Former Indian allrounder, and leading test wicket taker of all time, Kapil Dev, took time off from covering the Hong Kong Sixes, to face questions from people on #cricket on IRC.
salil: When you came on the scene many years ago, people thought you would spawn off a fast bowling revolution. What happened since?
Kapil: I think I realised very early, it is more than fast bowling, you have to be a seam bowler as well. To play a longer period you have to have your energy all the time, so I start swinging the ball more than I start trying to bowl quick. It worked very well at the end of the day.
nidus: Who do you regard now as the best fast bowler in India NOT in the present line up?
Kapil: I think it is difficult, I haven't seen them all recently so I cannot say who is the best. Fast bowling is such a thing that it is tough to say who will come out - they will just come out of the blue sometimes.
ddyte: As a Zimbabwe fan, I must say it breaks my heart to think of your wonderful 175 in the 1983 world cup. Is that your greatest innings?
Kapil: I wouldn't say the greatest innings, but a very important innings. The situation at 15-5 was bad. I think it was very well timed.
vishal: Did you suspect any kind of reverse swing thing in the 82-83 series in Pakistan?
Kapil: No, I think we were just suspicious that something is going on. Ball tampering used to happen then but we didn't know about it.
Cheeka: What do you make of the (terrible) way in which Ankola has been shunned time and time again by the selectors, and do you or don't you think he is capable of playing for India in a test match (as say the second seamer) ?
Kapil: I think, well, he should be in the team most of the time. When you have too many changes it doesn't give confidence to players of the team. He should either be kept, if they think he is good, and keep trying, or if they think he is not good they should drop him permanently.
USSB: Waqar said that Srinath doesn't work hard enough ... And we know that Srinath is a good bowler but is not really among the wickets? How can he improve in your opinion? (other than becoming a non-vegetarian over-night) :-)
Kapil: To improve, you have to work hard. Go back to the nets and start planning what he is supposed to do. Any way, if you want to improve you have to go back and put a single wicket, off stump, and keep bowling to line and length. More than that he needs to be more on the fighting side, show aggression, and use his head properly.
CommonMan: Kapil: Given 5 years and resources, what would you do to develop about 10 good fast and fast medium bowlers?
Rohan: I think first, most important, is to have a good wicket where the young boys get interest to bowl fast. When the wickets start to respond that is the most important thing. The key to everything is good facilities to the player.
UMass: A 'kapil fan' is convinced that that punishment you had for 'irresponsible batting' had some other motives - to break your run of consecutive tests. Isn't it a severe punishment? Did you deserve it?
Kapil: When you stop playing cricket it is a different ball game. When you are playing it is a different way of thinking. Whatever happened, I am a satisfied man. There are so many disappointments. When you are on the field you should always be greedy, playing hard to do the best and perform more and more. When you are outside you should be satisifed.
Imran: Are you saying that you suspected ball-tampering in '82-83 against Pakistan, or that Imran Khan was showing a new way to swing the old ball? Wouldn't you agree that just because the ball is being reverse-swung doesn't automatically mean that any ball-tampering has occured. How would you describe the treatment meted out to Wasim & Waqar by the English press?
Kapil: I think we started imagining in 82-83 that the Pakistani players were doing something to the ball. They were given a new word, today it is reverse swing. Tampering with the ball is wrong. Re the English press: I dont know really - I haven't followed through in gory detail of what happened, can't give any comment. They are the two finest bowlers today.
nidus: Do you see the Srinath/Prasad combination getting any better than they are now... any suggestions about how Prasad could improve or just give your general opinion on Prasad?
Kapil: Prasad is a very fine bowler - he has to learn to plan according to the batsmen. Both are very fine bowlers, have to work on their good points, and not try to do that which they don't have.
salil: kapil: In 1983, after the Guwahati ODI against WI, you identified Chetan Sharma and Raju Kulkarni as potential future fast bowling stars. Chetan seemed to burn out even before you and Kulkarni never seemed to take off. What do you think went wrong?
Kapil: They start imagining they are too big for their boots - did not work hard on the ground, they never wanted to be better bowlers. They have the talent.
Cheeka: If it isn't too controversial a question to ask (and I sincerely hope not), what are your views on Navjot Sidhu's current exclusion, and do you think he deserves to be back as soon as he hopefully will be, or should a longer ban have been imposed ?
Kapil: I feel he is the one who said he wanted to retire, he is the one who said sorry. It is up to the board to decide at that stage. If he has done something wrong he should be punished.
vishal: Who is the best batsmen (in your opinion) you have bowled to or seen to date?
