“Believe me, I didn’t know what this award was all about. I was far away from cricket for some time. Then, I made some enquiries and I was told that many great cricketers have received this award.

Last year, Sunil Gavaskar got it and Ajit Wadekar and Mohinder Amarnath were honoured in previous years. Rewards always provide pleasure. I am happy, and since this recognition comes from your own Board, the happiness is doubled.

I must thank them,” said Kapil, whose busy schedule yesterday prevented him from responding instantly to phone calls and text messages from friends and former India teammates.

“I was busy in a very important meeting. I was informed about this honour by a friend and later, a BCCI official spoke to me,” he added. It is learnt that batting legend Sunil Gavaskar called and text messaged him from SA to offer his congratulations.