Friends of the late Dilip Sardesai, members of the Cricket Club of India (CCI) and guests that included a number of cricketers listened with interest Kapil Dev’s observations on a variety of matters related to the game and also his views on the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI).
In the course of his opening remarks he was perhaps most scathing when he said that “India has great individuals, but not a great team’’ and that the media was highlighting only Sachin Tendulkar’s 99 centuries during the recent series in England.
Given the option by Rajdeep Sardesai not to confine himself rigidly to a future of Indian cricket at the third Dilip Sardesai Memorial Lecture here at C.K. Nayudu Hall, the 1983 World Cup-winning captain said at the outset that he’s proud that the cricket world is viewing India as the richest in the world and that there’s was a time when with a daily allowance of $ 7, Indian players used to wash their clothes and look for free meals on overseas tours.
“I feel proud and in this respect the BCCI is doing wonderfully well. It’s giving monthly gratis to retired cricketers. I don’t want to take a dig at the BCCI on this count and the other sports federations should take a leaf out of the BCCI book.’’
There are a number of aspects he pointed out that the BCCI and the senior cricketers can put their collective heads to further Indian cricket. “I think school cricket is very important. Winning the World Cup is not the end of it. Today parents are saying that their sons should become a Dhoni, Tendulkar, Dravid or a Yuvraj Singh. I have never heard such things from parents in my time. It’s because of the interest taken by parents that their children become doctors and engineers. So is with cricket. It’s a fantastic change. In the next twenty years, 90 per cent of India’s cricketers will come from small towns and cities. The BCCI should spend twenty per cent of the money it earns on school cricket.’’
The candour of his speech impressed the audience when he pointed out the irony in the players being paid more money for club cricket (IPL) and less (for the country) by the BCCI. “I simply cannot accept this. Pay them more (when they play for the country) and see how many players drop out of tours (for a bilateral series).’’
Touching upon the fitness of the fast bowlers he said that the BCCI should realise that the body of the fast bowlers cannot take the load for 365 days. “India was a country known for batsmen and spinners, but in the last 15/20 years we have produced good seam and fast bowlers like Javagal Srinath and Zaheer Khan. We should be proud of that. On the flip side the fast bowlers spend more time in the gym these days. What they have to do is a lot of running to develop a strong pair of legs and stomach. I would not have allowed the captain of the Indian team (Dhoni) to bowl on the second day of the Test series in England. It was the worst day for me. I would have bowled 25 overs from one end.’’
He said there’s scope for three national selectors and ten people working under them to provide feedback on young cricketers in their region, that different captains for different forms of the game will not work in India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka because people have bigger egos than thought process and that change will happen over time.
Finally, Kapil said that if senior cricketers in Pakistan had taken the initiative and given proper direction, Pakistan cricket would not be making news for some wrong reasons.