Anil Kumble February 14, 2008

'Cricket should talk'

India's captain has always been an old-school player, firm in the belief that actions speak louder than words. How does he deal with a side where, increasingly, the players feel the need to wear their attitude on their sleeves?
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"Some days you win and some days you lose. But at the same time, if you have really fought hard and lost the game, then you don't really feel that bad about it" © Getty Images
 

The compulsion to provide sound bytes is so overwhelming that posturing has become a professional obligation for modern sportsmen. For cricket captains, it is almost a daily chore. But when I asked Anil Kumble a good three weeks after it was all over, if he really had believed India could win in Perth, he looked me in the eye and said without hesitation, "Yes, 100%. It [the belief] was there, and it was there even before we left for Australia."

Kumble doesn't mess about. It's obvious that these are words spoken with a conviction not granted by hindsight. The Sydney saga is too fresh to warrant retelling, but it would not have been a surprise if India had disintegrated after that. In fact, nothing else was expected. From that low to fashion a win at a venue where India had been expected to be blown away took, of course, an immense amount of skill; and an even greater amount of strength of mind. And no one supplied it in a greater measure than the captain.

Kumble has been a pillar of Indian cricket for close to two decades. But in that hour of darkness, he stood like a tower and a beacon. As always, he was strong. But even more importantly, as fires raged all around him, he stayed calm and alert. He spoke the right words, to his team-mates behind closed doors, and in public. Where Ricky Ponting appeared glib and confused in turns, Kumble came across as a senior statesman. The coup de grace came with this statement, delivered at the post-match press conference at Sydney: "Only one team was playing in the spirit of the game."

From someone else, it would have sounded melodramatic, perhaps, even cheesy; the force of Kumble's personality made it the defining word on the matter and shifted public opinion India's way. It would be fair to say that Kumble was one of the few people to have emerged from the sordid affair with his dignity intact.

Some saw the invocation of the iconic Bodyline quote as a calculated masterstroke designed to hit a raw nerve. But Kumble insists that it came at the spur of the moment. "I didn't go in there thinking I would say that," he says, "I was asked the question - 'Ricky Ponting said that both teams played in the spirit of the game, so what do you have to say to that?' And it just came out."

 
 
"Cricket should talk. I have always believed that, no matter what, cricket should talk. If we had not won the Perth Test and played the way we did in Adelaide, then it would have been a disaster"
 
Kumble claims he was only vaguely aware of something of the sort having been said during Bodyline, and he was certainly surprised by the response. "It was only pertaining to that particular game, and it was not meant in any other way. People probably went back in history."

****

We are sitting in the gazebo overlooking the swimming pool at the Karnataka State Cricket Association. To my shame, I have kept him waiting. But there is not a trace of annoyance. He greets me with a smile and a firm handshake. It's been four years since I interviewed him last - in his hotel room in Sydney on the penultimate day of the final Test of the 2003-04 series. He had then hinted that it could well be his last tour to Australia. But he has taken over 200 wickets since, and has gone on, against everyone's expectations, including perhaps his own, to lead India. It is a job he has performed so admirably that it has left everyone wondering why it came to him so late.

Kumble makes no bones about having wanted the captaincy. How important was getting the job? "Very important," he replies unhesitatingly. "It's the ultimate honour for a cricketer, and I always thought I had the qualities required to lead." Did it come too late? "It was not in my control," he says, betraying no bitterness. "And I always took it in my stride. I was dropped also, and I took that my stride too. I never questioned why I was dropped, but went back to working on getting my game better. I think when it finally came, it came at the right time to ensure that my career goes forward. It was great motivation for me, a big challenge."

Leading the most-followed cricket team in the world hasn't changed him as a person. "I have always tried to take a balanced view of things and tried never to go overboard with either success or failure." It's an outlook that has helped him stay controlled and focused on the job in hand. "I have always analysed things and taken the best step," he says, "whether it's my personal interest, or when I had to take a decision on behalf of the team."



'I have always tried to take a balanced view of things' © AFP
It was likely that Kumble would have remained the best man to never have captained India had Rahul Dravid, Kumble's predecessor and good friend, not relinquished the job abruptly. Though Dravid hasn't yet discussed his reasons, it was clear he was being weighed down by the off-field aspects of the job.

"We are passionate," Kumble says when I ask him about the lack of proportion from the fans and the media, "very passionate.

"I am someone who has always taken a very balanced view of whatever happens. You can't really control the emotions of a billion people. You just try and ensure that you try your best and put in your effort as sportsmen. Some days you win and some days you lose. But at the same time, if you have really fought hard and lost the game, then you don't really feel that bad about it."

But how easy is it to insulate yourself from what's being said about you? "You try and insulate yourself, otherwise it affects your own decision-making," he says and goes on to use the example of Sydney. "It was important for me to stick to what I felt at that time was right and try and keep to what I was thinking. At the same time, I wanted to keep all these non-cricketing issues out of the dressing room. Otherwise it starts affecting your performance on the field. So in that sense it was a bit tough. But the way the team rallied around was really amazing."

