Former India captain Kapil Dev has a special bonding with England. It was this country where he led India to its maiden World Cup triumph back in 1983 and also captained the national team to its historic Test series win (2-0) in 1986.
As an all-round cricketer, Kapil has plenty of wonderful memories attached to the English soil. Despite batting lower down the order, Dev averaged 35.44 in England with 1 century and 5 fifties while he claimed 43 wickets in 13 Tests at 39.18 including two five-wicket hauls.
As India gear up to take on England in the high-octane five-match Test series, Kapil has recalled how it was like playing in the United Kingdom and what actually an outside team should do to conquer those adverse conditions.
“Session to session is what I was taught when tackling Test cricket. Each session produces different tests. It is so strongly experienced in England. You are constantly on trial and that’s the beauty of competing in England, intriguing at every step literally,” Kapil told Sportstar.
Reflecting on his England tours — 1979, 1982, 1986 and 1990 — besides the 1983 World Cup triumph, he added: “You feel like a complete cricketer if you perform in England. The bowler has to minutely mind his length and the batsman has to monitor his footwork astutely. It is gripping cricket.”
While playing in England, Kapil feels bowlers and batsmen must remain patient to get the fruitful reward.
“Good line and length is basic, but patience is an art you develop. Batsmen too have to watch out and wait. You can’t just take guard and launch into a cover drive. That is a shot which should be avoided unless you have dug yourself in. Cover-drive in England can spell doom,” Dev remarked.
“Going after the bowlers doesn’t work in England. The pitch and the conditions dictate the course of the play in England. In no other part of the world does weather play such an important part. The playing conditions change four times a day and test your temperament and skills,” he elaborated.
Over the years, Kapil also learnt to “respect” the opponent during his stints in England.
“You may go wicketless the whole day because the batsmen are patient. Suddenly, one session may fetch you three or four wickets because the conditions change and favour the bowlers. It is so fascinating and intriguing,” he pointed out.
Kapil Dev concluded by advising the Indian team to stay patient. He feels that the current crop of Indian players have it in them to rewrite the history books on English soil.
“Wait for the kill. Patience, more than any other quality, will help you hunt successfully. I believe this team has a real chance to shine in England,” Kapil concluded.
The much-awaited Test series between England and India will commence on August 1 at Edgbaston, Birmingham.
India squad for first three Tests against England:
Virat Kohli(c), Shikhar Dhawan, Lokesh Rahul, Dinesh Karthik, Kuldeep Yadav, Hardik Pandya, Umesh Yadav, Shardul Thakur, Murali Vijay, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane, Karun Nair, Rishabh Pant, Ravichandran Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Jasprit Bumrah, Ishant Sharma, Mohammed Shami