He holds the golf club with elan and drives the ball with such vigour that he has qualified to play for a prestigious tournament in China, but Kapil Dev says he is a “cricketer at heart” and his first love will always be “the game that has been my bread and butter”.

The legendary cricketer is all smiles after qualifying for the Asia-Pacific Senior Amateur Championship golf tournament in China, but at the same time points out the importance of cricket in his life.

“I like golf and play this game only for the enjoyment. I am a cricketer by heart and my first love will always be the game that has been my bread and butter,” the iconic cricketer told thestatesman.com in an exclusive interview.

The 56-year-old star finished fifth at the IGU All India Senior Golf Championship and having earned a place in the top six, he qualified to play the October tournament in China.

"I am happy to be part of the team to tour China for the Asia-Pacific Senior Amateur Championship. But I am not satisfied with my performance, I could have done much better,” he said.

Kapil Dev was the first Indian captain to lift the World Cup for India in 1983. After retiring from cricket in 1994, the former captain has been regularly playing amateur golf.

When asked about to analyse the current crop of Indian cricketers and Test captain Virat Kohli&’s strategy to continue with five bowlers in Tests, Kapil said, “The youngsters have been doing well and I am really happy with the performance of the Indian team in Sri Lanka. Regarding the five-bowler strategy, let&’s wait for two years and I am waiting to see whether his words will be the same or not.

“My point is that one should not be adamant about his tactics, they keep on changing with the team&’s priorities and the kind of players the captain has in the squad,” said the premier fast bowler of yesteryears.

He says we must not forget that the team does not have a formal coach and former cricketer Ravi Shastri, who is the director of the team, has been holding dual responsibility.

One of the greatest all-rounders of all time, Kapil is of the opinion that at this level more than a coach, a team requires a manager.

“It&’s good that the team is doing well with Shastri as their leader. I feel at this level the role of a manager is more important than that of a coach, who can focus on the team&’s unity,” he said.

“I feel we should support the captain, coach and the players, whatever the circumstances are. Every player goes on the field to deliver and give his 100 per cent and we are no one to discourage or criticise them.”

Kapil chose not to answer questions on Virat&’s captaincy, but he thinks that India will do well against South Africa in the series starting from October 2.

“Let them come and we will talk about the Proteas, but I feel we have a good team to tackle their fast bowlers,” he said.

Asked about resumption of cricketing ties between India and Pakistan, the legend said, ”I think we should leave it to the two governments to decide.”

Apart from cricket, Kapil is happy to see other sports getting recognition and the players also doing well.

“I am really impressed with Saina Nehwal, Sania Mirza and Leander Paes, they are doing tremendously well in their respective fields and credit should be given to them for helping the sports culture grow in the country.”