He is a hero for a generation may be even two. India’s international sporting glory was before and around Independence, in Hockey. They played barefooted and won against international teams. Since Independence and for much of congress tenure there was no world beating performance in sports until this kid called Kapil Dev came around the block. He redefined cricket for India. India remembers with pride when opposing batsmen were forced to ask for helmets when this kid bowled. That was something which never happened before, and bought something in the minds of opposing teams, a thing called fear. When he laid a stronger foundation for that fear into opposing team minds, it also did a little thing for co-cricketers minds and psyche. It subtly moved them away from accepting defeat as a gentleman virtue, to a desire and action for success which began to get translated into match winning victories. It would be informative to know the person who gave him this title, “The Haryana Hurricane”.
Every Indian male and an equal number of women if given a chance can indulge in the athletic process of making the body’s muscles to bowl, bat, field, catch, and occasionally win matches. However history always needs a single person, a person who can inspire by word, action, humility and aggression when it matters. Those are traits which can rub off on another in ways unknown to the other. Something on those lines must have happened to Kapil Dev’s team when they against all odds beat the Mighty West Indians to win the world cup in 1983. West Indies never again rose to be a world beating cricketing power though it toured the world for a few years with the same team beating world teams with the vengeance of a mauled lioness.
But that world cup victory laid the foundation for many things. It gave a dream to many youngsters around India to go for the kill, it gave enormous respect for India in the cricketing world, it instilled in Indians a sense of tremendous pride satisfaction and most importantly pride. Equally important it laid the foundation for strong audience for the game which down the years has transformed the cricketing body of India BCCI as the richest cricketing body in the world.
Winning the world cup has triggered an avalanche of benefits direct and Indirect which has given careers to thousands of families in India and has given everlasting memories to whole generation of Indians and India as a whole. People with outstanding leadership skills like Kapil Dev cannot let themselves to be quiet and passive and let themselves go into vegetative state just because a thing called retirement comes into place. And what is retirement at 35. It’s just from the physical game. It was not the physical component of the game which has propelled him to success. It was the mind behind that physical component. That mind is a powerful power machine which took him to another important and path breaking venture called the Indian Cricket League. Backed by an Industrial group with an objective of offering an alternative to the official body in India BCCI it made headways and offered room for many a cricketer who was snubbed and left to wither by the sole cricket governing body in India. The reason it disturbed the sleep of the body of the Board of the Cricket control in India was it directly threatened the thing they all liked it with care and concern, “Money”. So it hit back by forming the IPL. That was an identical mirror body of what our cricketing great Kapil Dev has created in ICL.
The official cricketing body of India has moved to hit the legend in a way which only they can. They cut off his pension. How imaginative. A man who was instrumental in taking cricket to great heights in India and on whose primary exploits the fortunes of the cricketing sport in India has taken an upswing is being forced to buckle down on pension money. The mere task of hitting back at the legend by forming IPL has by itself fetched in 1000 crores as TV rights for the BCCI. By deciding to borrow his idea in hitting back at him the BCCI has netted another fortune. But the same body and the not so gentle gentlemen managing that body are asking for a gift of a new book for all its members. A book which defines simple things in multiple languages. Things like respect for players, valuing the player’s contribution, safeguarding the player’s financial interest and most importantly making them feel good by giving them public respectability.
Kapil Dev the fighter and gentleman is now forced to fight it out in court. Does it not occur to be a bit shameful thing for the conscience of the nation that this great legend is forced to visit courts to get his pension back? Can’t the BCCI, the sports minister demonstrate a fraction of his leadership skills. Should they hit him under his belt?
If you make a count of how many hearts in cricketing stadiums across the world were filled with joy while he delivered his best on the field, the number of hearts would cross a billion, (living, dead and artificial including). Wonder how many of those hearts had a heart to walk up to him, email him, and send a letter to him saying that they are with him in his fight against a heartless body called the BCCI. And aren’t today’s cricketers reaping millions because the sport has become so big. Would they disagree that their millions may be way less in numbers if not for the world cup victory? How many have shown solidarity with Kapil Dev? Every other major mass sport like Hockey and football in India would have had rich sports bodies if they had an equivalent of Kapil Dev playing and have bought those world cups to India.
Things which turn the tide of history are subtle things, like a strong timely action (hitting 174 runs to move a place ahead toward world cup victory) the ability to instill confidence in his team member, the ability to grow out of the passive thinking of sports administrators and the ability to instill pride and satisfaction among Indians and the ability to make take a bold new path. A path of victory. These are things which cannot be given a price tag. These are the traits of a leader and administrators cannot understand the value of a leader.
If common sense was a tangible commodity we would procure it and ship a parcel of that to BCCI so that when they use their sharp mind to open it and decipher the contents with minimal essential common sense they would realize that that Mr. Kapil Dev Nikhanj aka the Haryana Hurricane is a living legend and he has to be treated as one.