****

Kumble belongs to a generation of cricketers who didn't need to be ugly to show they were tough. Through his career he has been a warrior of a bowler, but barring a couple of exchanges of angry words with Inzamam-ul- Haq once (which were smoothed over with a friendly arm around the shoulder at close of play) and Mohammad Yousuf in the last series against Pakistan, Kumble has generally dealt in stony stares and a quick return to the bowling crease, ready to send the next ball hurrying down. For a big part of his career, he has had alongside him players like Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman, who haven't felt the need to talk the talk.

But Kumble now leads a team that also contains a breed of cricketers that believes in giving as good it gets and then some. But the other side of this coin is that some of these players - Harbhajan Singh and Sreesanth in particular - are walking targets for teams like Australia.

To begin with, Kumble is phlegmatic about the issue. "It's an individual thing,'' he says, "if the individual feels that it can bring the best out of him, it is fine." However, his personal view on the matter is clear. "It's okay if one person thinks it helps him. But if the whole team is doing it - I am not really sure, because that is definitely not an Indian way of playing."

"Cricket should talk," he emphasises. "I have always believed that, no matter what, cricket should talk. If we had not won the Perth Test and played the way we did in Adelaide, then it would have been a disaster.

 
 
Kumble belongs to a generation of cricketers who didn't need to be ugly to show they were tough. Through his career he has been a warrior of a bowler, but barring a couple of exchanges of angry words with Inzamam-ul- Haq once and Mohammad Yousuf in the last series against Pakistan, Kumble has generally dealt in stony stares and a quick return to the bowling crease
 
"At the end of the day you want to be remembered for the number of wickets and the number of good spells that you bowled, and not what you did when you got a wicket and not what you told the batsman when he got out. People understand that, and if they don't understand, then they understand it the hard way."

He provides an interesting perspective on what encourages on-field antics. "It's a lot to do with the media coverage of such things. I think if you start paying attention to non-cricketing things on the cricket field, then it will remain. The moment you back off and say that we don't care what you do on the field, it doesn't really matter to us whether you jump or whether you scream, at the end of the day we are going to discuss how much cricket you are playing and what performances you have had on the cricket field ... then it will tone down.

"I have never been aware or conscious about who is watching when I am playing cricket. I don't really care, and I hope and pray that everybody else also believes that. I never played my cricket thinking that there was a microphone on, or selectors watching, or there is somebody else in the press box watching - just go and play your cricket"

As a bowler, Anil Kumble has always belonged to a rare kind; alarmingly, his kind of cricketers are becoming even rarer.

Sambit Bal is the editor of Cricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • goodshepherd on February 15, 2008, 18:45 GMT

    We don't want to compare Rama with Ravana or associate every character traits of Rams's with Kumble or Mr Pointing to Ravana, emperor with admirable guts and will to win the war @ all cost/means.. even if it ment waking Kumbakarana. It's conceptually equivalent. Kumble would not have been discovered if the captain of the greatest team on earth had not picked on him. It's it, if the greatest captain/king of his time Ravana had not picked on Rama... At the end cricket/rule goes on..But it will be hard pressed for cricket to find another Kumble.

  • Unifex on February 15, 2008, 9:27 GMT

    Uppidan, I most certainly do recognise the great character it took to take the Indian team to victory in Perth. Kumble is a player I have admired for many years. This is why I was so disappointed when out of frustration with losing he accused his opponents of not playing within the spirit of the game when they had done no more or less than every Test team does. Cricketers appeal. Often they are unsure, sometimes they should know better, but no team is morally superior. The LBW I spoke of, which all the players could see, was as good or bad as the Dravid dismissal. Ponting claimed a grounded ball; Dhoni claimed one that bounced in England recently. There are no saints playing Test cricket, but either both are in or both are outside of its spirit. That's my point: If somebody claims they are playing within the game's spirit and their opponent isn't, they had better be squeaky clean. Nobody is, so such an accusation shouldn't be made - nor applauded and continued by journalists.

  • Soumyaditya on February 15, 2008, 7:29 GMT

    An interview that features Anil Kumble that will be anything but uninteresting. He is an honest cricketer and an even better person. He is the most sincere and grittiest warrior of Indian cricket. He will be always remembered for not only his contribution on the field but off it as well.

    Anil thank you for the wonderful moments and we hope you will keep on creating magic for years to come.

  • fairdinkum on February 15, 2008, 5:03 GMT

    Sambit ...you are welcome to praise Anil Kumble, but to slight Ricky Ponting in the process is not welcome..."glib and confused!!!.." and is typical of the journalistic barracking that has been seen from Indian correspondents. I put this to you: On the cricket field Ponting has gone after victory aggressively and succeeded to the point of his remarkable captaincy record for all to see (16 test victories in succession, etc). India, on the other hand had the whip in the Adelaide test in the final 2 days, and had the opportunity to chase victory. What happened was .... nothing. Anil refused to go for it and settled for a limp draw. In Sydney, Ponting took a remarkable gamble for victory by allowing only 2 sessions to dismiss India. What happened? India crumbled (don't blame the umpires)and Ponting belief in his team was justified. This was the point in the series that really mattered, not Perth. So let the cricket talk, not post game declarations of unfair play & threats to go home

  • masterblaster666 on February 15, 2008, 4:29 GMT

    To lindabaja: Agreed....people are not reading enough into Kumble's frank admission to Ravi Shastri after the last Test that his shoulder wasn't holding up well at all after such a gruelling tour. I have a feeling that despite his fitting the job of captaincy tremendously, he really isn't going to stick around longer than at the most a year, the home series against Aus later this year may well be his farewell tour, though I hope not. After him, who??? Piyush Chawla has been promising and it's about time he gets a regular bowl so he can take over the mantle. But it still won't be the same...one of the all-time great bowlers of Test cricket is gonna go without really getting the recognition he deserved.

