Zafar Iqbal (left) and Ashok Kumar (Images courtesy: Amity and Stick2hockey.com)
It was a huge honour to be sharing the same space as hockey legends Ashok Kumar, member of the 1975 World Cup winning team, and Zafar Iqbal, who was part of the squad that won the 1980 Olympic Games gold medal. All India Radio broadcast our conversation on September 14, 2011. Our chat focussed on the Indian team’s win in the inaugural Asian Champions Trophy tournament in Ordos, China, and on the road ahead that includes qualifying tournaments for the Champions Trophy and the Olympic Games. I started by asking Ashok if this win is another new dawn for Indian hockey.
Since the chat was in Hindi, I shall try and post a English version soon. Click on the link below to hear the chat.
The phone rang almost as soon as I completed a show on All India Radio where I was a guest, answering questions during the supper break in the Compaq Cup match between India and New Zealand on a hectic Friday. “Can I also ask you a question?” said the distinctively deep voice, whose owner answers to the name of Kapil Dev.
Kapil Dev remains forthright as ever (Photo courtesy: Laureus Academy)
I have always valued feedback – criticism and appreciation – as being essential to any communication and hearing from Kapil Dev was a humbling experience. The immediate feeling was not of elation that India’s only World Cup winning captain called but of satisfaction that the show was being heard and elicited feedback.
“I also call Rakesh-saab,” he said during the conversation, alluding to former India leg-spinner Rakesh Shukla who was on the show called Kaun Banega Vijeta? To hear a man who had played 131 Tests for India without ever missing one on fitness grounds use the respectful saab for a man who played but one Test match in 1982 was, simply stated, delightfully humble.
Kapil Dev seemed to have the time and we got into a discussion about how he would even today stand up respectfully in the presence of his seniors and about how such traditions are handed down in the dressing room. I have seen Mohammed Azharuddin rise from his seat and stay on his feet until Sunil Gavaskar who arrived later sat down.
“Bishan-paaji will always be Bishan-paaji for me… never Bishan,” Kapil Dev said of his first captain Bishan Singh Bedi. “I cannot think of any other way. We have been taught the importance of respecting our seniors, even if we have some differences of opinion once in a while. Read more »