Former Indian skipper Kapil Dev is widely deemed as one of the greatest all-rounders of all-time. He was an outstanding fielder, a brilliant bowler and a dangerous batsman, who could tear apart any attack on his day.
Dev, who led India to 1983 World Cup triumph, played 131 Tests and 225 ODIs in his illustrious career. While he scored 5248 runs and claimed 434 wickets in the longest format, he made 3783 runs and picked up 253 scalps in ODIs.
Kapil retired from the cricket in 1994 and Team India are yet to find an all-rounder of his calibre who can consistently win games with bat and ball. In fact, very few all-rounders from the modern era can match his class.
On the contrary, a number of quality all-rounders were around during his era, including Imran Khan, Ian Botham and Richard Hadlee. All four of them were fierce competitors and used to get constantly compared with each other.
Recently, Kapil gave his take on the comparisons with the other three greats and remarked that he was the fittest of them all as an athlete.
“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.
He also described how Imran, Botham and Hadlee were different from each other. The former India captain ranked Hadlee as the best bowler among the four while he called Imran the most hard-working and rated Botham as a true all-rounder.
“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,” Dev opined.
“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 was a challenge,” he elaborated.