India news November 3, 2010

Kumble keen to take Karnataka to the top

Anil Kumble, the former India captain, has stressed on the importance of retired players getting involved in the administration of the game and has pledged his time and commitment to improving cricket in Karnataka. Kumble was speaking at the Karnataka State Cricket Association's office in Bangalore, where he formally announced his decision to stand for the post of association president in the elections on November 21.

Former India fast bowler Javagal Srinath, who was also present, will contest the secretary's post held for the past 12 years by former Indian batsman Brijesh Patel. The third member of that bowling attack from the 1990s, Venkatesh Prasad, will stand for a vice-president's post. Their effort is being backed by Patel, who said cricketers were "the right people to take any association forward."

One of the first decisions of Patel's administration in 1998 was to give cricketers membership in the association, and Kumble said Karnataka had led the way in this regard. "I retired two years ago and was keen to get involved in the association," he said. "I thought this was the best time for the cricketers of our generation to get involved.

"We'd like to put our vision in place and ensure Karnataka cricket really grows. We hope that Karnataka, as a team, goes on to be No. 1 in India, and that many more Karnataka players go on to represent the country.

"There's a lot to be done at the grassroots - from structuring schools cricket, club cricket and reaching out to all parts of Karnataka. That will be the challenge. We'd like to ensure that the paying public, who come and watch the game, have a wonderful time watching any form of cricket. We thought this was the right time to get into the KSCA."

When asked whether they would have enough time to take on these significant responsibilities, given that Kumble is also chairman of the National Cricket Academy and Srinath an ICC match referee, Kumble said he wouldn't have contemplated standing for elections if he wasn't committed.

"If I didn't have the time, I wouldn't be sitting here," he said. "The priority is cricket, whether it is the NCA, the KSCA - they are on the same campus. It's been a big decision but I've taken that decision for the good of cricket."

Rahul Dravid, who is still playing Tests for India, will not stand in the elections but Kumble said he would be part of the administration committee because of his association with Bangalore United Cricket Club (BUCC). "To get into mainstream cricket administration, you have to retire. Rahul is still playing for the Indian team. I'm hopeful he will come in and play an important role in being part of the committee, from the BUCC."

Kumble's electoral opponent is likely to be the incumbent president, Srikantadatta Narasimharaja Wadiyar, if he chooses to stand for re-election. Kumble, though, refused to label the polls a contest between cricketers and others. "This is not a political system," he said. "The 24 members are there to support and improve Karnataka cricket. It's not that cricketers are on one side and the others are on the other side. There are no groups. It's about ensuring Karnataka cricket grows. If that is focus of everyone, then I don't think there's a problem in working together."

George Binoy is an assistant editor at Cricinfo