Former Indian all-rounder and World Cup-winning captain Kapil Dev believes that he was a better athlete than other legendary pace-bowling all-rounders of his times – England’s Sir Ian Botham, New Zealand’s Sir Richard Hadlee and Pakistan’s Imran Khan.
Kapil Dev served the international cricket between 1978 and 1994 where he played 131 Tests and 225 ODIs. The right-arm pacer was also famous for his useful aggressive batting. He also finished international career as the most Test wicket-taker as he finished with 434 Test wickets.
Also, under Kapil’s captaincy, India won their maiden Cricket World Cup in the 1983 edition after beating the two-time World Cup winners West Indies in the final at Lord’s.
Recently, during the Inside Out podcast, Kapil told the former Indian cricketer and present Head Coach of the India Women’s national cricket team, WV Raman, that even he wasn’t the greatest, he was the better athlete than Sir Ian Botham, Sir Richard Hadlee and Imran Khan.
Kapil said, “I wouldn’t say I was the greatest, but I was a better athlete than all three put together. The best bowling was Richard Hadlee’s – he was like a computer among the four of us.”
Imran Khan was the most hardworking player we’ve seen: Kapil Dev
Though Kapil doesn’t consider the 1992 World Cup-winning Pakistan captain Imran Khan as the best athlete, the former Indian captain called him as the most hardworking players.
He claimed, “Wouldn’t say Imran Khan was the best athlete or the most natural, but he was the most hardworking player we’ve seen. When he started out, he looked like an ordinary bowler, but then he became a very hardworking fast bowler and he learned by himself. And then he worked on his batting as well.”
On the other hand, Kapil said that Botham was a true all-rounder in the specific condition while he didn’t feel Hadlee was the best batsman.
Kapil added, “Ian Botham was a true all-rounder – in given conditions, he could win a match on his own. I wouldn’t say Hadlee was the best batsman.”
While the former Indian captain further praised Botham for his all-rounder skills, he also felt that Imran was a far better captain than his all-rounder skills.
Kapil Dev continued, “Botham could do damage to the opposition both with bat [and ball]. Imran could run through the [opposition] team, but his ability as a leader was far better. To control the Pakistan team, he had a challenge.”