  • JB77 on February 15, 2008, 3:10 GMT

    Kumble is the master of spin. Not the spin that helps you get wickets, however. Rather the spin that helps you deflect any responsibility for a loss from yourself or your players. I cannot believe that, in a test series where both teams displayed poor on-field behaviour, that Kumble somehow walks away as a shining becon of truth and justice while the whole Australian team are turned into pantomine villans. I simply cannot understand this inability of Indian fans and players to see the hypocrisy in the Indian team's behaviour. Any past wrongs can be conveniently glossed over, forgotten or justified with the old excuse "the Australians started it!". Please Kumble - get off your high horse. It's a long way to fall from up there.

  • fairdinkum on February 15, 2008, 2:17 GMT

    The greatest achievement of Anil Kumbli as leader was to start the fracas after the Sydney test, which made everyone back home forget that he led his team to the loss of the Border-Gavaskar trophy after 2 tests. He is destined for political life. I observed during the Perth test a notable lack of focus by the Australian batting team in the first innings, with batters consistently waiving at balls outside the line of stumps. I have seen this before, when they just lose a bit of intensity after winning the series. India bowled well and all that, but, really, the series was all over.

  • Kazza1 on February 15, 2008, 1:49 GMT

    masterblaster - if you want to go on about poor decisions then remember that Tendulkar and Laxman were both out plum LBW early in their first innings and both went on to make centuries! you go can on and on about bad decisons as long and as much as you like the fact is India lost 3 wickets in 5 balls to a part time bowler with minutes remaining to LOSE an unlosable test match and those wickets you can't blame on anybody bar the Indians and their poor cricket.

  • mallenfromoz on February 15, 2008, 0:41 GMT

    The interesting thing about Kumble's spirit of the game comment is that for all the hype it generated it was, exactly as he says, an off-hand comment that "just came out". If you watch the footage of the press conference (which was posted on cricinfo just after Sydney), Kumble is asked over and over again by journalists whether he felt Australia played in the spirit of the game. His comment probably does reflect how he felt at the time but it was forced out of him. He was trying to be more diplomatic. I would have been interested to know whether, in hindsight, he stands by his remark because from where I was sitting (in the members, all five days) it was a great cricket match only marred by some disapointing umpiring. Throughout the series both sides pushed the limits of acceptable behaviour in different ways and I wish the Match Referee had been firmer on this from the outset. But in saying that, what made this an enthralling series was precisely this intensity. Bring it on!

  • topoz on February 14, 2008, 23:10 GMT

    My concern about Kumble is that I don't think he is great from a tactical perspective. IMO too conservative/tentative to go for the result when things aren't going India's way. So, temperament wise he may be great, but I would love to see that matched with some attacking gameplay. I would love to see how someone like Sehwag would approach the captaincy.

  • goodshepherd on February 15, 2008, 18:45 GMT

    We don't want to compare Rama with Ravana or associate every character traits of Rams's with Kumble or Mr Pointing to Ravana, emperor with admirable guts and will to win the war @ all cost/means.. even if it ment waking Kumbakarana. It's conceptually equivalent. Kumble would not have been discovered if the captain of the greatest team on earth had not picked on him. It's it, if the greatest captain/king of his time Ravana had not picked on Rama... At the end cricket/rule goes on..But it will be hard pressed for cricket to find another Kumble.

  • Unifex on February 15, 2008, 9:27 GMT

    Uppidan, I most certainly do recognise the great character it took to take the Indian team to victory in Perth. Kumble is a player I have admired for many years. This is why I was so disappointed when out of frustration with losing he accused his opponents of not playing within the spirit of the game when they had done no more or less than every Test team does. Cricketers appeal. Often they are unsure, sometimes they should know better, but no team is morally superior. The LBW I spoke of, which all the players could see, was as good or bad as the Dravid dismissal. Ponting claimed a grounded ball; Dhoni claimed one that bounced in England recently. There are no saints playing Test cricket, but either both are in or both are outside of its spirit. That's my point: If somebody claims they are playing within the game's spirit and their opponent isn't, they had better be squeaky clean. Nobody is, so such an accusation shouldn't be made - nor applauded and continued by journalists.

  • Soumyaditya on February 15, 2008, 7:29 GMT

    An interview that features Anil Kumble that will be anything but uninteresting. He is an honest cricketer and an even better person. He is the most sincere and grittiest warrior of Indian cricket. He will be always remembered for not only his contribution on the field but off it as well.

