Why I am a Kapil fan...
I was 11 years old when I saw Kapil play for the first time- on TV, but I
became a fan almost instantly. He did not have his 400 test wickets and 100
strike rate or whatever, but he sure made my pulse race when he was at the
crease. I just had to watch him play and I knew there was something special
about him. I did not have to look at his stats then, and I don't have to now.
When he was at the crease, I felt like anything was possible. No matter who
the bowler was, I felt sure Kapil was going to hit him out of the ground next
ball. When he ran up to bowl, I was convinced he was going to get a wicket.
Even when he got hit for four, I thought....that was a lucky shot.
If you told me that some guy just hit four straight sixes to avoid the follow
on in a test match, my first response would be- it must have been Kapil!
He gave me some moments that I will always cherish. I still vividly remember
him nonchalantly hitting Hadlee for 13 runs in an over (Vengsarkar added four
more) in the WCC '85 semifinal. I remember listening late one night to radio
commentary from the West Indies, when the WI quicks were running through the
Indian batting. The mood was quite sombre- until Kapil stepped out to bat. He
hooked the first bouncer he got for four, and my heart leaped. It was nerve
wracking listening to the commentary after that, not knowing if the crowd
noise after each delivery was a big hit or another wicket. He may not have
scored too many runs that day, but he brought all the joy and e***ment of
the game back to me. He was a world beater when we did not have too many of
those to look up to. He is a winner.
People seem to use all sorts of statistical analysis to either deride or
defend Kapil's greatness. For them, I will say, that the only thing I ever
needed to be a Kapil fan was to feel my heart beating faster and the
adrenaline in my veins when he was at the crease, or running in to bowl. I
grew up watching him play. I shared in his joys and disappointments, like all
cricket fans in India did. He gave us all some wonderful memories. No amount
of number crunching can take that away. So, all you statisticians, use your
calculators and do your statistics and pick apart all the records. Just don't
expect me to take you seriously.