Now and then | Delhi

I had decided I will not depend on the BCCI for financial support after my retirement: Kapil Dev

Kapil Dev at his office in New Delhi

Kapil Dev at his office in New Delhi   | Photo Credit: V.V. Krishnan

Kapil Dev on his floodlights business, golf and why cricket is still his first love

You’d imagine Kapil Dev relaxing on a swing on a lawn, sipping a drink or two, listening to music, watching the world around earn its livelihood. “But I also have to run a house,” he smiles. So while cricket is an integral part of his life – “It is my first love” – he reminds us, he earns a living through public appearances, product endorsements, and giving motivational lectures. Just last week, he led an approximately ₹1 crore angel-funding round for WizCounsel, a finance-legal-tech startup.

Kapil Dev
  • Age: 60
  • In cricket: middle-order batsman and fast bowler
  • Career span: 1978 to 1994
  • Played: 131 Tests, 225 ODIs
  • Honours: Once world record holder of highest Test wickets (434)
  • Known for: His ability to take wickets on unresponsive pitches
  • For the record: Was never run out in 184 Test innings

He continues to write columns and undertake commentary assignments, while also running a business, Dev Musco Lighting Pvt Ltd, involved in installing floodlights at sporting venues, with technical support from a U.S. company.

During his playing days, he saw a former India captain waiting to collect his allowances outside the BCCI secretary’s room.

“The secretary was sleeping and could not be disturbed. I was disturbed and decided that day that I will not depend on the BCCI for financial support after my retirement.”

True to his word, the pension he receives from the BCCI is set aside for a charity home (Khushi). “I have not taken a penny from the pension; not a penny,” he says, proudly.

‘Grand life’

“Cricket gave me a grand life and I got used to it. There was a certain standard of living I had developed and did not want to miss it when I stopped playing. I wanted to give the best to my near and dear ones,” said Kapil. He invested well, set up his business in floodlights, which today provides employment to a staff of 40. “They are family,” he adds.

Kapil is assisted at work by wife Romi, who says he’s as down to earth today as he was almost 40 years ago, when she met him. “He is a lovable father (to Amiya), a wonderful husband, and a reliable friend. He loves his cricket, his family, and his golf. If he has a crowded schedule for the day, his golf with friends will happen at 5 in the morning,” she says.

Kapil Dev flanked by his wife Romi and daughter Amiya.

Kapil Dev flanked by his wife Romi and daughter Amiya.  

The Delhi Golf Club is walking distance from home. “I would love to walk to Ferozeshah Kotla,” he says. Bengali Market and Khan Market are places he can be spotted at, even though the fans throng. “I could not visit theatres for movies, but I gave my family a lot of time and vacations when off cricket,” Kapil adds.

For him, Delhi has become home, never mind the insane traffic and the growing incidence of road rage.

His Mercedes GLE 350 makes way past screaming vehicles even as he instructs the chauffeur not to change lanes or honk. Nothing puts him off more than people showing utter disregard for each other. “There is space for everyone. Why have we become so impatient? I sometimes wonder if this race to out-pace the other is worth the effort.”

Match-winner

For a generation which was fortunate to watch live coverage of cricket matches, Kapil was a match-winner, an all-rounder who strove to be in the thick of action, an icon who complemented the batting exploits of Sunil Gavaskar.

“Sunny was big, and GRV (G.R. Viswanath) was my hero. Learnt so much from them.” What about his contribution? “I was there to do my job and I was lucky to have some fantastic colleagues. It was a privilege to play and travel with them because, for a Chandigarh boy, it was an intimidating world outside my town.”

Kapil Dev with the trophy after winning the 1983 Prudential World Cup final against the West Indies at Lord’s.

Kapil Dev with the trophy after winning the 1983 Prudential World Cup final against the West Indies at Lord’s.  

Why did the Chandigarh boy then settle in Delhi? “There is a story. I had begun to travel a lot because of my cricket and it soon became an arduous exercise. There was just one flight out of Chandigarh to Delhi and I would often end up going through the ordeal of reaching the Capital by road. It was tiring. Sometime in 1984 I took the decision to make Delhi my home.”

It was not easy though. The property in Central Delhi had been rented to a government organisation and Kapil was unable to get the place vacated.

“I shall remain indebted to (late) N.K.P. Salve. He was a Union Minister and took personal interest to help me get the house back. Of course, I was not really happy to leave Chandigarh and managed to convince my family. Over the years, it has become so convenient to reach my lovely home town by train, air, road. Delhi is my proud home now,” he says, while adding that he’s not a Dilliwalla.

“I tell people that I, as a proud Indian, love every city and every little town. I am as much a Mumbaikar as Sunny. He is as much a Dilliwalla as I am. Why categorise? I tell people I am a Punjabi who played for Haryana and represented India. I don’t really belong to one city or State or region. But yes, I am proud to be a part of Delhi and its culture.”

If only Delhi could be greener and calmer is his only lament.

“I want to take one ride on the Metro. I want the traffic to be disciplined, less honking. And I want the VIP system to be abolished. Stopping everyone for one VIP to pass! I know it is not just restricted to Delhi, which, to me, is the most liveable city of the country.”

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Printable version | Feb 23, 2020 11:45:19 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Delhi/kapil-dev-says-i-also-have-to-run-a-house/article28237267.ece

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