    Anil thank you for the wonderful moments and we hope you will keep on creating magic for years to come.

  • fairdinkum on February 15, 2008, 5:03 GMT

    Sambit ...you are welcome to praise Anil Kumble, but to slight Ricky Ponting in the process is not welcome..."glib and confused!!!.." and is typical of the journalistic barracking that has been seen from Indian correspondents. I put this to you: On the cricket field Ponting has gone after victory aggressively and succeeded to the point of his remarkable captaincy record for all to see (16 test victories in succession, etc). India, on the other hand had the whip in the Adelaide test in the final 2 days, and had the opportunity to chase victory. What happened was .... nothing. Anil refused to go for it and settled for a limp draw. In Sydney, Ponting took a remarkable gamble for victory by allowing only 2 sessions to dismiss India. What happened? India crumbled (don't blame the umpires)and Ponting belief in his team was justified. This was the point in the series that really mattered, not Perth. So let the cricket talk, not post game declarations of unfair play & threats to go home

  • masterblaster666 on February 15, 2008, 4:29 GMT

    To lindabaja: Agreed....people are not reading enough into Kumble's frank admission to Ravi Shastri after the last Test that his shoulder wasn't holding up well at all after such a gruelling tour. I have a feeling that despite his fitting the job of captaincy tremendously, he really isn't going to stick around longer than at the most a year, the home series against Aus later this year may well be his farewell tour, though I hope not. After him, who??? Piyush Chawla has been promising and it's about time he gets a regular bowl so he can take over the mantle. But it still won't be the same...one of the all-time great bowlers of Test cricket is gonna go without really getting the recognition he deserved.

  • JB77 on February 15, 2008, 3:10 GMT

    Kumble is the master of spin. Not the spin that helps you get wickets, however. Rather the spin that helps you deflect any responsibility for a loss from yourself or your players. I cannot believe that, in a test series where both teams displayed poor on-field behaviour, that Kumble somehow walks away as a shining becon of truth and justice while the whole Australian team are turned into pantomine villans. I simply cannot understand this inability of Indian fans and players to see the hypocrisy in the Indian team's behaviour. Any past wrongs can be conveniently glossed over, forgotten or justified with the old excuse "the Australians started it!". Please Kumble - get off your high horse. It's a long way to fall from up there.

  • fairdinkum on February 15, 2008, 2:17 GMT

    The greatest achievement of Anil Kumbli as leader was to start the fracas after the Sydney test, which made everyone back home forget that he led his team to the loss of the Border-Gavaskar trophy after 2 tests. He is destined for political life. I observed during the Perth test a notable lack of focus by the Australian batting team in the first innings, with batters consistently waiving at balls outside the line of stumps. I have seen this before, when they just lose a bit of intensity after winning the series. India bowled well and all that, but, really, the series was all over.

  • Kazza1 on February 15, 2008, 1:49 GMT

    masterblaster - if you want to go on about poor decisions then remember that Tendulkar and Laxman were both out plum LBW early in their first innings and both went on to make centuries! you go can on and on about bad decisons as long and as much as you like the fact is India lost 3 wickets in 5 balls to a part time bowler with minutes remaining to LOSE an unlosable test match and those wickets you can't blame on anybody bar the Indians and their poor cricket.

  • mallenfromoz on February 15, 2008, 0:41 GMT

    The interesting thing about Kumble's spirit of the game comment is that for all the hype it generated it was, exactly as he says, an off-hand comment that "just came out". If you watch the footage of the press conference (which was posted on cricinfo just after Sydney), Kumble is asked over and over again by journalists whether he felt Australia played in the spirit of the game. His comment probably does reflect how he felt at the time but it was forced out of him. He was trying to be more diplomatic. I would have been interested to know whether, in hindsight, he stands by his remark because from where I was sitting (in the members, all five days) it was a great cricket match only marred by some disapointing umpiring. Throughout the series both sides pushed the limits of acceptable behaviour in different ways and I wish the Match Referee had been firmer on this from the outset. But in saying that, what made this an enthralling series was precisely this intensity. Bring it on!

  • topoz on February 14, 2008, 23:10 GMT

    My concern about Kumble is that I don't think he is great from a tactical perspective. IMO too conservative/tentative to go for the result when things aren't going India's way. So, temperament wise he may be great, but I would love to see that matched with some attacking gameplay. I would love to see how someone like Sehwag would approach the captaincy.

  • rauulhh on February 14, 2008, 21:55 GMT

    good interview n t person held in high regard who deserves to be held that way......................

  • lindabaja on February 14, 2008, 19:20 GMT

    The only thing scarier than Sachin retiring is Kumble retiring - I dont think we have a replacement anywhere in sight. Lets hope someone springs up off the earth or fomr the sky REAL soon!

  • masterblaster666 on February 14, 2008, 14:16 GMT

    Kazza1: how can Kumble state the Indians played fair, when they sent Ishant Sharma out with two right handed gloves on for the sole purpose of wasting valuable time - there were only minutes left and 1 wicket remaining - that is not playing in the spirit of the game that is trying to cheat.

