Kapil Dropped


Kapil dropped. But why!!!!

From Kapil's autobiography:

Mrs.Indira Gandhi's assasination highlighted the conflict inherent in India in the 80s. A section of the Sikh community clamouredfor more autonomy. The Adivasis in Assam strove for some form of redress. The Marxist state government in Calcutta blamed the choked sewere on an unsympathetic central government. The beggars still lived from day to day. The rich looked for Cognac and Heineken beer at the Iraqui Embassy. The Calcutta underground railway was still incomplete, after 7 years, and religiously flooded every monsoon.

This was India preparing for the 21st century. Rajiv Gandhi was determined to have incorruptible men around him. Men of independent means. To give independence to a country strangled by bureaucracy and petty government corruption. He selected as his closest advisors a successful businessman, a famous actor and a proven public relations and a media man. He didn't want any 'yes' men around him. The bitterness raged in the north. Chandigarh was tense, holding its breath. The nation mourned (the death of Mrs. Indira gandhi) as the MCC arrived for a three month cricket tour.

The first test was about to get underway in Bombay. I went into this test as a written-off bowler. The journalists mourned for my supposedly withered knee. What they forgot was that the surgeon had operated on my knee and not my back bone. Some Indian cricket writers suggested that I may be a spent force. I had lost my captaincy but I was determined to regain it sooner or later. Little did I know that losing captaincy was only the first part of a master plan orchestrated to bring about my total demise.

We whitewashed England in the first test at Bombay and the team was once again the toast of India. Little Siva, our legspinner just out of school wove his own brand of magic on the flat-footed Englishmen. Things were looking rosy. The next test in New Delhi was the low point of my career. I topscored in the first innings when things were looking decidedly shaky for us. I helped our score to a semblance of respectability. England remained in the drivers seat throughout this match. It was during the second innings when I commited my 'crime'. I had come in to bat with our innings again looking brittle. I slammed a ball for six and was bowled out on the next ball trying to repeat the dose. It was this one shot for which I was held responsible for India losing the test match. Maybe they had expected me to hit the ball into space so the match could have been called off. I was dropped from the next test in Calcutta.

"Disciplinary reasons" the selectors stated tersely. Little did the know of the discipline required to come back after a knee operation and the torture one has to put the mind and body through. The endless pain barriers one crosses. Bureaucrats in padded chairs only know the pain of piles. They wanted a scapegoat and it was me. I was furious. I thought of giving it away. I had spent the last five years giving Indian cricket everything I had and then some more. I fought when we looked like losing.

The 'tall poppy' syndrome was alive in India. These people forget Melbourne 1981. I had a pulled groin muscle. I bowled unchanged for three hours- on a prayer and painkilling injections. It was gratifying to see the public reaction. They shouted for my reinstatement. The Cricket Board was compelled to issue a statement saying it was only a temporary sacking and I would be back for the fourth test in Madras. I was appreciative of only one thing during the two week period that I was on the outer. Mansur Ali Khan, the ex-Nawab of Pataudi and an ex-captain of India sent me a consoling telegram:


This man is a prince in every sense of word. Thanks Tiger.

The fourth test match in Madras was historical as England's total of 652 for 7 declared was their highest since 1939 when they scored 654 for 5 against South Africa in Durban. It was also the highest score by any visiting team in India. I bowled 36 overs and captured two wickets. I also had two good knocks of 53 and 49. England won but I had vindicated myself in the myopic eyes of the selectors.

The fifth test at Kanpur was drawn. I scored 42 of 33 balls and took 4 for 81 off 36.5 overs in England's first innings. No other bowler, on either side, took more wickets in the match. My knee was fine, and my discipline was improving! Forgetting my own anger during the series I was happy to see 'Azzu' coming good. He scored a century in each of the three tests he played and stamped his class on the series. He was going to be great for Indian cricket. I promised him a cricket bat if he scored a century in his second match. And he did. I gave him a Slazenger bat as I had promised. I mention this here because I remember the first match I played for North Zone. Bishen Bedi, an ex-Indian captain was selling off one of his Gray Niccols bats. The going price in those inflation-free days was Rs.500. I was only seventeen years old and managed to scrape up Rs.475 with the help of Ashok Malhotra. It wasn't enough to buy me the bat. That incident made me determined never to sell any of my cricket bats. I 'll give them away but I'never put a price on them. I know its common practice for visiting players to sell their bats in India at the end of the tour. It's good jam money. In hindsight perhaps it's just as well I didn't buy that bat from Bishen Bedi. The way I bat it wouldn't have lasted a game.

Much has been said about my so-called differences of opinon with Sunil Gavaskar. I am by nature a reserved person off the field. I have strong views on most subjects but am not argumentative. Sunil and I have differed on many issues but we have never verbally brawled in public or in private.

As far as my commitment goes I played for six consecutive years before I was dropped. The president of the India Cricket Board told me not to take it too hard. He also said I wasn't dropped for disciplinary reasons. And therein lies the irony.