Kapil: I think it is difficult to answer: in my time, Viv Richards, Allan Border, David Gower, Sunil Gavaskar were up there. It depends who is on the form sometimes.
UMass: Do coaches win matches (Woolmer and Whatmore)? Would you take a coaching tenure, say for Bangladesh/Northants/India?
Kapil: Coaches can do motiviation, match is won by the team. I haven't decided to go in the coaching side so I can't say anything on that yet.
CommonMan: Almost every past cricketer suggests we have speedy wickets for local games in India - then why don't we have any?
Kapil: The question should be asked to adminstrators rather than me. They should work on that. We can have it - we have to use our head and put the right people in the right place.
USSB: What's this thing we hear about your abduction? Is it true? Can you throw further light on this?
Kapil: I was abroad in Toronto when I heard about it. Apparently the story is some people wanted to kidnap me. I don't really believe that but the story goes like that. I thought somebody would want to kidnap me only to play cricket or golf with me! What they will get out of me, I don't know.
salil: How much longer before Tendulkar reached the stature of a Gavaskar in world cricket? or is he there already?
Kapil: Gavaskar made his name in over 20 years, it is difficult to say so soon. Sachin can reach there, he has to work very hard and he is very talented, Sunil has made a mark others have to reach.
UMass: From memory... after the tied test at madras australians complained that you were really out and you didn't want to walk. What do you have to say about that in particular and walking in general? Isn't it true that Umpires make mistakes and batsmen may stay when umpires declare not out?
Kapil: I don't remember being out or any complaint about me!!! I don't know any story like that. Maybe you know better than me??
ddyte: With your immense popularity throughout India, would you ever consider the possibilty of trying to be elected Prime Minister, as other stars like Pele or Imran have thought about?
Kapil: I am happy with what I am doing now; at the moment I haven't thought about the politics. I am happy that people respect me and love me, and I love them.
Cheeka: Jayasuriya seems to have almost re-invented the art of one day batting, with his agricultural and yet effective hitting at the top. Now if you were a current one day bowler, where and how would you bowl to him?
Kapil: Just try to bowl straight, if he is good he will clear it - don't try too many things is the key.
sailesh: People always wonder how Pakistan has so many fast bowlers and India has so few. On rec.sport.cricket (an internet discussion group) somebody suggested that Imran, Wasim etc. established the tradition of heavily coaching youngsters, unlike in India. How do you respond to that?
Kapil: I don't know really if they have any system in Pakistan - again this system has to come via the Board, not the players. They are in charge of that.
metta: Do you think change of captaincy has done good? Tendulkar seems out of sorts already.
Kapil: It is not good to change the captain too often which Indian board always does, which is wrong. In the last 15 years we had more captains than any other team. I think now they have given to Sachin it doesn't bother him - he is such a good player. One or two matches is hardly any matter - he will come out good. Couple of matches with no runs doesn't mean the pressure is taking up - its just one of those things.
Cheeka: What are your thoughts on the Indian team's performance in Canada (the Sahara cup) so far? And what changes (if any) would you make to the side for the final one day?
Kapil: I think they have played four, won 2 lost 2, so I dont want to make changes, I don't believe in too many changes anyway. Carry on the way they are - just need more confidence. Lot of young boys in the side.
sailesh: Some people have suggested that the WC win in 1983 ensured that we have concentrated too much on ODIs at the expense of Test cricket. Do you agree with that?
Kapil: I think winning the world cup was a tremendous thing, When you win one day cricket all the boys are going to learn that cricket. It is better to put more time on that side! Winning was a good thing! I think now there is no way they are behind any more in Test cricket - they are a very important team now. In the beginning they were just winning at home: it's more important to win abroad - that's where the team gets more confidence.
Jonty: Who do you think is most likely (if at all) to break your record of 434 wkts in Tests? or 500?
Kapil: Anybody has to play 12-15 years to break that record. They have to keep themselves very fit. Shane Warne showing tremendous interest in that line: he is the one, maybe.
UMass: Murali is the most photo/vidoegraphed bowler in the world... if you were to Umpire would you 'no-ball' him? If the Umpire can't see it (with the naked eye) it is fair, I think. Why then video and slow motion?
Kapil: I am not the Umpire so I cannot really answer that :-)
vishal: Do you think there are better offspinners in India than Kapoor?
Kapil: At the moment he is the best, he is in the team. I haven't seen local cricket for last year and a half so I can't answer that.
JeyDev: What happened to your soccer career?
Kapil: I was just playing for fun, playing sports for fun, I
made a career in one sport and I was happy about that.
Date-stamped : 07 Oct1998 - 04:33