Anil Kumble has rubbished reports that seniors in the side are being forced into retirement by the BCCI and the selectors. "We have never discussed that among ourselves. All the talk is only in the media," Kumble said. "Age doesn't matter at all [if a player is doing well], otherwise I would have retired long ago."
Kumble also couldn't see why there should be debate over Sourav Ganguly's selection for the first two Tests. "He was a part of the last Test series as well. I don't see a change," he said.
There had been media speculation before the selection that the team management didn't want Ganguly in the side. "Reports can say a lot of things," Kumble said. "I can't divulge what happened in the selection meeting, but I don't see any change: he was a part of the last Test team, he is a part of this series as well."
The performance of the seniors, including Ganguly and Kumble, has been a recent talking point, especially after the Sri Lanka Tests where they were below par. Ganguly managed only 96 runs in six innings and Kumble eight wickets at an average of 50.00 during India's 2-1 series defeat this summer.
"It is only the media scrutiny," Kumble said. "The board and the selectors have never scrutinised unreasonably. In terms of the players' performance, we have performed exceptionally well, except for that one bad series in Sri Lanka.
"If you go by the record, I don't think the senior players have ever performed badly. The reason we got those results in Australia was thanks to the batsmen scoring those runs. It's never been a problem. It's just that, leading up to the series, you [media] have a lot of time to speculate. As far as I am concerned I think we have the quality to go out there and get the runs as batsmen and get the wickets as bowlers. I think we have the quality to do well."
Kumble felt the seniors weren't under undue pressure because of the increased scrutiny. "We have been playing for 18 years, if we couldn't handle that pressure we wouldn't have played so long," he said. "The pressure is always there, we can handle that. It's just that it needs to be a bit more respectful. When people discuss cricket, when people discuss players, it needs to be handled respectfully. If that is done, we don't mind the scrutiny. If it's done rubbishly, and the way it's being portrayed, it hurts. If it's respectful it doesn't matter; everybody is scrutinised."
He was in a brighter mood, though, when discussing India's chances in the forthcoming series against Australia. "This is the best possible chance we have of winning the series. We have prepared exceptionally well. So we're looking forward to that.
"It's more or less the same side we played in Australia. We will certainly try to use the home advantage. We have come pretty close in the last couple of series against them, so this is a really good opportunity."
Talking of the previous series, Kumble will want to carry forward the quality of cricket and forget the acrimony. "That [controversies] was a part of the last series and everyone is now looking forward to this series. The cricket played in Australia - most people don't remember - was excellent. I am sure it will be good, competitive cricket whenever India play Australia. We are really looking forward to the challenge," at the end of the fourth day of the pre-series camp at the Chinnaswamy Stadium.
It was a day of optional net practice for India, and one could see that they had let the intensity taper off, which was their original plan. Virender Sehwag took the day off, while Zaheer Khan and Harbhajan Singh only batted. The other absentees were RP Singh, who has gone to Chennai for India A's match against New Zealand A, and Mohammad Kaif, who hasn't been picked for the first two Tests.