.

There are no excuse for saying that it cannot be done. Look due north to our ‘Pathan’  neighbours for inspiration.

Fast, bouncy wickets at home would also make sure that our batters adapt quickly to English, Australian or South African ones.

Secondly, the Indian team selection especially for overseas tours has to be such that core players are constantly challenged by the fringe ones. No one should be allowed to rest on their laurels. A place in the side has to be constantly earned. There should be no passengers in the chosen 16.

Fast bowlers should be groomed and rotated so that they do not succumb to injuries.

Additionally, certain batsmen and bowlers with special or limited skills should be set aside for a specific format. You would expect a Ravindra Jadeja or a Stuart Binny to be a useful asset in one-dayers or T-20s. But expecting them to play stellar roles in Tests is wishful thinking. Similarly, Murali Vijay, Cheteshwar Pujara and Ishant Sharma are well-suited for Test cricket only.

A system that rewards format specialists is the need of the hour. The BCCI could look into that.

Yes, the Indian team would do better if they had all-rounders in the side. But the unfortunate truth is there is none of the calibre of a Kapil Dev or even a Manoj Prabhakar. The cupboard is bare.

The Indian Test team is thus better off with six front-line batsmen and five strike bowlers.

The series in Australia will show if the lessons learned from the unmitigated disaster in England have been absorbed.

If not, the Indian cricket fan can expect his cup of woe to overflow. Certainly not a good augury for the World Cup to follow!

India versus England: Ishant bounces out the Pommies

Australian cricketer Mitchell Johnson fielding...

Australian cricketer Mitchell Johnson fielding during a tour match against Northamptonshire during the 2009 Ashes. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Ishant Sharma at Adelaide Oval

Ishant Sharma at Adelaide Oval (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Ishant Sharma came to the party and how! Since he made his debut in 2008, the lanky pacer has disappointed more often than not. So much so that Indian fans came to believe that his name was not Ishant but “I shan’t”.

But on a Monday afternoon, the Delhi native bent his back with the old ball and destroyed the much-vaunted lower half of an English side in rebuild mode. Joe Root and Moeen Ali may have hoped to lead England to a much needed morale-boosting victory, especially for beleaguered skipper Alistair Cook.

But it was not to be. Once Ishant Sharma started bouncing them, it was all over bar the shouting.

Were the English recalling the pummelling they received at the hands of a venomous Mitchell Johnson in the recent Ashes series down under? Or did they feel they could pull off a Ravindra Jadeja as well? Whatever the reasons, the spectators were bemused to find a procession of English batters making their way back to the pavilion. The English plan to counter-attack merely provided catching practice for the Indian fielders.

The spectacle prompted Bob Willis to remark:

I have seen fewer hookers in Soho on a Saturday night.

India had its first win at Lords in 28 years.

The similarities between MS Dhoni and Kapil Dev keep piling up eerily.

India go into the next three Tests leading 1-0. They will hope that they can emulate Kapil’s Devils of 1986 and clinch a memorable series win. This Indian side does not look very strong on paper, lacking experience at the highest level. But most members of the squad have put their hands up and performed when needed, unlike the side of 2011.

A captain is only as good as his team and , right now, Dhoni’s boys are making him look so much better than the recent past.

Kapil Dev: What he said, really meant and definitely didn’t

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Kapil Dev: What he said, really meant and definitely didn’t

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Kapil Dev: What he said, really meant and definitely did not

Kapil Dev Bridges The Generation Gap

What he said:

"You can never compare a son with his father. The fathers never had the modern day gadgets that their sons are used to nowadays. Yet they worked tirelessly to get everything for their kids. That’s why it is unfair to compare two generations. But you always want your son to be better than you."

Kapil Dev cavils at comparing his generation of cricketers to the current one.

The former Indian captain was in Durban for the second edition of the World Cricket Legends.

Kapil called Dhoni’s boys “the best Indian team ever”.

Kapil said:

"When you have so many records, so much experience and have done so well, you can’t complain about anything at all."

The former all-rounder said that the next generation “will be better than the previous one”.

“If it is not then we aren’t moving forward as a society. If you at all have to compare, I would say this team is far better,” added Kapil.

What he really meant:

“The child is father of the man.”

What he definitely didn’t:

“Gadgets R Us.”

Kapil Dev: What He Said, Really Meant and Definitely Did Not

Kapil Dev Is In A Funk

What he said:

“Spin bowling is an art and so is fast bowling. All artists are crazy and similarly whoever wrote the book for Shoaib is also crazy between his ears.”

Former Indian skipper, Kapil Dev, is “artistic” in his denouncement of Shoaib Akhtar’s remarks concerning Sachin Tendulkar in his autobiography, “Controversially Yours.”

The all-rounder was delivering the 3rd Dilip Sardesai Memorial Lecture at the Cricket Club of India in Mumbai on September 29, 2011.

What he really meant:

“The co-author (Anshu Dogra) of Shoaib’s biography is simply nuts—by association.”

What he definitely didn’t:

“What a load of spin on a fast bowler’s life story.”

Kapil Dev: What he said, really meant and definitely did not


Kapil Dev Has No Time For Records—Sachin’s

What he said:

“We have to change our mindset. If we lose the match, what’s the use of statistics? To hell with that!”

Former Indian captain, Kapil Dev Nikhanj, is crystal clear that the Indian cricket team must come before individual achievements. The 1983 World Cup winning skipper was delivering the Dilip Sardesai lecture at the Cricket Club of India (CCI).

He said:



You seem more keen about Sachin’s 99 hundreds and not about how we are going to win the next series.

I am not saying don’t give credit to individual performances, but the country should come first.


Everyone knows Sachin has 99 centuries, but how many know which of those have ended in victories? Out of Sachin’s 99 hundreds, 60 have ended in wins. If anyone reports that I’ll be happy.

What he really meant:

“Surely, you folks don’t remember my 434 wickets and the inexorably slow overhaul of Sir Richard Hadlee‘s record. Now, that’s a statistic!”

What he definitely didn’t:

“Sorry, Sreenath, for keeping you out of the Indian side while I was pursuing my world record. Tendulkar’s merely emulating me—on a larger scale.”

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