‘One company cannot have two CEOs’, said former India skipper Kapil Dev on Friday, making his stance clear on the raging debate over whether the national cricket team should go for split captaincy.

Ever since Rohit Sharma guided Mumbai Indians to a fifth IPL title, a debate on split captaincy has gathered momentum with several former players suggesting that the opener be handed the leadership of at least the T20 side. Virat Kohli currently leads India in all three formats.

“In our culture, it is not going to happen that way. In one company you make two CEOs? No. If Kohli is going to play T20s and he is good enough, let him be there [as a captain]. Even though I would like to see other people coming out. But it’s difficult,” said Kapil at the HT Leadership Summit which was held virtually.

“Our 70-80% of the team across formats is same team. They don’t like captains having different theories. It may bring more differences between the players who look up to the captain. If you have two captains, players might think ‘he is going to be my captain in Tests. I will not annoy him’. If only player is good enough to play all formats, then let him be there.”

“But I am happy that, if Virat is missing matches, we have options to take over,” the legendary captain said.

The 61-year-old, who is on the mend after he recently underwent an angioplasty, said that IPL currently is what county cricket was to his generation but added that he wanted Test cricket to remain a priority.

“Yes, cricket has changed. People around the world only want to play IPL, BBL and tournaments like that. I would say IPL has given us strength. What used to be county cricket, every player used to want to play there (in England) but today IPL is giving the same benefit to us as the best players in the world are coming and playing along with young cricketers. The next generation is ready.”

The battery of pacers that India possesses now pleases Kapil immensely.

“I read somewhere that Lara said he (would) rather prefer to face Kapil Dev, Javagal Srinath but not [Jasprit] Bumrah. Our fast bowlers are brilliant.

“Look at Shami, Bumrah. As a cricketer, it gives me a lot of happiness to say that today we depend on our fast bowlers. Our bowlers are capable of taking 20 wickets in a match. We’ve had spinners like Kumble, Harbhajan, but today no country would like to say ‘give [India] bouncy wickets’.”

Talking about the art of fast bowling, the 1983 World Cup-winning former skipper said fast bowlers opting for too many variations saddens him.

“I still am not happy with fast bowlers (these days). The first ball cannot be cross seam. Players in IPL realised that swing is more important than pace. Sandeep (Sharma), who bowled 120-125 kph, was difficult to handle because he was moving the ball,” he explained.

“Bowlers have to understand it’s not [just] the pace, it’s the swing. They should learn but are running away from art. That’s why I say T Natarajan was my hero of IPL. Young boy was fearless and bowling so many yorkers,” the legendary all-rounder said referring to the two Sunrisers Hyderabad pacers.

Kapil feels variations are a waste if one doesn’t know how to swing the ball.

“Keep your wrist straight, hold the ball seam-up. Whenever the ball moves Tests matches become important. Wasim, Botham, Willis, Hadlee. McGrath, look how good they were.

“The art of swing bowling should come back. Learning the knuckle ball and all is fine. If you don’t know how to swing the ball, everything is a waste,” said the great all-rounder.

He also appealed to the ICC to ensure Test cricket doesn’t die in the age of T20 cricket and added that whoever wins the upcoming India-Australia series, the team should go on to the win the World Test Championship.

About women’s cricket, Kapil said that in the last 15 years, the scale has come from one to seven for Indian players.

Speaking about India captain Kohli coming back home after the first of four Test matches in Australia to be present for the birth of his first child, Kapil said that he is “happy and proud” that a modern-day cricketer can afford such a scenario.

Watch the interview here:

Starts from the 8-minute mark

(With PTI inputs)