Sports Gazette

by sports journalism students at St Mary's University, London

Kapil Dev: IPL 2020 and Advice for Young Cricketers

Posted on 4 November 2020 by Viraj Bhatia
Image Credit: Kapil Dev
Image Credit: Kapil Dev

They say your health is your wealth, and never has that phrase taken on more personal significance than over the past few days. Last week, Kapil Dev was in high spirits as he discussed the new IPL season which kicked off in the UAE last month. 

Soon after, news broke that the 60-year-old had been rushed to hospital. Thankfully, Kapil has now been discharged from Fortis hospital in Delhi and is set to make a full recovery. 

Kapil Dev recovering in hospital
Image Credit: Kapil Dev

A former World Cup winning captain, Kapil is one of the greatest to have ever played the sport. Known for his powerful batting style and reliable bowling, he is credited with having inspired a generation of Indians to take up cricket. His all-round ability, as well as his fitness and leadership, would have made him a valuable asset in any Indian Premier League (IPL) team today. 

The IPL is well underway, being held in the UAE due to the coronavirus pandemic. It has come as a massive escape to cricket fans all over the globe, with a 15% growth in viewership in the opening week compared to last season, according to the BARC-Nielsen report. Kapil is among those closely following the IPL this season and he has been impressed by some young Indian cricketers.

“There are 3 or 4 youngsters coming out, and you say, wow that’s very good the way they’re playing. I don’t consider KL Rahul a youngster, but I still think he is the next big cricketer on the horizon and you look at Sanju Samson and want to see how good he can be. 

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“Another one is Mayank Agarwal, how well is he playing! The young fast bowlers that are coming up too. I also look to see who will take the wicket-keeper’s spot now that MS Dhoni has retired.”

Something that has been talked about a lot this IPL is the extremely inconsistent fielding standards. We have seen some of the best and worst fielding displays in the past month, and Kapil believes that this is due to lack of practice and fitness.

“In the beginning, these cricketers who are in their prime didn’t get time to prepare and looked a bit out of shape, but now halfway through the tournament, the boys look much better though some cricketers have put on a lot of weight.

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“We have seen great catches and great fielding, but some drops too. They look like they’re not in practice. The best of the best fielders, Jadeja dropping catches, Kohli and Rahul dropping catches and you think, ‘Hello! What’s happening man?!’ So there is good and bad this year.”

This IPL season has also marked the return of Kamlesh Nagarkoti and Hardik Pandya from long-term injuries. We have seen some memorable performances from them so far this tournament, but there is always that lingering fear of yet another breakdown. Kapil thinks it is high time these players understand their strengths and train accordingly.

“The youngsters need to understand their own body. They can’t look at others and say ‘he’s doing this or he’s doing that.’ You see your own body, the strength you have and then start working on it. They have read too many books or stories and they just want to follow. Every youngster needs to write their own story and say this is my strength and I have to work on that.”

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“Depend On Yourself”

One thing that is always discussed in regard to the IPL is the big money contracts. Despite this, we have seen time and again ex-athletes declaring themselves bankrupt due to poor money management.

While Kapil doesn’t begrudge the likes of Steven Smith, Virat Kohli and Ben Stokes a dollar of what they’re earning, he also warns that players, even the highest-paid, must plan ahead when it comes to retirement and their post-playing finances.

“A senior cricketer once said to me, ‘If you want to be successful, keep your eyes and ears open while sleeping also.’ You have to learn yourself, some people will come out and give you advice for a day or two but eventually you have to work hard to maintain that. You don’t have to depend on anyone, depend on yourself.

“I wouldn’t like to see Ferraris or Rolex watches, I think it’s important to have your house first and that’s very important. Every individual is different but I think I would like to tell youngsters to not show off their money. Just keep it safe and invest at the right time, so that you can have a similar lifestyle throughout your life.

“Today, you’re getting the amount you’re getting, but maybe once you stop playing, you’re not going to get that. Can you have the same lifestyle then as you have today? If so, you’ll be a successful person.”

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Of course, due to these big IPL contracts, a lot of young cricketers are now growing up with the goal of earning a big pay day in the IPL. Kapil believes that this is a very individual choice.

“If they can count playing in the IPL as bigger than playing for the country, then I can’t say anything. Every individual has their own responsibility. I would say, for me, playing for the country is the biggest thing. If they think IPL is bigger than playing for the country, I say good luck to them!”

83 The Movie

Kapil has well and truly given his all for his country, winning the World Cup in 1983 when nobody gave his team a chance. The victory made him immortal in the eyes of millions of Indians. There is a feature film on his victorious team, 83, releasing in cinemas this December, and every cricket fan is looking forward to seeing what went on behind the scenes of one of the key moments in Indian cricketing history.

Coming Soon: In Part 2 of our conversation with Kapil, we’ll find out more about the film from the man himself.