September 12, 2000

Kapil's resignation: too little too late

Kapil Dev has finally made a decision that will win him a few hearts. One wonders whether it might be a case of too little too late. The man who came in at 17/5 in a World Cup match against Zimbabwe at Tunbridge Wells that the BBC thought was not important enough to cover and turned things around by blazing 175 not out has decided to step down as coach of India. In the past few weeks public opinion has been veering slowly but steadily away from the all rounder. The president of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) AC Muthiah is under all sorts of pressure himself. At a time like this, Kapil Dev did the only sensible thing possible.

Perhaps things might have been different if he had not wept dramatically on a pre recorded television interview. Perhaps things might have been different if former Indian captain Ravi Shastri had not confided in a surreptitious video recording that Kapil Dev was indeed involved in murky dealings. Perhaps things might be different if the selectors had not dropped 'tainted' players from the Indian probables for the ICC Knock Out Trophy. Perhaps things might have been different if India had better results in the last year. But things are not different.

The situation is dire. Just days before Kapil Dev announced his resignation, Muthiah went on record to say that the BCCI might invite him to attend the preparatory camp to be held in Chennai. At the same time Muthiah said that the BCCI was looking to appoint a foreign coach. What then would be the fate of the probables at the preparatory camp? Would we be facing the unlikely scenario of a preparatory camp without a coach? The name now being touted as interim coach is that of former coach Anshuman Gaekwad. One wonders what he can achieve given the fact that he is clearly only a stop gap measure.

One thing that is a bit surprising is the timing of his announcement. Kapil Dev could have waited this long only in the anticipation that his name would be eventually cleared by investigating authorities. That has not happened yet. Although he came out of a meeting with the Central Bureau of Investigation smiling broadly, there are still several unresolved issues. The fact that Kapil Dev resigned is not entirely unexpected. But what prompted this? What machinations happened between officials of the Board, investigating agencies, Kapil Dev and indeed powerful politicians of this country?

Very few people will be privy to that information. One will however have to be satisfied with the knowledge that Kapil Dev has resigned. That may or may not be a satisfactory admission of guilt. However, one is willing to safely wager that a majority of the Indian people are happy to see the back of Kapil Dev.