Sunday, March 15, 2009

Kapil Dev :: Straight From the Heart

On telling someone in an interview that I loved reading autobiographies, the interviewer asked me have I read anything about Kapil Dev. I replied a no !! making a sad face. I ordered his autobiography "Straight From the Heart" the same day.

Kapil Dev is Dhoni of Old era or that would be injustice to great legend, I would say Dhoni is Kapil of new era. Both have few similarities being brought up in non cricketers producing states of India and both lifted the world cup in earlier stages of their captaincy.

Book start with memories of Kapil's childhood days. Kuckoo as he was known in his family was into sports and atheletics since his childhood and was as away from his studies as is Jammu is away from Kanyakumari. Playing whole day not cricket but football, coming back home and pretending to sleep in front of his father so that he is not scolded for studying. But as we know father is father how much we say child is father of his father. He got trapped when his father used to say this football is torn and it should be thrown away. In a flash Kuckoo was awake and his father used to say "Hmm t rajkumar jaag rahe hain. Ab jaag hi rahe hain, to inse kahye ki thode der baithkar padhaai kar leing... Nautanki kahi ka...."

Just like any other Indian family where children are pushed to only study and study same was the case in Kuckoo's family. Kapil loved challenges and he writes one incident of trying to get on the back of police horses who were not used to clumsy boys. He was successful after few attempts and he takes the police horses away and is caught by his father.

Kapil was as ignorant about cricket as most of the Indians are about Ice Hockey. He used to ask his brother about players when his big brother used to read a cricket magazine.

Kapil used to get irritated when his bother disturbed his sleep listening to cricket commentary in the night. He is introduced to playing cricket by his brother Bushan when one of their team member is absent and Kapil is used in place of 11th player. He showed his fielding skills and impressed everyone. His natural talent is again seen by eveyone when in other match his 4 hits in 5 balls are out of boundary and during bowling he also took 3 wickets. On being encouraged by his brother Kuckoo decides that cricket is his future.

Kapil starts his coaching under coach Azad and is asked to increase his stamina by drinking more and more milk. His dad gets two buffaloes in few days and so he became a milk guzzler as was teased by his sister as Nikhanj Milk Diary. He coaches with other cricketers Yograj Singh, Ashok Malhotra. Kuckoo was assertive and fought for his writes, he writes about an incident where he fought with BCCI officials over food quantity in under-19 camp.

Finally his efforts pay off and he makes his debut under Bishen Singh bedi in Pakistan. He has never watched test match before and here is making his debut against arch rivals Pakistan. He feels the bad side of international cricket when he is teased while batting, but his moment infact moment for India came when bowling Pakistani batsman halts the play and ask for a helmet. So here is a fast bowler who has arrived to prove to the world that India can also produce fast bowlers.

He writes about how less money players got and they couldn't afford to get their clothes washed and they used to wash it themselves. He also writes about the divide in the team among seniors and juniors and how the divide wanished when young crickters came and stopped following orders from seniors and asked for equal rights in decision making. He writes about his and gavaskar spat , various tours and World Cup in details. He also writes about BCCI's nature of changing captain every now and then and how little say the players had in BCCI working.

I enjoyed reading about his 175 run knock against Zimbabwe and world cup final. Its exhilariting to read how a team who is at 66-1 odds from beginning of the cup and also the final lifts the world cup. Its an era when BCCI doesn't give lakhs to a team winning world cup but it has to organize a Lata Mangeshkar show to earn money to give to the world cup winning team.

Book is different from other autobiographies in a way that it has not covered only Kapil cricket but also separate chapters are given to his marriage , matchfixing scandal. He talks in detail about his business, he first started a publishing company but has to close that down with the coming up of satellite telivision in India. Later on he started a ground lighting company which has lighted many stadiums across the country.

Till 200 pages there is no talk of marriage, but in chapter "Love Makes you go round" he talks at length about his marriage and love life. I liked the chapter in which he talks about BCCI, honorary presidentship , biased zonal selection. All this is all relevant today and has been going on for ages, one can easily see the biased selection on seeing Balaji in the team as we know Balaji shares state with one of the selectors.

Finally he talks about the Match Fixing saga, cricket fan will surely hate outlook editor Vinod Mehta who without doing proper enquiry kept on publishing what Manoj Prabhakar said about Kapil's involvement. Other one is noted women writer Shobha De who has written in some article like "She never invites cricketers to her party’’. ’’How can She deduce that all cricketers are involved?’’ is what Kapil wants to know. And what to say about another great Mr Bindra Punjab Cricket Board chief who has seen kapil playing and growing in front of him naming Kapil on cnn. You feel sorry for Kapil when you read things like this. You feel like this is not the way to treat people who have brought laurels to nation.

You will enjoy reading about 83 world cup, 175 against zimbabwe, azar and kapil relationship, wisden Indian cricketer of century award, sunil gavaskar and kapil dev saga , romi his wife and her wierd behavior during the 83 final.

Must read for any one who says he is Indian cricket fan

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