‘I’d have committed suicide before taking bribe’ – Kapil Dev after Manoj Prabhakar levied match-fixing charges against him in 1997
Kapil Dev still holds the record for the most wickets- 434- taken by an Indian pacer.
Updated - Mar 17, 2020 5:46 pm
Former all-rounder and World Cup-winning captain Kapil Dev came as a breath of fresh air in Indian cricket. When the ‘Haryana Hurricane’ burst onto the scene, three things dominated Indian cricket- players from metropolis centres like Mumbai, Delhi, run-scoring machines like Sunil Gavaskar and the legendary quartet of spinners-led by Bishan Singh Bedi.
Kapil’s arrival in 1978 changed all that. His success as a fast bowler gave wings to the aspirations of the upcoming generations of Indian cricketers to take up pace bowling, and the result is for everyone to see. Currently, India boasts of one of the best fast bowling attacks in the world. From Kapil Dev to Javagal Srinath to Zaheer Khan, Irfan Pathan, Sreesanth, Ashish Nehra, to the current lot, the Indian fast bowling has grown by leaps and bounds, and the 1983 World Cup-winning captain has played a huge role in the renaissance.
Kapil Dev still holds the record for the most Test wickets- 434- taken by an Indian pacer. The Indian all-rounder achieved the feat in 1994 against Sri Lanka, post which he drew curtains on his storied 16-year-old career. Dev was made the Head Coach of India, shortly after his retirement, and it was during this time that he encountered one of his worst days in public life.
It all happened in 1997 when Kapil’s former teammate and fellow swing bowler Manoj Prabhakar, in an interview to a magazine called Tehelka, alleged that Dev had offered him a bribe (Rs 2.5 million) in exchange for underperforming during a 1994 Singer Cup One-day International tournament in Colombo.
When Kapil Dev broke down following Manoj Prabhakar’s fixing claims
Prabhakar’s comments caused a furore in the country. Fan, media, former cricketers, frankly no one could believe what they’d heard from Prabhakar. Kapil Dev, himself was taken aback by the accusations and proceeded to step down as the coach before holding a press conference where he broke down while accusing Prabhakar of ruining his reputation.
Kapil also appeared in an interview with journalist Karan Thapar where he said “I’d have committed suicide before taking bribes. Take all my money, I don’t want it. I come from a family where respect comes first,” said the 61-year-old.
Kapil was eventually acquitted of all the charges laid by Prabhakar following a detailed investigation by the CBI. Interestingly, the match-fixing scandal broke three years after Prabhakar’s sensational claims when Delhi Police intercepted the recordings of a conversation between South African captain Hansie Cronje and a bookie.
The South African cricket board later set-up Kings Commission, where Cronje- after initially denying the claims- finally accepted the charges levied against him. Cronje revealed the names of a lot of cricketers from other countries who were involved in the whole fixing saga, and ironically Prabhakar’s name was one of them.