Kapil Dev says his coach Desh Prem Azad taught him to be honest on the field

Kapil Dev (above) acknowledged that Desh Prem Azad instilled the never-say-die attitude in him Getty Images

Aug 17, 2013

Former India skipper and legendary all-rounder Kapil Dev acknowledged the effort of his coach Desh Prem Azad taught him to be honest on the field and said that he was responsible for teaching him the value of discipline at an early age and instilling the never-say-die attitude.

“Without Desh Prem Azad, there would have been no Kapil Dev. He made me what I am. I am feeling really, really bad after hearing about the news of his death,” Kapil was quoted as saying by the Times of India.

“I would say he taught me the value of discipline. He would say, “You have to be honest on the field.” There were no shortcuts with him, and he made me realize there would be no shortcut to success,” he added.

“He was my Guru. I have lost my Guru. More than that, he was also a great friend of mine,” said Kapil, who struggled to keep his tears under control after Azad was cremated here in the presence of a large gathering of sportspersons and administrators.

“I owe him a lot for whatever I have achieved in my life as a cricketer,” Kapil told reporters.

He said that it was very difficult to put the loss in words.

“I can’t explain in words, it is very difficult. He made a great contribution to the sport and a number of cricketers owe a lot to him. He was a friend to me,” said Kapil.

“We all have to carry forward what he has left behind,” he added.

Azad passed away on Friday at the age of 75.

Kapil recounted the days when his coach egged him on during his growing up years.

“When I look back on my earliest days trying to make it as a bowler, and the way my coach kept egging me on…those were beautiful times. He was humble and stressed on the need for humility but he was very, very strict. More than technical coaching, he instilled this never-say-die attitude in me which I think was his single biggest gift,” he said.

Besides Kapil,  another Azad’s student and former India cricketer Chetan Sharma, also recalled the contribution of the coach to his career.

“I was just seven years when I came to him. He used to take me on his scooter and then I used to train for hours under his guidance,” Chetan said.

Chetan also recalled Azad’s advice after he was hit for a last-ball six in an ODI match versus Pakistan over 27 years ago.

“After that match against Pakistan, I played in the series against England. Azad Sir was with me on that tour.

Being hit for a six was still lurking in my mind and in the first Test (against England), I was not getting wickets. Azad Sir told Kapil paaji (brother) to ask me to bowl from the far end instead of the pavillion end, which bore fruit and I got five wickets,” Sharma recollected.

“It is a huge setback to me. I pray that his soul may rest in peace”.

(with inputs from PTI)