    In modern Test cricket, except in the event of bad light or rain, the full quota of overs on the last day has to be bowled regardless of whether the the session has gone overtime. Since the rain threat was clearly not present during the final session, if not the whole day, it is not clear what India could have gained by such a move..it is more likely that Ishant, not expecting the flurry of wickets just as India looked to be escaping with a narrow draw, was simply not ready and had to rush out to avoid being Timed Out.

  • masterblaster666 on February 14, 2008, 14:00 GMT

    avinashrajpal: 4 key Australian players have retired in last one year and another key player Hayden was not playing in Perth whereas India had all their experienced players except Zaheer & RP in Adelaide.

    India won in Perth without any of their experienced pace bowlers in the squad. Since WI in 96-97, no team has beaten Aus at Perth either, even SA have never won at Perth. Having realistic expectations would do no harm, I guess. Yes, India played badly at Melbourne and Sydney and Kumble has stressed on it many times. It is not particularly intelligent when people connect those losses to the post-Sydney fracas because Kumble has never made excuses for poor performances.

    @007: Mate, Sachin and Dhoni got rough LBW decisions in the first innings at Perth, so let's not forget that when you talk of Hussey or Symonds's decisions. And since when were bowlers not supposed to appeal close LBW decisions?? Before I saw the replays, I did think Roy was out, the bat was very close to the pads.

  • masterblaster666 on February 14, 2008, 13:45 GMT

    @Unifex:

    1)The curator of Perth was sacked after the 92-93 Frank Worrell Trophy because the bouncy wicket allowed WI to clinch the decider and win the trophy.

    2)Alan Border blamed the Ashes loss in 85-86 in England on one dubious umpiring decision in the 4th test which put the series out of Aussie grasp...I do not just say this, I read this on Wisden Almanack, which rated Shane Warne among the top 10 greatest players of all time.

    Lastly - this is also for avinashrajpal - Kumble has said time and again that the batsmen should have applied themselves and surely should have batted two sessions out in Sydney. Where have you been??

    So, Aussies play hard and fair only so long as the going is good. However, going by what Kumble has said about our batting in Sydney, but for the racism row, he probably would not have made a deal about the other "issues". The media too, by asking a pointed question, forced him to take a stand which he would likely have preferred to avoid.

  • RedRascal on February 14, 2008, 13:02 GMT

    Well for detractors of Kumble claiming that his appealing is contrary to the spririt of the game- appealing is something everyone does, but not everyone grasses a catch and claims it and not everyone first badmouths oppostion players and then calls people whingers/dobbers when they complain about it and then when they get it back go complain to the umpire- and that is the spirit of the game that got violated and it is hard to get for supporters of a team that tries to justify it's on field antics as par for the course because it happens in the nations schoolyards. Thankfully some nations think of cricket as an adult sport and not justify behaviour based on what is acceptable in school.

  • avinashrajpal on February 14, 2008, 12:42 GMT

    IMO,Kumble made the comments about the spirit of the game just to divert media and fans' attention from the loss. The fact was India lost 10wickets in less than 70overs,3wickets in 5balls and 6wickets to part-time bowlers.It is not the first time Umpiring decisions have changed the course of match.In SA v NZ series,Mark Benson gave numerous LBWs when the ball was pitched way outside leg,one of the most glaring errors. Rudi errors in MCG changed the course of the match but instead of Aus cribbing,they got on with the game.In the hindsight, this was the best opportunity for India to win a series in Australia. Due to the drought in Aus,pitches have been dry and suit the Indians (esp MCG,SCG & Adelaide).4 key Australian players have retired in last one year and another key player Hayden was not playing in Perth whereas India had all their experienced players except Zaheer & RP in Adelaide. This was the best opportunity for India to win which they squandered due to their poor performance.

  • ASK3 on February 14, 2008, 12:03 GMT

    unifex you should really have a think before you say something.kumble is a man of fine and high honour.it is people like you who make fun out of little things such as appealing etc.when in the sydney test india's second innings when dhoni clearly did not hit the ball and ponting caught it and appealed,what is that?also he clearly grounded the ball and there is video proof.ponting should have known himself that the ball is grounded and after the match he goes off shouting at an indian journalist that his respect for the game is questioned.or when michael clarke was clearly out edging to slips and did not walk?clarke said he was shocked at that.but his face tells otherwise.or even andrew symonds for that matter.couldn't he have walked when he edged it.when ponting says the game was played in high spirits then andrew symonds really should have walked.as an indian i am proud of how my team plays on and off the field.i don't like bad comments about anil kumble or any indian for that matter.

  • Vnott on February 14, 2008, 11:35 GMT

    Unifex, surprised at the attack on Kumble in your mail. If anyone really SAW the Sydney test either in person or in TV it would be obvious that India were robbed of the Sydney test due to pathetic umpiring on one hand (resulting in atleast 6 wrong decisions against one team in the same test killing the contest) and multiple individuals in the Aussie team who kept appealing and applying pressure on the umpires to give wrong decisions (Keeping the Symonds episode aside, What Clarke, Ponting and even Gilly did was simply unacceptable - The worst was the Clarke- Ponting duo using the prematch agreement for the fielder to provide the final verdict on clean catches to claim that Ganguly was out when the catch was grassed). So much for spirit from a Captain and a future Captain. This is not about acts of celebrations, spitting or appealing. Bad Umpiring combined with Aussies desperation to win at all costs resulted in Kumble's comments . There was nothing wrong in what he said....

