Recalling his playing days, Kapil Dev has opined that he was a fitter athlete than Richard Hadlee, Imran Khan and Ian Botham combined in world cricket. However, at the same time, he credited all the three of them for being outrageous talents, appreciating their hard work and skills.
India’s 1983 World Cup-winning skipper Kapil Dev has been a face of all-rounders around the world. Combined with his aggressive batting, the Indian all-rounder also had an uncanny ability to conjure up batsmen with his bowling. This separated him from the other lot of all-rounders who played for other nations during the same time.
At the same time around the world, there were other all-rounders who were getting to the top of their game, including Richard Hadlee, Imran Khan and Ian Botham. However, Kapil Dev opined that was a far better athlete purely in terms of fitness than all the three all-rounders combined whilst he still credited their cricketing abilities over his own.
"I wouldn’t say I was the greatest, but I was a better athlete than all three put together," Kapil told former India cricketer and current head coach of Indian women’s team WV Raman on Inside Out podcast.
However, that did not stop the now 61-year-old to credit the trio for their outstanding hard work during their playing days. Whilst he called Hadlee the best bowler amongst the four, he termed Pakistan’s Imran Khan as the most hardworking player during that era.
"The best bowling was Richard Hadlee’s - he was like a computer among the four of us. I wouldn’t say Imran Khan was the best athlete or the most natural, but he was the most hardworking player we’ve seen. When he started out, he looked like an ordinary bowler, but then he became a very hardworking fast bowler and he learned by himself. And then he worked on his batting as well."
The Indian all-rounder also pointed out how England’s Ian Botham was the truest of all-rounders, with the match-winning ability that makes him stand out from the rest.
“Ian Botham was a true all-rounder - in given conditions, he could win a match on his own. I wouldn’t say Hadlee was the best batsman. Botham could do damage to the opposition both with bat [and ball]. Imran could run through the [opposition] team, but his ability as a leader was far better. To control the Pakistan team, he had a challenge.”