He was deservedly voted the Wisden Indian Cricketer of the Century ahead of Sunil Gavaskar and Sachin Tendulkar. After all, there can be only one Kapil Dev.
Will there be another cricketer to score 5000 runs and take 400 wickets in Tests? Despite the proliferation of matches, this is one double that has been out of reach for the greatest of all rounders and this stupendously unique feat is enough to place Kapil on a pedestal all by himself.
Kapil took the last of his 434 wickets in the Test match against New Zealand at Hamilton in March 1994 and of course that was the world record at the time.
These days, with bowlers taking over 700 wickets - allbeit playing more Tests - the figure 400 may seem insignificant.
Nothing could be farther from the truth.
For any Indian bowler to hold the world record was a notable achievement, but for an Indian opening bowler to do so was quite unthinkable.
As one who grew up in the sixties when the Indian new-ball attack was a farce, I could never imagine that one day an Indian fast bowler would head the list of wicket takers in Test matches.
Let cricket fans hail Gavaskar and Tendulkar as the greatest Indian cricketers of all time.
Kapil will always get my vote.
I have always believed that while it is possible that Indian cricket can produce another Gavaskar or Tendulkar, it will never produce another Kapil Dev.
It's not just a matter of scoring over 5000 runs and taking more than 400 wickets, though, of course, this all-round record is of the mind-boggling and eye-rubbing variety.
More importantly, he has proved to be the inspiration for a whole generation of young fast bowlers.
How pathetic was the Indian fast bowling scenario before Kapil and what a metamorphosis has been seen in the last couple of decades?
An Indian team that was struggling with one Ramakant Desai or one Rusi Surti and had Ajit Wadekar, Salim Durrani, ML Jaisimha, V Subramanyam, Budhi Kunderan and Gavaskar opening the bowling now has half a dozen contenders vying for two places.
Indian pace bowlers are almost as feared as the spinners.
They have won matches on their own and troubled the best of batsmen at home and abroad.
Ten-wicket hauls which were the prerogatives of spin bowlers have been notched up by pacemen with Javagal Srinath taking as many 13 wickets in a match.
Zaheer Khan is today recognised as the leading exponent of seam and swing bowling in the world.
All this can be traced to the emergence of Kapil who made his Test debut as a 19-year-old in Pakistan in 1978 and over the years transformed Indian cricket into a world power with his amazing ubiquitous skills, his dynamic leadership qualities and his charismatic personality.
If Gavaskar was the pioneer in proving that fast bowlers could be faced squarely and even scored off fluently, it was Kapil who proved that the Indian new-ball attack was one to be respected and even feared.
It was Kapil who proved that a cricketer could score 5000 runs and take 400 wickets.
It was Kapil who proved that limited-overs cricket was not alien to the Indians.
With each passing tournament, the glow associated with the 1983 World Cup triumph shaped largely by Kapilé³ leadership qualities and all-round skills glows brighter.
Again it was this shock victory that gave the impetus to the one-day game in India and the team since then has registered numerous significant triumphs.
One can really go on and on about Kapil Dev, singing his praises in never-ending vein.
What Indian cricket and so many players owe him is immeasurable.
He always had only the good of the game and the cricketers at heart.
Has India produced a more dedicated, selfless and fitter cricketer, I wonder.
I venture to predict that he will get the Indian Cricketer of the Century award in 2032 when India completes 100 years of Test cricket.
Image: One of cricket's most famous images - a gloriously athletic Kapil at the point of release.
Text: Partab Ramchand | Getty Images (Any unauthorised reproduction is strictly prohibited)