Anil Kumble, the India captain, has hit out at the media's "uncharitable" comments on his fitness, calls for retirement, and his performance as a player and captain following India's hard-fought draw in the first Test against Australia in Bangalore. Kumble went wicketless in a total of 51 overs and a shoulder injury restricted him to only eight overs in the second innings.
In his syndicated column, Kumble said the media attention reminded him of the tour of Australia in January when he had to deal with several off-field issues, including the controversial Sydney Test which was marred by alleged racist remarks and cheating claims. On the vexed issue of retirement, he clarified that he will quit on his own terms.
"What has also been somewhat unexpected is the way the Indian media seems to have delighted in analysing and sensationalising every little action, remark or gesture," Kumble wrote. "I didn't really expect to have to go through this all over again on my home turf.
"That time, ten months ago, saw me unfortunately having to split my time between playing cricket and handling a host of unnecessary off-the-field issues, instead of being able to concentrate on playing the game and handling my team."
Kumble said he was confident of recovering fully in time for the second Test in Mohali starting on Friday. Dilip Vengsarkar, the former selection chairman, had slammed Kumble for not declaring his injury before the Bangalore Test and said he should not have played.
"And for those who are wondering, I'm feeling good. I am hopeful the shoulder injury I picked up during the match should be fine by the second Test and that it will be business as usual thereafter," Kumble said. "When I decide to make a final bow, I'll go on my own terms."
Kumble felt the criticism of India's performance in the Test was a little too harsh. Highlighting the positives, he said the bowlers did well to restrict Australia to 430 and praised Harbhajan Singh and Zaheer Khan for scoring half-centuries after the seniors had failed in the first innings.
"Actually, I'm pretty happy with the way things panned out after we lost the toss. From the look of the pitch, this was a track on which 600 could have been made batting first. That the Australians took five sessions and more to make about 400 is a reflection on how wonderfully well our bowling unit performed.
"Harbhajan and Zaheer stood up and made sure they not only cut down the lead, but also showed everyone that our tail can handle this Australian attack with ease. It may also be noted that our four senior batsmen, Sachin and Rahul, Sourav and Laxman, all played a part in this Test."
He also singled out the bowling of Zaheer and Ishant Sharma - they shared 13 of the 16 wickets to fall - who "bowled with heart and spirit to shape the way this series might go." Looking ahead to the Mohali Test, he said the team certainly didn't lack self belief.
"I can't promise things I have no control over, but the one thing that I can guarantee is that I won't give up the fight. We won't. The belief that I have in my team, and the belief that the team has in me is what matters the most."