Pataudi Memorial Lecture 2013 November 13, 2013

Wear power lightly, Kumble asks BCCI


Anil Kumble, the former India captain, has called on the BCCI to use its position as the dominant power in world cricket to "demonstrate leadership with responsibility" and develop a more consensual approach in its international relations. In a rare, though carefully couched, critique of the Indian board's often overbearing tactics, he asked its administrators to "wear power lightly" and used history to illustrate how powerful empires crumble.

Kumble was delivering the MAK Pataudi Memorial Lecture - hosted by the BCCI - in Mumbai on Wednesday evening to a select gathering of guests that included the Indian and West Indies teams, BCCI president N Srinivasan and his WICB counterpart Dave Cameron along with former India captains Nari Contractor, Bishan Bedi, Sunil Gavaskar, Dilip Vengsarkar and Mohammad Azharuddin.

In the 15-odd years since Jagmohan Dalmiya took over as the ICC president, India has emerged as a dominant player in board politics solely because of the income it has generated for cricket's governing body. Recently, under Srinivasan, the feeling among other nations is that India has used its clout to enforce its line across world cricket.

Kumble's speech acknowledged those criticisms. "Initially, it seemed to be all about making money and telling everybody who was boss. As often happens, those who were out of power tended to imitate the actions of those who were in power earlier, and that did not serve the game well."

Things have changed, he said, and India needed to recognize and adapt to those changes. "There has been a shift in the balance of power. It is extremely important that we wear our power lightly and make contributions that are worthy of emulation, because, cricket has to be above every other consideration… It is ironic that the rest of the cricketing world has accepted India's lead role rather more easily and with greater pragmatism than India have.

"Notwithstanding the position of pre-eminence we enjoy both on and off the field, it is extremely important for us to demonstrate leadership with responsibility," he said. "Traditionally, our leadership style has relied less on belligerence and more on driving consensus. It is important that the development of cricket and its popularity among its member nations are protected and nurtured."

In private, Indian administrators have expressed the opinion that since countries like England and Australia had wielded power in an autocratic fashion in the past, now it was their turn have a taste of their own medicine. However, Kumble said administrators need to keep in mind that cricket was bigger than selfish interests.

"Power can be a heady thing, but with power comes responsibility. We must prepare to adapt to the change, embrace it and respond to it in the manner that serves the game best," Kumble said.

"History has shown that it is in their periods of overwhelming superiority that nations sow the seeds of their fall from grace. It was true of the Roman Empire; it was true of the British Empire. The analogy can be extended to cricket. As the most significant and influential cricketing country, we must guard against repeating historical mistakes."

Kumble, currently the head of the ICC's cricket committee, also asked the administrators to think laterally to make the three formats of the game viable and attractive. His own contribution was to propose three distinct seasons for each of Test, ODI and Twenty20 cricket - culminating in a calendar just like that in tennis.

"Three different seasons for the game to accommodate the three different formats is easily conceivable. Specific seasons for specific formats will facilitate better planning for a longer term cricket calendar, provide clarity for spectators and allow players to prepare for the different physical and mental demands of each format.

"A good analogy would be the tennis season which moves in a logical manner from surface to surface: hard-court, clay, grass, indoors."

Kumble, who retired in 2008, currently enjoys a reputation as a mentor - a role he has been formally entrusted with by Mumbai Indians - and he dwelt at length on the gaps in player development in India. "Cricketers are trained only to provide expression to their talent. Suddenly thrust into the limelight, they find themselves lacking in the skills to handle fame and fortune. We need both education and mentoring here."

Pointing out how corporate houses train new recruits especially for overseas assignments, he said every aspiring cricketer should be given the training to meet the demands that go with being a professional. "Cricketers today have a lifestyle, but do they have a life?"

Kumble also spoke about the "insecurities and handicaps" players are faced with, a part of the Indian cricket story that rarely finds mention. "In recent years, many top international players have gone through phases of depression. Often the problem is either detected late or simply hidden away in embarrassment. The few players who have spoken about their own problems have provided a glimpse into a world few of us understand and even fewer acknowledge exists. Yet there are responses to stress that could be addressed through proper counseling.

"Victims of poor selection, improper injury management, even a poor run of scores need to have the opportunity to speak to those trained in handling such issues, which get blown up since top sportsmen tend to live in a fish-bowl atmosphere."

