India’s 1983 World Cup-winning captain Kapil Dev opened up on his comparison with the likes of Imran Khan, Ian Bothan and Richard Hadlee, saying he was the fittest of all three as an athlete if not the greatest.
Imran, Hadlee, Kapil and Ian Botham stand out for their outstanding contribution and incredible performances. These four players played a crucial role in improving the overall performance of their respective teams.
Kapil Dev led the Indian team to their first World Cup victory, whereas Imran Khan gave Pakistan an identity and made them world champions.
With Ian Botham, England played the best cricket of that era and he was often the catalyst in their success. New Zealand had little success at the international level, but in Richard Hadlee, they found the match-winner and their role model.
“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.
“The best bowling was Richard Hadlee’s – he was like a computer among the four of us.”
Kapil was impressed by Imran Khan’s dedication and determination to get better as he rated former Pakistan skipper the most hardworking player he has ever seen.
“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,” Kapil added.
“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,” the former India captain said.
“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.”