I studied in the DAV School in Chandigarh throughout. I wasn’t much into studies though. I was not meant to be a copybook student. I was a boy who always wanted to play.
Love for sports and games
Chandigarh is known for games and sports. I also played many games — volleyball, basketball and football. I was into athletics as well. It’s difficult to recollect how it all began. I must have first played in one of those sector matches. And I loved it.
Early cricketing career
When I was in class IX I was selected to play for the Cooch Behar Trophy, in 1972 or so. I was barely 13. I had always been the quintessential bowler. We played against Delhi and Punjab. Then I was picked for the northern zone (school cricket) and I went to Calcutta; that was my first long trip. I stayed in a small hotel there — Broadway. That year the team (school boys’ team) was going to England. Bharat Reddy was the captain. They called me for the trial, but I wasn’t picked. I was, perhaps, too young then.
I feel that all those things I did then were the right things to do. I became a captain at the age of 22, and it’s too young an age for anybody to become a captain. I think the tour of West Indies immediately before the World Cup did the trick for us. We beat West Indies for the first time (in one-dayers). We were confident of doing well, but not to the extent of winning the World Cup. In the first match (World Cup’83) we beat England at Old Trafford. That changed the way we thought. Halfway through the tournament the boys, including myself, felt — Yes, we can win the tournament.
I can be proud and happy, touchwood, that I am not dependent on the cricket control board. Just do your work, concentrate on your business and success will follow. Outside cricket, becoming an (honorary) Lieutenant Colonel in the army, a year back, was indeed a high point. I just love the Army. And you need not be a Kapil Dev to enter it. But what touched me the most is when they (Wisden) adjudged me the (Indian) cricketer of the century. It happened when I had stopped playing the game. It was such an honour.
Highs as a human being
I have a charity called Khushi. We feed almost 4000 children every day. It all began some six years ago. I am very happy with the way things are moving. We empower young minds, provide them food, education, jobs.
Appetite for success
The only thing that I can say is that it’s important that you give 200 per cent to whatever it is that you do. There has to be discipline and dedication.
To be successful
More than anything else you have to be disciplined. If you are supposed to go for practice at 5 am, the alarm should hum before that and you should be up and ready. It’s the same with studies. You have to be passionate about all that you want to do. If you have a dream, stick to it, no matter what. You will get what you want!