  • Uddipan on February 14, 2008, 10:57 GMT

    Kumble is perhaps the most righteous man to have ever walked the cricket field, and I am including Courtney Walsh, Adam Gilchrist, et al in this list.

    He is also a tremendous fighter and leader, who instilled self-belief in a team that was expected to cave in. So, here's what I have to say to Unifex...

    Here's a guy who motivated his team to win a test (Perth) after a demoralising defeat in a test that they should have won (Sydney). Add in the fact that it was against the most formidable cricket team on earth; on their home ground; and, on a pitch where India were supposed to get blown away in 3 days...and, I just hope you recognize the magnitude of character it takes to bring about such a transformation. Remember, nobody would have blamed the Indian team if they actually got blown away in Perth. But,for just doing the hard yards, and pushing his team to hang in there by the sheer toe nails, let's doff our hat to Kumble.

    He is player grandeur and captain magnificent.Give him his due.

  • Tam_London on February 14, 2008, 10:19 GMT

    I don't think Unifex know much about the game of Cricket and I don't think he would have seen on the day at Sydney. It was clearly visualed that what the Australian players and umpires have done was completely against the sprit of the game, then why he is talking about Anile Kumble. Can he prove any todays Australian players are a gentleman like Anil? its again after 100s of 1000s of Australians accepted whos mistake it was, I think we just ignore Unifex comments and move on with the game.

  • rajivgower on February 14, 2008, 9:44 GMT

    I have never heard anyone say anything bad about Kumble. His is such a quality bowler and person. An underated player, he was destined to live in the shadow of Warne and Murali. I hope he players till 2010.

  • thommo-CI-40 on February 14, 2008, 9:39 GMT

    Unifex has obviously not played much cricket if he thinks that appealing, celebrating and spitting on the ground equates to not playing in the spirit of cricket. A skipper picking the ball off the turf and appealing for a catch after signing a pact with his counterpart into agreeing to take the fielders word in close catches does. A skipper-in-waiting saying he was 100% sure of a catch that clearly bounced before he caught it does. A batsman staying at the wicket after the snick was heard back in the pavillion or another who stood his ground after guiding a catch to first-slip does. Celebrating a victory with utter disregard for your opponents waiting to congratulate you and shake your spit-stained hands definetly does. Finally cowardly fans taking pot-shots at opposing captains on a medium such as this don't realise that it's called the gentleman's game too because its followers appreciate the contest more than the result and never lose their sense of decorum in victory or in defeat.

  • 007. on February 14, 2008, 9:39 GMT

    win at Perth? was that completely genuine? considering that Australia lost by 60 something runs and atleast three of their premier batsmen fell to blatantly wrong decisions, even this win was facilitated by bad umpiring. why does everybody gloss over this?it was the same 'morally correct' Indian team that appealed for those decisions and took them. so much for 'letting cricket talk'. today, it is the norm for any team to appeal in unison if the ball passes within one inch of the bat without hitting; Team India included. so much for honesty. I just wish everybody shuts up and moves on. the only thing that will rectify this sorry situation is the ICC refreshing the 'elite panel'. now with Simon Taufel on his way out, one can only wonder how bad it will get.

  • A.R.S.Iyer on February 14, 2008, 9:13 GMT

    Sydney was a shame to cricket especially when it involved the giants India and Australia. Everything wrong happened there depending on the way you looked at it. But one man emerged from the disaster with his head high a man answering to the name Anil Kumble. He has served Indian Cricket for long and will be remembered as a gentle giant.

  • ruvvy on February 14, 2008, 8:09 GMT

    Unifex has misunderstood what is being said and am sure it is not deliberate!

    - 'Spirit of Game' was in reference to the Sydney game - He also says that individuals have to decide how they go about their business (karthik, clarke everyone included). But the team policy should be to play fair & square. - Every team has a right to appeal when the batsman is beaten.This is well with the spirit. Edge hitting the pad, or ball going past the edge to hit the pads is fairgame. At least the batsman was beaten and failed in his attempt to play as intended (No batsman wants to deliberately edge the ball on to pads) - Appealing for catching the ball on the half-volley is also fair. Because most of them, including the catcher, are unsure at that point of time. - But appealing for catch after grounding the ball is not, which the individual is completely aware, I think is out of line and brings to question his integrity as a human being, leave alone as a sports person.

  • himansk on February 14, 2008, 8:05 GMT

    No matter what is said about Kumble, one instance of his career will remain fresh in my mind alway, the day he came out to bowl in the final session of the day, with a broken jaw and bandage strapped around his face. That was the biggest instance of a player's commitment to his team and the game I have ever seen...

