November 4, 2010

The perfect man for the job

Anil Kumble is a born leader who likes to roll his sleeves up and get involved. His decision to contest the KSCA elections could be a stepping stone for bigger roles in Indian cricket administration

Anil Kumble's decision to get into cricket administration needs to be lauded for many reasons. Not least because he is actually contesting the election. Most cricketers like to be offered the job. No cricketer wants to put himself through the election process, and risk losing, which can be humiliating for somebody who has been a hero through his playing career. That Kumble has chosen to go through this process is typical of the man who bowled with a broken jaw. He has shown he has got a lot of courage outside the cricket field too.

Kumble is not the first cricketer to get into administration, yet he is different. He has just finished playing the game, and is one of the legends of Indian cricket. He has various other, more lucrative career options available, which cannot be said of many other cricketers who got into administration.

Kumble could have become a coach, he could have become a good voice in the media or in the commentary box, but I feel that he thinks that being in the media or becoming a commentator is not the best way to make a difference to the game. He knows the only way he can bring a change, is to get it through the system, become a part of the decision-making process.

And I am sure that if he has got into this field, he strongly feels that some things need to be changed in Indian cricket. He has taken this option purely because he feels this is the best way to make the difference to Indian cricket after retirement.

Kumble is not somebody who will stop short of giving it his all, in whatever he chooses to do. I saw this quality when I was part of the Indian team, and he had organised a benefit match for one of the Karnataka Ranji players. Now we all do that sort of thing, but I don't know anybody who would get into the deepest of nitty-gritties in the manner that Kumble did. Right down to travel, logistics, little details like rooms, he was the hands-on manager of that particular match. Kumble himself was a big star then.

For him, Anil Kumble the cricketer, the name, the brand, is one thing, but when he chooses to do something outside cricket he goes right down to the basics and looks to acquire all the knowledge one needs to have. He just doesn't march in as the great Anil Kumble, and hope that his aura, his stature, will see him through. That is perhaps why the people backing him have chosen him for the highest post.

The job Kumble has chosen will call for going all the way. Cricketers before him, too, have felt the need for getting into the system to make a change, but the first reaction of people they share their thought with is that it is a dirty world, full of politics. Kumble, though, knows the system better than many of us active players did. We, as current players, generally had no idea how the system worked. It was only after retirement that I came to know about the election system, how the officials were elected, who the secretary or the treasurer of an important association was.

Kumble is aware of what he is getting into. He and his colleagues, Srinath and Dravid, are educated people, they have seen life and they are not 20-year-olds, but mature guys with families. Kumble won't be easily threatened by the politics part of it. I am sure he is not expecting a bed of roses. It is people who have no knowledge of the system, and have only the passion, who will find themselves on thin ice.

"It is not about making speeches and slogans - Kumble is willing to work one step at a time, roll up his sleeves, and get dirty if need be."

I don't see Kumble getting disillusioned very quickly. He is not that naïve. I am sure he expects the worst. He has seen the world outside the cricket field. One of his possible associates in the future, Dravid, is also aware of how the world functions - the media, governance, the system, the people in it - he knows all of this, more than any other current cricketer I have met.

Kumble seems to have that natural feel for administration. When I was a part of the indian team and when it would come to sharing the prize money (25% for the Man of the Match and the rest split among the rest of the team), somehow he would be the man making all the calculations. We all know the role he played in formulating the contracts system in Indian cricket, which is such a security for a large base of cricketers.

Kumble is used to taking the lead not by just being a role model and making idealistic statements. He actually gets involved. It is not about making speeches and slogans - he is willing to work one step at a time, roll up his sleeves, and get dirty if need be.

There will be quite a few established administrators who will be squirming a bit after this news. This decision of Kumble could spur other big names and recent retirees to get into administration. Such people have obvious advantages that others do not.

But administrators with integrity who have real passion for the game need not worry. Only those who are in the system for the wrong reasons would feel threatened. In the last few years a lot of people from outside the cricket world who had never followed the game before in their lives suddenly discovered this great love for Indian cricket for reasons we know well.

I am not a person who believes that only players can make good cricket administrators. All you need is an administrator who wakes up every morning thinking what is best for Indian cricket and looks to work towards it. With Kumble, that passion, and knowledge of the game is ample, only his management skills will be put to test.

It will be important for him to forge partnerships with the right people in cricket politics, more so outside his own state association. If he can find and then join hands with people who think a bit like him and are willing to make a healthy contribution to Indian cricket, he can become a real force in Indian cricket administration.

It will be difficult for him to make a difference only on his own. He will not be able to achieve much if he stays in the minority in BCCI. And when I am talking about making a difference here, I am not talking just Karnataka cricket, I am talking Indian Cricket. Not only me, but everybody who are today excited by Kumble's decision, are hoping that KSCA is just a stepping stone into Indian cricket administration for Kumble.

