Indian cricket icon Kapil Dev recently got candid with actor Neha Dhupia as the former cricketer shared interesting incidents from his life, his cricket days and how cricket has changed over the years.
‘No Filter Neha’ is a Saavn original podcast hosted by Neha Dhupia, which features various celebrities. The podcast is in its 5th season now and is called the Home Edition, as it is being held at home due to the COVID-19 outbreak.
Speaking on on old cricket days and fitness, Kapil said, “Every individual cricketer has to look after himself. Yes, yes and no, I mean we were strict, certain people come out they were very conscious about themselves and sometimes certain people used to just play to have fun, to travel. So, things keep on changing time to time. When we enter, our age group enters, I think we were more disciplined in a sense ki we have to play much longer because this is your passion. If you keep yourself fit, you can play longer.
“And some of the cricketers were there looking for the evening, what is going to happen in the evening, and including me, I was to look for the evening also but again, you used to get scared, darr jatey the ke kuch ho na jaaye. Every individual is different, today lot of people, new generations spend time in the gym, we didn’t have those facilities, we didn’t have mechanical things what these sports people today have. We didn’t have those types of clothes also, neither the shoes, but human bodies are such, they adjust themselves. I would say, today’s cricketers are amazing, they know everything and they apply, but still you find a few cricketers come out they have a talent but their mind is not there,” he said.
Kapil feels that parents these days are more supportive than earlier when it comes to sports. “In our time, making a life out of cricket wasn’t there. Now it’s okay, parents bring their kids to the ground, hamare time mein toh thappad padte the, chalo zyada khelne ja raha hai, 24 gante khelta rehta hai. So, I think things have changed, when you made yourself through sports then parents recognize yes ability hai, talent hai, he can make a life out of that. But in the beginning, I won’t say my mother knew cricket, my father didn’t know what is cricket. 24 gante lakdi ke sath khelta rehta hai, so what one can say about that.
Sharing fond memories with then-captain Bishan Singh Bedi, Kapil said, “Oh, when I played my first series in Pakistan, he was a captain and he was a Punjabi. So two things were very important. He couldn’t understand my language. I couldn’t understand his language because he was half English man. His accent, he talked such a great finesse. Bishan paaji, I remember, first shouting I got, lot of love and affection we got. I mean, enormous. I can’t even express how much love and affection he’s given us as youngsters.
“But, in Lahore test, he sent me a night watchman. Woh jo last ke 5 over hote hai na khelne ke liye, cricketing terms. He said to me, ‘Okay, let Kapil go as main batsman out.’ I was number 9, 10 batting. So main jaake khela and in two overs, I made 22- not out and overnight I was very happy ke I made so many runs, nobody expected. I comeback to the dressing room, he got a hold of me, ‘He said, oye, pehelwan, terko night watchman ka matlab pata hai?’ And, I said pata nahi meri tareef kar rahe hai ya data laga rahe hai, I said haanji paaji, yes paaji. Aaawaz hi nahi nikalti thi. Maine kahan paaji but woh mere idhar ball diye jaa rahe the toh main mare jaa raha tha, merko aata hi nahi rokna. Toh he said night watchman meaning samjho pehle.”
Throwing light on his last few days as a cricketer, Kapil said, “If you are not a satisfied cricketer, then it becomes very hard. When I achieved what I was planning and after that the day I left cricket I didn’t go back to the ground. I said, no. My time has come, I enjoyed and it wasn’t hard. Had I not achieved what I was planning, it would have been very disappointing and then you can go back and say your dream is not fulfilled. My dream is to play for the country. Once you stop playing cricket you become a very nagging person. I said I don’t want to go back to cricket. I don’t want to pick up the mistakes of these young cricketers. They have to learn themselves. So I prepared myself much before I retired ki the day I stop, I will walk out and not come back.” he said.
Picking his favorite cricket squad, Kapil said, “Everyone, I mean I will go backward. There is a generation before me also who have played cricket. So, every generation, youngsters come out with something brilliant and I think Sourav Ganguly came out with a lot of self-belief and he motivated everybody in that group and then its Dhoni, totally opposite, calm, quiet and then Virat with so much aggression. Everybody has to reach on top. One thing understanding in cricketing term, reach on top, whichever method you want to take, it’s entirely upto you. You want to take a lift or you want to go by staircase, it’s entirely upto you. But, every generation comes out, they offer somethings.
I wouldn’t say that one way is the only way. I think the change taking place is for the betterment of Indian cricket and I would say a lot of credit, I would give to the cricket board also. The way they run the game. We wouldn’t have had Virat or Sachin or all these people. Today, the players coming in a group in our time, players used to come individual ability, talent, par excellence but not as a team. Now we can see a team is coming up and cricket has gone into the smaller cities of our country and that is the strength.”
Kapil talks about Tunbridge Wells iconic innings and if it’ll be there in the film ’83’. “That’s the only thing I’m looking for. Because, I think, lot of stories comes out when you are in an act of that. You don’t know what’s happening and how they’ve come out with the movie or that episode of Zimbabwe inning, I don’t know. But, that’s what I want to see. Other things, we have seen on television so we know pretty well what’s happening.”
Talking about his experience of hitting that 175 at Tunbridge Wells, “It was a blank. Absolutely blank. Because, when you are in an act, you don’t think too much. And, when that thing happens, then you can say. Middle of the action if I say Sholay, Amitabh Bachchan and Dharamji don’t know kya ho raha hai, who toh baad mein pata chalta hai ki picture bann gayi hai aur bahut acha hua hai. Uss time jab aap kaam kar rahe hote hai uss time aap ko nahi pata hota hai. You are just playing and not thinking too much. And 99% you don’t think too much.”
Picking his favourite players for ‘Kapil 11’, he said, “There’s a test match is different, there’s a one day cricket is different. ODI…if I have to pick, I would say definitely Sachin Tendulkar, Virender Sehwag, Virat Kohli, will be there, Rahul Dravid will be there, Yuvraj will be there. Wicket Keeper is only Dhoni. Nobody can touch his spot. You have Zaheer Khan, you have Sreenath. Recently Bhumrah, I can say. He’s done extremely well. Anil Kumble, all-time great spinner and Harbhajan. These are the cricketers who come to my mind very much there.”