“You can’t drop such a great player. We let him play the Test series against Sri Lanka and he broke the world record (because he was the highest wicket taker) in the Ahmedabad Test. We thought he would announce his retirement after the breaking the world record, but that evening, during the press conference, he said that he will play for two more years.
“The next day, an apparently harassed Vishy (chief selector Gundappa Viswanth) told me, ‘See the headlines in the papers. Kapil says he will play for 2 more years,'” Gaekwad recalled, before expanding on the incident.
“That same evening there was a meeting of the selection committee. (Jagmohan) Dalmiya was the BCCI secretary. So we sat down and decided it was time for Kapil to retire (international cricket). I suggested to Dalmiya that Vishy, as chairman and senior of the selection committee, speak to him. That also makes it easier. Vishy insisted, however. that I would accompany him.
“During tea time, we approached Kapil in the dressing room. Now knowing that Vishy was a shy man and didn’t want to get into controversy. He was not an outspoken man, who would tell you you were doing something wrong on your face. He would be around and going around talking to someone. So I took the initiative.”
Gaekwad was frank in his conversation with Kapil.
‘I said to Kapil, ‘Kaps, we need to talk to you.’ I said to him, ‘The voters think you should stop now, and you know it. We’ll give you a farewell game of your choice, but now you have to stop. Kapil responded very nicely. He said, ‘Thank you very much. I really appreciate what you’ve told me.’ You have to do things like this sometimes, which I did,” the 69-year-old revealed.
Gaekwad spoke at a meeting of Ageas Federal Life Insurance where he and former India pacer Umesh Kulkarni were congratulated on Saturday evening by ex-Indian skipper Dilip Vengsarkar and ex-Indian navigator Karsan Ghavri at Lokmanya Seva Sangh, in Vileparle. Both were gifted checks worth Rs 50,000 each. The feature was moderated by veteran journalist Dwarkanath Sanzgiri.
dodgy phone call
Gaekwad also recalled the time as coach of the Indian team just before the final of the Nidahas Cup in Sri Lanka in July 1998 when he dealt with a match fixing threat from a bookmaker.
“At 22.30 in the night I got a call in my room. The caller said, “You’ll lose the game tomorrow.” When I asked the caller for his identity, he said he was from Mumbai. “Don’t worry about my name. Everything is set,” he said. Just to have some ‘fun’, I said, ‘Come on over, we’ll make the game even better!’
Of course, Gaekwad informed the older players for his side about that ‘unreliable’ phone call from the night before.
“The next day, at the team meeting, I discussed that call with the seniors in the team, skipper Mohammed Azharuddin, Sachin Tendulkar and Sourav Ganguly. ‘Why are you thinking about all these things. We win this final. Listen or don’t believe all this,” Azhar told me.
“I said to the players, ‘It could also be a hoax call. We don’t have to believe it, but we have to be careful. We took our own precautions and I was very careful,’ he revealed.
In the end, India defeated Sri Lanka by six runs to win the tournament.