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Interview with Kapil
« on: August 30, 2007, 02:29:21 AM »


Many years ago, at the tender age of fifteen, a young bowler took the mighty BCCI on, when at a training camp in Bombay's Brabourne Stadium, he was refused an extra  chappati  at dinner. In protest, the teen went on a hunger strike till they relented. The secretary at the time demanded to know who this impudent kid was. The proud answer: "I am a fast bowler." The officer disdainfully commented, "We haven't got any fast bowlers in India." That insult spurred the boy on to become one of the finest fast bowlers to have played the game. Many years later, as Chairman of the ICL, Kapil Dev is ready to take on the might of the BCCI all over again. And this will be a much tougher battle.
But a born fighter that he is, Paaji promises me from inside his office in Delhi's Greater Kailash, he will demand and get his extra chappati all over again.

After all that you have achieved, must hurt to be called a rebel.

People from the new generation should understand what that word means before using it. It's a negative word. We are doing no wrong, we are only providing jobs and opportunities to people.

Some young journalists who use such words aren't qualified to be called journalists. What can I say if their IQ level is only that much.

Why did you join the ICL?

Let's first understand that apart from the players and the coach, a job at the BCCI is an honorary one, so was mine. I did not even take a daily allowance. I have always believed we must do jobs we love doing, for which we get paid. The larger picture is that the ICL will benefit the nation. Also, all my life I have stood up against injustice. The BCCI behaves like a policeman, they should behave like parents. You can't be a dictator in the name of democracy. The sportsman is not allowed to come up. In the finance ministry, we have a person who understands finance. The law minister is a person who understands law. But the sports minister is a person who never played sports!

So politicians should lay off sports...

In our system, you can't do without politicians. Things don't happen unless somebody moves things. So there should be a politician, there's nothing wrong with that. The problem is not even one per cent of these people are sportsmen, and one hundred per cent of them are politicians.

And Pawar is the supreme boss.

Yes, I am unhappy about that. The people who know the game should serve cricket.

There's too much money in the game for netas to keep away.

I think they like power.

I think it's money. Else they'd be looking after the Kabaddi or the Kho Kho Board.

Or the blind and the handicapped.


Everyone loves money, but they like to be in control.

Aren't you scared of taking on a powerful politician like Sharad Pawar? He's a mighty, astute politician.

If I have to fight with God, I will fight Him. (Laughs) If you are right, then why worry? Daraa hua insaan kabhi zindagi mein fateh nahin pa sakta.

Now he's pitched Sunil Gavaskar against you. That's a masterstroke.

They always use cricketers against each other, that's been our (players) weakness. But I want to see what Sunil says to the offer. If he is doing the job, I am happy, because cricket will benefit.

Don't you think Mr Pawar should be spending his energies on dealing with farmers' issues? He is minister for agriculture in the Union Ministry

Well then Pawar can ask what is Sidhu doing in politics?

But Sidhu is a retired cricketer, and Pawar is a current Union Minister.

If he can handle a hundred things at one time, why should I stop him? Just as he has no right to ask me how I can do many things at one time. But the government has to look into this... if he can't handle his ministry, he will be chucked out.

How did you take the news of the sacking from the BCCI?

I want to see how far they are ready to go. If they can do it to me, other cricketers should understand that they are like cakes meant to be cut into many pieces. This is the way the BCCI works.

Are you in touch with Gavaskar?

No, only once in a while, we wish each other on birthdays. Do you meet all your school friends till date?

Did you and Sunil have too many clashes?

I respect him a lot. The problem was, we were different cricketers in the way we played the game. I didn't walk into the ground, thinking, 'let's draw not lose'. When Sunil played, he taught us how not to lose matches. But I wanted to win. So every time Sunil drew a Test match, it was a win for him. His approach, because he played in the era when the team wasn't big enough, was that. But my approach was totally different.

I think we are going back to that era again, what happened at the Oval match was defeatist.

Yes, it was. Even though Dravid is a great batsman, his approach is very soft. Sourav was a great captain, because he was ready to take challenges. Similarly, Sachin is a great player, but somewhere along the way, he wants to play like Sunil Gavaskar. Sachin does not possess the art of winning. Ravi Shastri had zero talent, but he got the maximum out of Test cricket. Because of his commitment to the game and the courage to fight.

The Oval incident was unacceptable.

Yes. I wonder who decided not to enforce the follow-on. I don't know what Dilip Vengsarkar was doing out there. As chairman of the selectors, your only motivation should be to win. He should have been stronger. (Raises his voice.) If you fear failure, you are a loser!

On Sachin Tendulkar
Sachin is a great player, but somewhere along the way, he wants to play like Sunny. He doesn't possess the art of winning    
You think these days Sachin is only playing to remain in the team, to pick up more milestones, and that means more money.
As a fan of Sachin, I would say, instead of getting another 3000 runs, get 2500, but your ap- proach should be different. If he plays the way he loves to play, a bit ruthlessly, people will love him. But he's giving me the impression he's become stubborn. I'd love to sit and chat with him alone.

Aren't you going to invite mega stars like Sachin and Sourav to join the ICL? Right now you only have retired players and bachchas .

We want the series to get over first. It is ethically wrong to talk to a cricketer while the series is on. But yes, we will approach everybody. We would like the top players to play with our young boys.

The BCCI has put a life ban on anyone who plays with you.

If they use words like that, they are asking for trouble. If a player scores a hundred in each innings playing for ICL, and they do not pick him to play for India, I want them to see what the country and the media will do to them. If they aren't going to be thinking India, they should drop the word 'India' from BCCI. They also need to drop the word 'Control'. If they stop the best players from playing, they are asking for trouble.

So you will go on hunger strike if they don't pick your performers.

Before I do that, they (the BCCI) will be finished. Let's not go back to the court.

What's boss Subhash Chandra's brief to you?

He said till fifteen years back, there were only five singers in this country. After Sa Re Ga Ma Pa on Zee, in fifteen years, we have fifty singers, from the smallest of towns. If we can do it in singing, then why not in cricket? Likewise, I'd like to see a hundred Sachins playing. Why do we have only four or five star players in cricket? Also, we want the players to be rich.

How important is money to you?

The time the cricketer will be strong financially, the Board will be weak. That's what they did for the last sixty years, they never let the players be strong. Today, we are not depending on them, we can question them. What I am doing is not for charity. If earning money is wrong, then the whole world is wrong, then let's all renounce the world and become sadhus. Mein kaam karna chahta hoon, aur aish karna chahta hoon .

Ready for a long, bitter fight?

Jab azaadi mili thi, kisi ne to qurbani di thi.

Are you in touch with Manoj Prabhakar? He accused you of match fixing.

Who's he?

Any message for Mr Pawar?

He should use his own mind. He is listening to the board members who surround him, and he's getting a bad name for himself.

Rude, Blunt, and Uncompromising. It's not personal.
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