| Michael Atherton and Kapil Dev in the city on Sunday. Picture by Amit Datta
Calcutta: The world seems to be going against Abhijit Kale, but there are some who still believe that the Maharashtra right-hander should be given the opportunity to prove his innocence.
And Kale can take heart from the fact that someone like Kapil Dev has decided to take his side.
Both Kapil and former England captain Michael Atherton were at the Tollygunge Club on Sunday to participate in the Heritage Consular Golf.
“How can you ban a player when he is not proven guilty'” Kapil wondered. The BCCI had banned Kale from playing in any tournament organised by it as long as the probe on the bribery allegations is on.
Kale has been accused of offering selectors Pranab Roy and Kiran More inducements to make his way into Team India.
Kapil said he himself had gone through such a phase, when his name was linked with the match-fixing controversy. “I’ve been through all these and I’ve complete support for this man.
“If he is not proven guilty, I wonder how the BCCI will compensate him.” However, Kapil made it clear he “would hate Kale” if the charge is proved.
The veteran even went to the extent of saying that the BCCI officials be punished if the allegations cannot be proven.
“Would the BCCI have acted against any of its officials in the same vein had a finger been raised on any issue'” the former India captain said.
The issue of appointing a bowling coach also came up during the course of the chat and Kapil again sounded a little sarcastic. “May be more than bowling coaches, we need administrative coaches,” he quipped.
He further said he has never been approached by the BCCI to take up the assignment. Kapil wasn’t too confident of India’s chances in the ongoing Tour Down Under, especially in the Test matches.
“In the last 20 years, in spite of our improvement in one-day cricket, we’ve gone from bad to worse as a Test side,” he said. “If this sort of a performance persists, it’s time someone should take responsibility…”
However, he felt India’s performance in the recently concluded tri-series should not deter them from putting up a fight. “They should never lose heart and always keep in mind, they lost to a better side.”
Commenting on Jawagal Srinath’s retirement, the master said India will surely miss him. “But we can’t cry over it. We need to move on.”
Atherton, on the other hand, believes much will depend on the performance of the openers if India hope to entertain any hopes against the Aussies.
“The openers have to come good… If they can’t give a good start, things will become uphill for the Indians straight away.
“Once the openers don’t deliver the goods, there will be too much pressure on the middle-order and the Australians have every chance to run through the batting,” the former England opener felt.
The fact that he hasn’t seen India of late in Test matches restrained him from making a comment on the quality of the openers.
“The last time I saw India in Test matches was in England last year. A lot has changed after that,” he said.
“India looked a competitive side in the World Cup, and if they can keep it going, they can give the champions a good run for their money,” Atherton said. “Doesn’t matter if they lose, India should at least pose a reasonable challenge.”
Talking of the technical aspects, the opener felt the Indians or the Englishmen always find it tough to adjust themselves to Australian conditions because of the steep bounce in the wickets.
“The case is not the same with the Aussies, because it’s always easier to adjust with lower bounce coming from higher bounce,” Atherton signed off.