As told to Sidharth Monga

Former India batsman Sanjay Manjrekar is a cricket commentator and presenter on TV. His Twitter feed is here

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Munawar on November 10, 2010, 7:38 GMT

    Laxman is perhaps the best batsman in world right now. Gambhir must make way for Jaffer. It's time to get the country's best bat who is not in the team back into the team. Technically and temperamentally Jaffer is the most well equipped for No.2 position and is a much better option than Vijay in Tests. Dravid must retire now. He clearly is struggling these days. Time for him to bid adieu. Pujara must be brought back in. Raina must go. He is good for ODIs and T20s but doesn't have the technique or temperament for Tests. No, Yuvraj shouldn't replace Raina. Yuvraj has got enough Test chances and is good for ODIs & T20s like Raina. Rohit like Yuvraj doesn't merit a Test place either. Kaif deserves a Test chance provided Dhoni agrees. Kaif as a wounded tiger will grab the opportunity with both hands and could be a threat for MSD as a potential future Test captain. Else Badrinath merits a Test cap. Ishant needs to be brought back in the Test XI. He is a special talent. Ojha must be persisted

  • Dummy4 on November 5, 2010, 18:49 GMT

    it will be of great effort to have Anil Kumble at the stepping stone for a great comfortable sport acadamy of the world.It allready shows how influencial world class players perform IPL,may this action be one to india's great sport potential.

  • Leslie on November 5, 2010, 14:42 GMT

    It is obviously a welcome sign to have people who know about the game at the helm of affairs. But let somebody have a vision for the future and have sporting spongy bouncy wickets as well as square turners (not dumb cement wickets) for Ranji cricket which is sure to produce genuine bowlers from India. Let the curators be not ruled by the local captain, but by men with a vision as was the case during Vengsarkar's reign as selector - the Indian fan prays for men with vision!

  • Mohan on November 5, 2010, 9:51 GMT

    Kumble is contesting elections,and as said by Manjrekar he is the obvious choice for KSCA president.....HOLD A BIT!!!!!!!!!Unless the greedy administrators presently working doesn't harm Kumble (psychologically and politically),only then he can be able to improve domestic structure.Otherwise we may lose another stalwart as we see elsewhere in political field.Kumble is strong enough to tackle malicious administrators. Time again will tell how strong he is?The phenomenal achievement would be to use the infrastructure to develop better athletes and then the cricketers.

  • Dummy4 on November 5, 2010, 1:47 GMT

    It can only be good news for India, should Anil Kumble be elected. A truer gentleman of the game could not be found... I hope he is as successful off the field as he was on it.

  • Dummy4 on November 4, 2010, 19:10 GMT

    This comment is regarding the news item posted by cricinfo reg "south africa secure festival test deal": I completely agree with CSA. Why should Saf tour Aus for festival tests when Aus doesnt recognize? Also, why is BCCI silent? Now that India is on top of the tree in test rankings and the BCCI keen on test calender, is this not the right time for the BCCI to flex its muscles and host festival tests? Pongal Tests in Chennai, New Year Tests in Kolkatta, Christmas Tests in Mumbai, Republic day tests in Delhi something like that? Why not Kumble & Co, who are set to join the cricket administration throw light to this? This must be done before the next ftp is drawn out

  • Srikanth on November 4, 2010, 18:04 GMT

    Though I don't like cricketers talking about Elephants in dressing room, I appreciate for the first time for writing a good piece on Mr.Kumble. KUmble, Sachin, Dravid, Laxman are pioneers of Indian cricket. We are proud of them. All the best to KUMBLE. Augus well for the Indian cricket. Legend is always Legend. What we missed in Kumble as long time captain, we will get it now.

  • Shiv on November 4, 2010, 17:13 GMT

    Sanjay once again brought to focus what a mine field administration is. Though Kumble is vastly different in terms of integrity compared to the likes of Shivlal Yadav, Kirti Azad,Kapil Dev,, Brijesh Patel who have all meddled in the dirty whirl pool of adminsitrative politics and to a great extent some of the mud sticking on,it will still be a challenge to him.My advice to him if he gets KSCA post is to look at one term not beyond and do all that is neccessary and correct for improving cricket structure in the state of karnataka. Along with administrative skills, he must put in place a system of transparancy epecially in positions given to people and also in the usage of vast sums of money that gets poured to KSCA. My challenge to all honest people in this world - why not be bold and shrewd to put in place the right things and exhibit the same ruthlessness to rid all the corrupt and the crooked the same way corrupt people do in ridding honest people? Why show mercy to them?

  • Dummy4 on November 4, 2010, 15:49 GMT

    One of the most humble cricketers ever not to mention one of the toughest, heading the KSCA is like a Bonanza for Karnataka. It can only get better from here on.

  • Dummy4 on November 4, 2010, 14:29 GMT

    @DaredevilsUnlimited I think your last comment doesn't make sense.You should have also given due recognition to Ian Chappel for his comments after India's exit from the world cup.LOL!No player performs as per the wishes of their critics or admirers.The individual player faces the heat on the pitch and his skills and preparation makes him what he is.So you think Sachin was reading the articles of Manjrekar and Chappel when he was in net practice or mentally preparing for the matches.Sachin's renaissance has to do with his efforts and perseverance not with a a armchair critic.

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