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David Capel: unfairly labelled as the ‘next Ian Botham’

David Capel © Getty Images
David Capel took 21 wickets and scored 374 runs in 15 Tests. He also took 17 wickets and amassed 327 runs in 23 ODIs © Getty Images

Born on February 6, 1963, David Capel was a promising all-rounder who was labeled as the ‘next Ian Botham’ since he made his debut in July 1987. Abhijit Banare looks back at some of the highlights of Capel’s career.

Every country has had its cricketing heroes who have been widely celebrated. But the only pitfall of having legends are that, those with similar abilities playing around them often fall in to the trap of comparison. Ian Botham was one such player in the 1980s. Everybody wanted to emulate him or sometimes forced to emulate. Ever since his sensational 1981 Ashes, Botham was showered with praises. And on expected lines, all-rounders around him were compared to Botham. Phil DeFreitas, Derek Pringle were among the players compared with Botham. And one of the forgotten ones during the 1980s was David Capel, an all-rounder who rarely lived up to the expectations.

“If they asked, I did say, in my naivety, that I wanted to play like Botham. And somehow that would get twisted into criticism of him.” Capel was quoted in a Wisden Almanack report about his comparison with Botham.

Capel was born in Northampton and remained loyal to his county for 33 long years. His first stint with the county team was for the Northamptonshire Colts in 1979 as an opener. He continued to play for the second XI and made his maiden appearance for Eastern Province in October 1985. His best performance came against Leicestershire in June 1995 when he scored 175 in the first innings. Capel passed his previous best of 167 against Kent in 1995. Capel played for Northamptonshire from 1981 to 1998, scoring 12,202 runs at a less than impressive average of 29.68 and snared 546 wickets.

Capel made his international debut against India in quadrangular Sharjah Cup in 1987 involving Pakistan, India and Australia. It was a forgettable outing, as he was run-out for eight in his debut innings against India and picked up the wicket of Krishnamachari Srikkanth. But it was his Test debut against Pakistan which made Capel a promising prospect for England. He walked in with his team reeling at 31 for five. He did bat along with Botham and shared a 54-run stand until the maverick all-rounder was dismissed for 26. Capel went onto score 53 from 161 deliveries. Ironically, it was the only Test in which Capel and Botham ever played together.  While he failed to deliver the goods in his other Tests, One-Day Internationals (ODIs) were comparatively more fruitful, scoring 327 in 23 matches, with his highest being an unbeaten 50 against Pakistan at Karachi in 1987. Interestingly, his highest Test score of 98 also came at the same venue in same series. He picked 17 wickets conceding 4.65 runs an over. The last time he played for England was in April 1990 in the fifth Test against West Indies. In his 15 Tests for England, he scored 374 runs and picked 21 wickets.

However, Capel continued to play for the Northamptonshire second XI. He played in World Masters too at the age of 37. Even after his playing days were over, he was in-charge of the county’s academy and the second XI side. His promotion came in 2006, when Kepler Wessels quit the role of the club’s head coach and Capel took over. For six years he served as the coach of the county from where he started off in 1979.

However, six years later, Capel was sacked in 2012. But it was just the beginning of a different role for him. “I am naturally very disappointed at this decision, but can look back with pride at my achievements at Northamptonshire, and am looking forward to moving on and continuing my career in first class cricket at another County,” he was quoted by the official website of the county.

In June 2013, Capel was appointed as the assistant coach of the England women’s team. Capel hasn’t done much harm to his reputation as the team has done well retaining the Ashes 2013-14 with the ICC World T20 2014 campaign ahead of them.

(Abhijit Banare is a reporter at CricketCountry. He is an avid quizzer and loves to analyse and dig out interesting facts which allows him to learn something new every day. Apart from cricket he also likes to keep a sharp eye on Indian politics, and can be followed on Twitter and blog)

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