Social Media Trolls Spare No One, Not Even World Cup Winning Skipper Kapil Dev

Trolling has become the name of the game in today’s social media world. Any action by someone in the spotlight, or by someone doing something in public, cannot escape being trolled.

Be it Virat Kohli or Rohit Sharma, Sachin Tendulkar or MS Dhoni, Ravi Shastri or Sunil Gavaskar, all those who have achieved great success in cricket and are revered not only in India but abroad have no choice but to be trolled for them to be in the public eye, to make statements, or to do anything that catches on the eagle-eyed TV cameras or the smartphones in everyone’s hands.

Also read: Opinion | Kapil Dev has hurled the truth where it hurts mollycoddled Gen Z

Kapil Dev, India’s 1983 World Cup-winning captain and one of the greatest all-rounders the world has ever seen, has not been spared on social media for making comments about players giving in to the pressure and complaining. He was slammed for his mental health comments.

“I often hear on TV that there is a lot of pressure on players to play in the IPL. Then I only say one thing: ‘Don’t play’. If a player has passion, there will be no pressure. I can’t understand those American terms, pressure, depression. I’m a pawn and we play because we enjoy the game and there can’t be any pressure while we enjoy the game,” Kapil said at an event with badminton ace Saina Nehwal at his side.

On this day in 1983: Kapil Dev’s historic 175 that inspired India to their first Cricket World Cup

“I remember going to a school where the 10th and 11th graders said they were under a lot of pressure. I said, ‘So you’re under pressure too?’ You study in AC classes, fees are paid by parents, teachers can’t beat you and then you say there’s pressure. Ask me what pressure was in my time. Teachers used to beat us up and then asked “where did we go”. The students need to turn this into joy and fun, pressure is a very wrong word. When you’re in love, there can’t be any pressure. I love my game and it can’t be pressure. We just prayed it wouldn’t rain so we could play. It wasn’t pressure, it was joy,” added the 63-year-old.

Kapil has always spoken his heart out, may have struggled with English but has always inspired more than a generation with his spectacular acts on cricket grounds around the world, nothing beats the Indian team to the World Cup 39 years ago to lead triumph when no one else thought they could go the full distance.
Kapil Dev’s teammates from the 1983 World Cup stood by his testimony. There is no better group of people to understand Kapil exactly what he meant. While many of Kapil’s teammates who contacted didn’t want to act on Kapil’s statement, they only supported their captain as to what exactly he meant and that if people didn’t like his comments, they should take it positively and move on.

Sandeep Patil and Krishnamachari Srikkanth, India’s top two scorers in the 1983 World Cup final against the West Indies, said they were Kapil’s statements and declined to comment. They said they would rather discuss cricket matters with Patil and even apologized to focus on the upcoming Mumbai Cricket Association election for which he is running for president.

Madan Lal, the medium-paced player who played a crucial role in that 1983 World Cup victory and later became the coach of the Indian cricket team and also a national selector, agreed with Kapil. “What Kapil said is correct. Kapil meant you will have pressure and you need to be able to handle it. The pressure brings out the best in you. Everyone is under pressure. Parents have to feed their children under pressure. Even players representing the country are under pressure. How you tackle it is the name of the game. Nowadays people troll even if you say something and it’s twisted. Kapil Dev is right. He has seen everything. He has the experience,” Lal said.

Kapil’s new ball partner and another key member of the 1983 World Cup, Balwinder Singh Sandhu, also supported his captain. “That’s Kapil’s way of expressing himself. It’s his view on pressure. Different people will have different views. That doesn’t mean what he says is nonsense. People should know how to respect the views of others. He put it very simply, how he understands (the word pressure) and how he wants to express it. If you don’t like it, that’s ok. Kapil may not agree with the views of others. I don’t think you need to take this so seriously. He has stated his point of view. You don’t agree, it’s okay.”

A former cricketer, who asked not to be named, said Kapil’s choice of words might have been better. “He says how he feels. Kapil meant it positively, don’t get bogged down in it. The choice of words could have been a little better. But this is Kapil Dev, he says it how he feels,” the player said while giving a few examples from Kapil’s playing career.

“What he said is good from his point of view. You can’t make it generic. The problem with making it generic is that it has to be the standard for everyone. No, that will never happen. To each his own. I’ve seen people do it extremely well (under pressure). You weigh your pros and cons,” he said.

Kapil was dropped for the only Test of his glittering career of 131 Tests and 225 ODIs. And that was because in the 1984-85 Delhi Test against David Gower’s England under Sunil Gavaskar’s captain, he played a hasty shot and caught a catch at depth.

“The team was under pressure. This test required a specific approach. There are times when you play the game a little differently, away from your natural game. But people say, “That’s how he plays”. The pressure varies from person to person. One deals with it one way, the other differently. If Gavaskar didn’t see a chance to win a Test, he was ready to play out a tie. On the other hand, even when Kapil saw a 1% chance of winning, he tried and ended up losing. That’s the view you have. If someone says there’s no pressure at all, that’s never the case, no matter how good you are,” said the former player, who also gave the example of Kapil’s 175 without pressure.

“Take the example of the 1983 World Cup match against Zimbabwe. India were 17 for five. Anyone who says the team wasn’t under pressure is wrong. From 17 for five it was important how you fit in. If you’ve watched Kapil’s innings, it wasn’t like he was batting in his usual fashion. He was spending more time on the field and realizing when he could play his shots and bring seriousness into play. Everyone who entered after that played the supporting role. Roger Binny, Madan Lal and Syed Kirmani were the main players, while Kapil later scored much faster. The partnerships they had with Kapil certainly helped build a successful grand total. India was under pressure at the time. A loss to Zimbabwe would have hurt India’s chances of progressing to the semi-finals. At that point, India would have been devastated.

“Let’s understand one thing, be it the board reviews and all that, there’s always the fear factor. There is pressure no matter what kind of preparation is made. You’re looking for a good college. It’s certainly not a walk in the park. Some handle pressure better, some don’t.”

Kapil Dev’s almost ten-year-old teammate and all-rounder of the 1983 World Cup team, Ravi Shastri, had last laughed at trolling. When asked how he dealt with players during his tenure as head coach of the Indian team when they were trolled and whether it affected their performances, the former India captain and a popular commentator said: “I don’t think so these trolls, walkers, etc. Our position is that one day you’re in troll position and the next day after you’ve scored two hundred points or won two games, you’re in pole position. From the troll position you go directly to the Lewis Hamilton position and drive to pole position. These trolls make no difference.”

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