| Kapil Dev with Sourav Ganguly at the Eden camp. Picture by Pabitra Das
Calcutta, March 7: Last Sunday, the focus was on Imran Khan at the Gadaffi.
Today, much of the attention at the Eden, on Day-I of the preparatory camp, was on Kapil Dev. India’s psychological counter to the cricketer-turned-politician, though, kept an unusually low profile.
“I have a short (three-day) assignment and my priority is to understand what the fast bowlers want to know from me,” the Team India bowling consultant told The Telegraph, on returning to the Taj after some hours at a ground which once saw “No Kapil No Test” banners.
While the Pakistan-bound lads, sans Ashish Nehra and Yuvraj Singh who are busy in the Duleep final, turned up around 1.30 pm, Kapil came later. And, in keeping with a conscious decision not to impose himself, didn’t speak much publicly.
However, Kapil had a session with the Zaheer Khans lined-up at the hotel. “I’ve called them collectively and, over the next couple of days, will interact with them individually as well. Having come this far, kuch to main unke saath karoonga (I’ll do something with them). But, as I’ve already explained, I'm no coach,” he pointed out.
Kapil, of course, emphasised he would initially be a “listener” only. “I must first know their requirements.... Talking about mental toughness and all is fine, but do they want me to speak about that or.... Also, I’ve got to be clear about the direction the coach (John Wright) wants me to take.... I don’t want the players to get confused.”
For his part, Wright feels it’s “great” to have Kapil (his full-time predecessor) around. “I see him as a value add-on,” is how he put it.
All parties involved, though, realise that the consultant can’t work wonders.
Indeed, the other day, captain Sourav Ganguly was brutally blunt when he said: “Nobody can effect a change in such a short period. If somebody does, he is actually going to be doing more harm than good.”
Having made his Test and ODI debut in Pakistan, in the first Revival Series (1978-79), Kapil is familiar with conditions across the border. So, what does it take to succeed there'
“A big heart.... Pitches in Pakistan are very different to the ones in Australia or England... Therefore, you’ve got to have a big heart and should never give up.... You can’t allow the conditions to beat you mentally and there must not be any let-up in the hundred per cent effort. In my view, the tougher boys will do better,” Kapil said.
Sourav and Wright have been talking on similar lines — and, so, that’s a good starting point. Kapil (Team India coach for a year from September 1999) is keeping his door open for “anybody — including the batsmen” to come and talk cricket.
It’s Dil Se.