  • RaghuramanR on February 14, 2008, 7:54 GMT

    One of those very few things that Kumble got it wrong - "We are passionate,". We are not passionate. We have been, are, will only be EMOTIONAL. Passion is a positive aspect that should lead to winning games and not really blaming or mud-slinging. The entire Sydney controversy was because of the agreement between Ponting and Kumble and not because of Bucknor or Benson. Media and fans in India converted into a 'poor umpiring', 'poor gamesmanship', 'poor attitude' etc. Harbhajan episode was somehow mixed up with the FACT that India lost the match. Harbhajan-Symonds episode was totally unrelated to the match. Kumble's statement does raise the feeling whether he would have been a 'good captain'. Yes he acted like a true ambassador with full dignity, but 'good captain' is another 'ball game' altogether.

  • Kazza1 on February 14, 2008, 7:48 GMT

    cont'd how can Kumble state the Indians played fair, when they sent Ishant Sharma out with two right handed gloves on for the sole purpose of wasting valuable time - there were only minutes left and 1 wicket remaining - that is not playing in the spirit of the game that is trying to cheat. What did Laxman suspiciously put into his pocket on day 1 of the Perth Test, something he obviously forgot in the dressing room that he didn't want the public to see (funnily enough the ball swung incredibly) what did Kumble say about that NOTHING.....what did Kumble say about Pathan and Tendulkar not walking after clearly nicking the ball, and accused the Australians of - wasn't it cheating? what did Kumble say about Karticks claimed catch in Adelaide test or his dissent to the umpire or worse him spitting at Michael Clarke was Kumble still proud of his players, wasn't Kumble disgusted at Ponting and Clarke claimed catches? seems to be one set of rules for India another for everybody else.

  • Unifex on February 14, 2008, 7:22 GMT

    Once again with the "we play within the spirit of the game, and Australia doesn't". Really? Did Kumble refrain from appealing for Ponting's wicket when the Australian captain had clearly hit the ball? Did he call him back? Did he restrain Harbajhan from his triumphal celebration? No. Like his opponents, he appealed for what he thought he could get. Then took it. Did he later restrain Dinish Kartik from spitting in front of Michael Clarke after he had appealed for a catch that had not hit the bat? Not at all. Sulking, he let his Twelfth Man act like a boor, after acting just like the Australians had apparently done in Sydney. Yet Kumble claims the high ground and people like you, Sambit, stand and applaud. Are you kidding? Why didn't India just go home, given they couldn't handle losing, which, unfortunately, sometimes happens in cricket. Kumble was once my favourite Indian bowler, and I still think he's a wonderful player, but his self-righteousness is impossible to put up with.

  • SanjivSanjiv on February 14, 2008, 6:56 GMT

    Kumble is a great ambassador of the game. His strature as a perfect gentleman while maintaining the image of cricket as a gentlemen's game is extremely rare in the modern day cricket. I think BCCI was not that gentle for eluding him the captaincy for a long time. Wish he may be around for few more years and inculcate some of his traits in the captains to follow and also may influence the captains of the other teams to play the game in the true spirit of the game. With best of wishes for his future assignments! Sanjiv Gupta Perth Australia

  • arunrajaram on February 14, 2008, 6:28 GMT

    How can you describle kumble? I would say dignity personified. He has been a truly great ambassador for indian cricket. Though the sydney saga hurts him, though we were able to see the frustration and anger in his face he expressed his views meticulously. I would say kumble won the battle of brave hearts and he must be feted in leading his team in such a dignified fashion. Hats off to this gentle giant of Indian Cricket. I hope Ricky and his team would have learnt something out of Kumble's book. Indian cricket is moving in the right direction and they are the serious contenders to threaten aussies no.1 title. Game on!!

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  • arunrajaram on February 14, 2008, 6:28 GMT

    How can you describle kumble? I would say dignity personified. He has been a truly great ambassador for indian cricket. Though the sydney saga hurts him, though we were able to see the frustration and anger in his face he expressed his views meticulously. I would say kumble won the battle of brave hearts and he must be feted in leading his team in such a dignified fashion. Hats off to this gentle giant of Indian Cricket. I hope Ricky and his team would have learnt something out of Kumble's book. Indian cricket is moving in the right direction and they are the serious contenders to threaten aussies no.1 title. Game on!!

  • SanjivSanjiv on February 14, 2008, 6:56 GMT

    Kumble is a great ambassador of the game. His strature as a perfect gentleman while maintaining the image of cricket as a gentlemen's game is extremely rare in the modern day cricket. I think BCCI was not that gentle for eluding him the captaincy for a long time. Wish he may be around for few more years and inculcate some of his traits in the captains to follow and also may influence the captains of the other teams to play the game in the true spirit of the game. With best of wishes for his future assignments! Sanjiv Gupta Perth Australia

  • Unifex on February 14, 2008, 7:22 GMT

    Once again with the "we play within the spirit of the game, and Australia doesn't". Really? Did Kumble refrain from appealing for Ponting's wicket when the Australian captain had clearly hit the ball? Did he call him back? Did he restrain Harbajhan from his triumphal celebration? No. Like his opponents, he appealed for what he thought he could get. Then took it. Did he later restrain Dinish Kartik from spitting in front of Michael Clarke after he had appealed for a catch that had not hit the bat? Not at all. Sulking, he let his Twelfth Man act like a boor, after acting just like the Australians had apparently done in Sydney. Yet Kumble claims the high ground and people like you, Sambit, stand and applaud. Are you kidding? Why didn't India just go home, given they couldn't handle losing, which, unfortunately, sometimes happens in cricket. Kumble was once my favourite Indian bowler, and I still think he's a wonderful player, but his self-righteousness is impossible to put up with.

