Former Indian cricketer Kapil Dev had inspired thousands of Indians to take cricket as their career after guiding the team to World Cup victory in 1983. For former allrounder Irfan Pathan, Dev was also his hero whom he watched growing up.
Kapil Dev was the first genuine fast bowler for India who gave equal contribution with his bat. He is counted among the great allrounders Ian Botham, Richard Hadlee and Imran Khan of his era.
Kapil Dev led India to an unprecedented victory in the World Cup 1983 victory. The team was never considered as the strong contender of winning the mega event but Kapil’s miraculous captaincy led India to etch history.
While talking to ESPNCricinfo, Irfan Pathan recalls his childhood days when he used to watch Kapil Dev. He considered the former Indian captain as his role model.
“I don’t think there was a bigger sporting hero than Kapil Dev when I was growing up. He was captain of the side, a match-winner with the bat, and he swung the ball. If anyone wanted to be an allrounder in India, there was no better role model,” he added.
Irfan Pathan first meeting with Kapil Dev:
Irfan Pathan first time meet Kapil during a training camp in 2004 in Kolkata. During the practice session, the world cup winning captain shared some wise tips to Pathan to improve fast bowling.
“The first time I met Kapil paaji was in 2004. We had a fast bowlers’ camp in Kolkata before the Pakistan tour. There we discussed different aspects of fast bowling – swing, wrist position. He would always say the wrist should be supple and he emphasised the importance of recovery between series.”
However, now Irfan and Kapil work as a cricket commentator. The former recalls the time he has shared with the latter in the studio before and after the match. Pathan feels this is unrealistic for him to work with his idol.
“My fondest memories, however, are of working with him at the Star Sports studio. The non-stop talk, eating jalebis… he always brings something or the other to eat. I consider myself lucky that I am working with my role model. A couple of years ago, he invited me for dinner to his home in Delhi and we chatted for a long time. You realise that despite being such a big icon, he is so humble. Watching him at work, interacting freely, having such a special bond… sometimes when I look back, it all feels so unreal,” the Jammu and Kashmir coach said.’
Meanwhile, Irfan Pathan retired from the international form of cricket in January this year. He was the part of India’s victory in the 2007 T20 World Cup.