Kapil exits for screen test - Mike Selvey

THE Haryana Hurricane has blown itself out. Sixteen years after his debut for India, Kapil Dev, the leading Test wicket- taker with 434, has announced his retirement to start a career as a television commentator.

The man who might have been Omar Sharif`s double in Lawrence of Arabia is set to appear on screen today when India face New Zealand in the triangular tournament he might have played in had not injury intervened.

Kapil is 35, although he seems to have been around forever. He played for Haryana at 16, made his Test debut in Faisalabad in 1978 and played 131 Tests inall.

"I think it is time," he said yesterday. "I`m leaving with a happy heart. I enjoyed my cricket and I am grateful to my coun- trymen who gave me such tremendous love, respect and affection."

He is the only man to pass 5,000 runs and take 400 wickets in Test cricket. His wickets (at 29.64 apiece) came with snaking away-swing and vicious break-back, his 5,248 runs (at 31.05) with clean, uninhibited striking. He was the last survivor of an era of all-rounders that embraced Ian Botham, Sir Richard Hadlee and Imran Khan.

He captained India in 34 Tests and led them, against the odds, to a remarkable World Cup triumph in 1983.

The youngest to reach 100 Test wickets, at 21 years and 21 days, his best return was nine for 83 at Ahmedabad against West Indies in 1983. He finally clawed his way past Hadlee`s Test record of 431 wickets last February.

"The emotion was one of gratefulness," he said. "I was grate- ful to the Almighty, my parents, my wife, team-mates and millions of cricket fans everywhere for making it possible." It might have been an Oscar acceptance.

It was hard work by the end. His pace - once quicker than it looked - became medium and the swing became early drift. Only the record kept him going.

Thanks :: The Guardian