Kapil Dev’s coach and the tutor to many Indian internations, Desh Prem Azad, suffered a brief cardiac illness and died in hospital in Mohali on Friday. The news of the 75-year-old’s passing has led Kapil Dev and Chetan Sharma to pay tribute.
His funeral will be held in Chandigarh on Saturday.
by BIPIN DANI
Azad, who played 19 first-class matches and latterly was the director at the Punjab Cricket Association’s non-residential academies, coached Kapil Dev, Chetan Sharma, Yograj Singh and Ashok Malhotra.
Sharma said, “Kapil Dev is reaching there tomorrow morning and I am on my way from Delhi. Whatever I am today, is due to him only.”
“In 1986, he came to England to see me play at Lord’s,” he added. “I was bowling down the hill but was not able to grab wickets. I sought his advice while fielding at 3rd man.”
“You will succeed if you bowl from the other end, he told me, so I requested skipped Kapil Dev to allow me to bowl up the hill and immediately got success. I got three wickets in three overs and I ended up the day with five. He knew finer points of the game very well.”
Kapil Dev, said, “He was a disciplinarian. I still remember, I was 20 minutes late for a practice session and he did not allow me to enter the nets for the next three days. He taught us discipline first and then other things. Discipline was a very crucial factor in being successful.”
“Azad was happy when we first won the World Cup in 1983, but, I guess, he was happier when I made my debut,” Kapil added. “He was a good cricketer himself. I learnt the basics and finer points of the game from him.”
Azad leaves two sons, Sanjeev and Manish Agarwal, who both played Ranji Trophy cricket for Punjab, and a wife, Surinder Kaur.
He has toured UAE, Sri Lanka, Morocco and Malaysia, to name a few, and contributes to a large number of newspapers in India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh.
His twitter bio reads: Eat cricket stories, drink cricket stories, sleep cricket stories.