Nagraj Gollapudi is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Android on November 18, 2013, 23:12 GMT

    Anil Kumble for ICC and Rahil Dravid for BCCI President!

  • Dummy4 on November 14, 2013, 14:08 GMT

    Hat off to Kumble for having courage to call a spade a spade.

    But I can be certain of one thing.that this will not change a bit, those who run BCCI or the way they run it.

    One fine day game of Cricket will be the winner, when people like Dravid, Kumble become care takers! I wish that day arrives sooner than later!

  • parvesh on November 14, 2013, 8:30 GMT

    well said kumble. Its nice to hear from birmingham that indian cricket board is at the top. What indian cricket needs and wot it is crying out for is 2 home series and 2 away series. Fans at home in india need to know who is going to play in india at least 6 months before they arrive. Fans will get the chance to prepare for a series long before they arrive. Thats the only thing i like about english cricket. We know who is coming nearly a year before they come. You can fit the ipl and the champions league in 1 year. Kumble do wot u hav to and then get dravid, tendulkar. Laxman and ganguly and take over at the bcci. You can easily make alot of money and look after indian cricket. Otherwise indian cricket will be played in half empty stadiums for the next year nov 2014. And by the way can any indian cricket fan tell me who is coming to india next oct and wot day.

  • sam on November 14, 2013, 8:13 GMT

    @borninthetimeofSRT- Can't agree with most of what you posted , except regarding the 'super League' ,a.k.a IPL which and t20 are future of cricket with tests almost in wane among all teams - well, except Aus,Eng and maybe 1 or 2 other 'top' teams its practically gone in case of others. IPL is by far the best league and its appeal among the int. players and success is testament. As to 'transitioned Ind smoothly', there is no sign of it as only after the SA tour can you judge the team ,not on basis of their showing vs poor teams at home . Not only SA ,you got series O/S vs NZ and Eng too coming up . Except maybe NZ , it's going to be a hard task for this team to compete ,let alone win vs the other 2. At best they can hope to reduce margin of defeat and better their showing from the last tours.I am not even going to sayi about the stubborn stance against the DRS . If you look at it all the rest 7-8 teams support the system ,except BCCI. Says it all ,iI think.

  • Alex on November 14, 2013, 8:03 GMT

    Kumble ( plotter) has brain. But leadership is another thing. Ganguly would be fit to run BCCI. He can play politics well. Dravid (idealist) can not. BCCI is run by politicians and their goal is make money for the house. Problem is with current attitude , CA, ENG, CSA join forces...they can close down BCCI. At present BCCI keeping CA satisfied so no revolt against BCCI yet.

  • Aditya on November 14, 2013, 7:27 GMT

    A short while ago it was Dravid and now Kumble lambasting the current stage of affairs prevalent in the rampaging BCCI. These gentlemen belong to the highest echelons of gamesmanship along with their famous peers, Ganguly, Tendulkar, and Laxman to name a few. They should represent BCCI rather than the current crop of good for nothing bureaucrats. Only then we have some hope of staying at the top!

  • Dummy4 on November 14, 2013, 7:03 GMT

    Well said Mr.BULTY and Mr.borninthetimeofSRT ... I think Mr.kumble forgot the past under Mr.malcolm speed and how he ran ICC .. BCCI and Mr.N. Srinivasan are safe and look at the team now.. only pure talents can get into the more recommendations / favoritism ..

  • Naveed on November 14, 2013, 6:22 GMT

    Truly a great speech from Kumble....hope these guys who are running behind power/money will change their attitude and do something good for the development of cricket. Wish such persons like Kumble, Dravid, Tendulkar and others get a chance to run the BCCI.

  • Suhas on November 14, 2013, 6:07 GMT

    @ RV_Raman . Sir, Anil is at that time KSCA President. And Recently Javagal Srinath told that he and his team made friendship with BCCI because to host International matches and other domestic in Bangalore and they got many matches like ODI againt Aussies, T20 Against Pak last year and many matches against Newzeland and West Indias A team. For that purpose only they made pact with BCCI. If he is not supported Srinivasan, Srinivasan will be win by other supporters. And Kumble and his team will loose confident of BCCI. Also think why Wankede not hosted CLT20 matches? Now Kumble and his team not contesting in KSCA Election. He is Free Bird.

  • Dummy4 on November 14, 2013, 5:48 GMT

    How I wish guys like Anil, Dravid, Dada and now Sachin actually run the cricket in India