Cricket

'You should call it a day': Anshuman Gaekwad opens up about Kapil Dev’s retirement

Anshuman Gaekwad made the decision to address Kapil directly in consideration of the future of Indian cricket.

'You should call it a day': Anshuman Gaekwad opens up about Kapil Dev’s retirement

File image of Kapil Dev.

Choosing the ideal cricketers to represent the national squad is difficult for selectors. However, it’s arguably much harder to drop a great cricketer who has been playing for the nation for a long time and has achieved several milestones. The selection committee of former India captain Gundappa Viswanath had a similar challenge in the 1990s when India’s 1983 World Cup-winning captain Kapil Dev was struggling with his poor form towards the end of his international career. The legendary all-rounder bid adieu to international cricket in 1994.

After 28 years of the decision, now, former India opener, Anshuman Gaekwad, a national selector at the time, explained how he persuaded Kapil Dev to end his career following his record-breaking performance against Sri Lanka in 1994, which made him the top wicket-taker in cricket history at that time.

When he dismissed Sri Lanka’s Hashan Tillakaratne in the first innings of the Ahmedabad Test in February 1994, Kapil Dev surpassed New Zealand pacer Richard Hadlee’s record of 431 Test wickets.

Though the selectors thought Kapil Dev would announce his retirement after reaching the milestone, the cricketer, during a press conference, stated that he wanted to continue for two more years. Gaekwad along with then chief selector Vishwanath and then BCCI secretary Jagmohan Dalmiya held a meeting and the trio decided to talk with Kapil Dev regarding the matter. However, it was a hard task to ask a legendary cricketer to quit. Gaekwad made the decision to address Kapil Dev directly in consideration of the future of Indian cricket.

“You can’t drop such a big player. We allowed him [Kapil] to play the Test series against Sri Lanka, and he broke the world record in the Ahmedabad Test. We thought he would announce his retirement after breaking the record. However, that evening, at the press conference, he said that he’ll play for two more years. Next day, a seemingly hassled Vishy (Gundappa Vishwanath) told me, ‘See the headlines. Kapil is saying that he will play for two more years,'” Gaekwad was quoted as saying by Mid-Day.

“That same evening, there was a national selection committee meeting. [Jagmohan] Dalmiya was the BCCI secretary. So, we sat and decided that it was time for Kapil to quit. I suggested to Dalmiya that as a selection committee chairman and senior, Vishy [Viswanath] should talk to him. However, Vishy insisted that I accompany him. At tea time, we approached Kapil in the dressing room. Vishy wasn’t a forthright guy, who would tell you that you were doing something wrong on your face,” added Gaekwad.

So, Gaekwad took the initiative and told to Kapil Dev: “The selectors feel that you should retire now. I think you also agree with that. You can choose your farewell game as per your preference, but you should call it a day.” In response, Kapil Dev calmly thanked and appreciated Gaekwad for saying it directly to him.

Throughout his 16-year-long illustrated career, Kapil Dev featured in 131 Tests and 225 ODIs for India and scalped 434 and 253 wickets respectively. The right-handed batter also got 5,248 runs in Tests and 3,783 runs in ODIs under his belt.

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Updated Date: September 20, 2022 14:24:22 IST

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