  • Kazza1 on February 14, 2008, 7:48 GMT

    cont'd how can Kumble state the Indians played fair, when they sent Ishant Sharma out with two right handed gloves on for the sole purpose of wasting valuable time - there were only minutes left and 1 wicket remaining - that is not playing in the spirit of the game that is trying to cheat. What did Laxman suspiciously put into his pocket on day 1 of the Perth Test, something he obviously forgot in the dressing room that he didn't want the public to see (funnily enough the ball swung incredibly) what did Kumble say about that NOTHING.....what did Kumble say about Pathan and Tendulkar not walking after clearly nicking the ball, and accused the Australians of - wasn't it cheating? what did Kumble say about Karticks claimed catch in Adelaide test or his dissent to the umpire or worse him spitting at Michael Clarke was Kumble still proud of his players, wasn't Kumble disgusted at Ponting and Clarke claimed catches? seems to be one set of rules for India another for everybody else.

  • RaghuramanR on February 14, 2008, 7:54 GMT

    One of those very few things that Kumble got it wrong - "We are passionate,". We are not passionate. We have been, are, will only be EMOTIONAL. Passion is a positive aspect that should lead to winning games and not really blaming or mud-slinging. The entire Sydney controversy was because of the agreement between Ponting and Kumble and not because of Bucknor or Benson. Media and fans in India converted into a 'poor umpiring', 'poor gamesmanship', 'poor attitude' etc. Harbhajan episode was somehow mixed up with the FACT that India lost the match. Harbhajan-Symonds episode was totally unrelated to the match. Kumble's statement does raise the feeling whether he would have been a 'good captain'. Yes he acted like a true ambassador with full dignity, but 'good captain' is another 'ball game' altogether.

  • himansk on February 14, 2008, 8:05 GMT

    No matter what is said about Kumble, one instance of his career will remain fresh in my mind alway, the day he came out to bowl in the final session of the day, with a broken jaw and bandage strapped around his face. That was the biggest instance of a player's commitment to his team and the game I have ever seen...

  • ruvvy on February 14, 2008, 8:09 GMT

    Unifex has misunderstood what is being said and am sure it is not deliberate!

    - 'Spirit of Game' was in reference to the Sydney game - He also says that individuals have to decide how they go about their business (karthik, clarke everyone included). But the team policy should be to play fair & square. - Every team has a right to appeal when the batsman is beaten.This is well with the spirit. Edge hitting the pad, or ball going past the edge to hit the pads is fairgame. At least the batsman was beaten and failed in his attempt to play as intended (No batsman wants to deliberately edge the ball on to pads) - Appealing for catching the ball on the half-volley is also fair. Because most of them, including the catcher, are unsure at that point of time. - But appealing for catch after grounding the ball is not, which the individual is completely aware, I think is out of line and brings to question his integrity as a human being, leave alone as a sports person.

  • A.R.S.Iyer on February 14, 2008, 9:13 GMT

    Sydney was a shame to cricket especially when it involved the giants India and Australia. Everything wrong happened there depending on the way you looked at it. But one man emerged from the disaster with his head high a man answering to the name Anil Kumble. He has served Indian Cricket for long and will be remembered as a gentle giant.

  • 007. on February 14, 2008, 9:39 GMT

    win at Perth? was that completely genuine? considering that Australia lost by 60 something runs and atleast three of their premier batsmen fell to blatantly wrong decisions, even this win was facilitated by bad umpiring. why does everybody gloss over this?it was the same 'morally correct' Indian team that appealed for those decisions and took them. so much for 'letting cricket talk'. today, it is the norm for any team to appeal in unison if the ball passes within one inch of the bat without hitting; Team India included. so much for honesty. I just wish everybody shuts up and moves on. the only thing that will rectify this sorry situation is the ICC refreshing the 'elite panel'. now with Simon Taufel on his way out, one can only wonder how bad it will get.

  • thommo-CI-40 on February 14, 2008, 9:39 GMT

    Unifex has obviously not played much cricket if he thinks that appealing, celebrating and spitting on the ground equates to not playing in the spirit of cricket. A skipper picking the ball off the turf and appealing for a catch after signing a pact with his counterpart into agreeing to take the fielders word in close catches does. A skipper-in-waiting saying he was 100% sure of a catch that clearly bounced before he caught it does. A batsman staying at the wicket after the snick was heard back in the pavillion or another who stood his ground after guiding a catch to first-slip does. Celebrating a victory with utter disregard for your opponents waiting to congratulate you and shake your spit-stained hands definetly does. Finally cowardly fans taking pot-shots at opposing captains on a medium such as this don't realise that it's called the gentleman's game too because its followers appreciate the contest more than the result and never lose their sense of decorum in victory or in defeat.