Kapil Dev: The cricket legend who’s turned to golf

05:56 - Source: CNN
Kapil Dev: From India cricket hero to golfer

Editor’s Note: This month’s Living Golf sees Shane O’Donoghue travel to India. Watch March’s episode here.

CNN  — 

Few countries around the world embrace a sport like India embraces cricket.

Like many other sports, golf has struggled to emerge from under cricket’s shadow – although there are many similarities between the two sports.

The British Raj introduced both during its rule over India from 1858 to 1947. There’s the cadence to compare, the time between shots being hit; and also the hand-eye coordination between bat, or club, and ball.

Few know more about the parallels between both sports than cricketing legend Kapil Dev, who is the only player in history to have taken more than 400 wickets and scored over 5,000 test runs.

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Now, 59-years-old and a single figure handicap golfer, Dev has represented India in a number of senior amateur golf tournaments.

During a recent round with CNN Living Golf’s Shane O’Donoghue at Delhi Golf Club, Kapil compared his two sporting passions.

”When you play cricket you’re always depending on somebody. In golf it’s up to you,” he told CNN.

“You can feel proud about the shot you play, you play a bad shot you really can’t criticize anybody.

”I feel happy to have represented two sports for my country. When I was 12 I didn’t realize the importance of playing cricket for India. Then I picked up golf at the age of 37 and then you represent your country again it feels great.”

In 1983, Kapil captained India to an historic World Cup victory over the West Indies, taking the popularity of cricket in his country to an even higher level.

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Dev knows that golf faces an uphill task to ever compete with India’s most beloved sport.

”It’s very difficult because golf needs land, almost a minimum of 150 acres of land to play,” he explains.

”With cricket you can play in the backyard, you can play in the streets, you can play anywhere. But I have noticed a difference.

“Now if you want to play on Saturday or Sunday at Delhi Golf Club you have to book a week in advance. That’s the change in the game of golf. If more youngsters start playing golf in India the game could be huge.”

Dev has also noticed how more young Indians now view sport as a possible profession compared to when he was growing up.

”When I was a kid I don’t think any parents would encourage their children to go out and play,” he said.

“They said to go and study, there was no time for sports” he says. ”But today parents say if you’re not good in school go and become something, play sports, play any sports.

“The exposure of sport is so good and the money is so good that the parents think, if their children can make a life through sports, then why not? This change has only happened in the last 15 years.”

With Kapil inspiring the next generation both as a cricketing legend and as a senior golfer, expect both sports to continue to flourish in India.