Anil Kumble – Not the accidental coach
The British surely may have invented the game but India is now the big fish when it comes to cricket. A population of over a billion comes to a standstill whenever there is an intense cricket battle. So naturally when you are to pick the national coach it is bound to be a spectacle for the masses and like Ravi Shastri would have said – “Make no mistake about it being a hugely followed affair.”
Ravi Shastri’s tenure had come to an end and the Indian team was looking for its next coach. Could it be Ravi again? I am not denying that Shastri did a decent job with the team but I am sure the question baffled every cricket lover. Many able contestants applied for the job including a certain gentleman named Anil Kumble.
The lanky leggie was finally given the nod to coach Team India and as expected the aftershocks were felt by Ravi Shastri. The hoopla that Ravi Shastri and Saurav Ganguly have engaged in is already covered widely by the media and is not the intention behind this post. The motive here is simple – Why the author believes that Anil Kumble is a better choice than Ravi Shastri?
Ravi Shastri and Anil Kumble are two very different personalities; the former has always had a larger than life persona and Kumble goes about his business with minimal fuss. Even in the commentary box, you can make out Shastri speaking his lungs out while Kumble is always measured with his pinpoint accuracy of words.
Harsha Bhogle once said this about Sachin and Sehwag while they were batting together that it was like a Butcher(Sehwag) batting at one end and a surgeon (Sachin) operating at the other end. Without taking anything away from their cricketing galore as both have been excellent servants of Indian cricket, I would draw like to draw a similar comparison here, if Ravi Shastri is fire then Anil Kumble is ice.
A poor record in Tests
India has had a very abysmal record in touring at test match level in the past year and a half. It was a tectonic shift in Indian cricket when MS Dhoni handed over the reins to Virat Kohli. The Delhi-born lad, as we all know, likes to play “in your face” flavour of cricket. The aggression runs deep in veins and rightly so.
The Indian fielding had looked lacklustre under the leadership of Dhoni, often deploying purely defensive fields and just going through the motions. The situation called for a change of guard and Kohli is undeniably the rightful heir.
Leading Team India is no mean feat and Kohli will need every bit of help he can get from the coaching and the support staff. Considering this in mind, I believe that the decision to pass on the baton to India’s most successful Test bowler is a great one. Let me break it down for you.
Kohli by himself can be over-animated at times and that is not always the right thing to do at the international level. You need a calming influence in the dressing room to do a reality check and I believe that Anil Kumble can be the ideal guy for that.
Rarely has the world seen Anil Kumble losing his anger on the cricket field. Yes, he was known to glare at the fielder if he misfielded off his bowling but that was mostly the end of it. Kumble knew how to keep his emotions in check.
Experience could be the key
Anil Kumble comes with tons of experience and a proven track record at leading his sides both at the International as well as the IPL level. It will be foolish to question his capabilities in that regard. But the important point to consider here is that Kumble is a very good communicator which is a must have for every coach irrespective of the level he is coaching at.
Rest assured that he will not be the one going for “making the players comfortable and engaging in small talk”, he is usually direct and knows how to put across his point. Even while addressing the media on the eve of him being appointed the head coach, he made very crystal clear statements.
Most importantly, as it has been said numerous times, if the Indian team is to win test matches then it needs to take 20 wickets. Kumble’s umpteen years of leading the bowling attack for India will percolate down to the bowling talent we have and will surely help us produce quality bowlers.
Bowling in tests is about partnerships be it pace or spin. Kumble hunted in tandem with Harbhajan Singh for a long while and he surely realizes this fact. He is expected to provide quality feedback and help polish the raw talent into genuine spinners and not the ones who just roll their arms over and leverage the dust bowls right from Day-1. In this regard, it will be interesting to see how the bowling brigade performs under him in the upcoming test series. In his own words from a recent press conference:
"At this point in time, I thought I can get close to the bowlers, for a start. Yes, we are considering options, I don't want to say what because this is my first trip as coach with the team and I'd like to observe and try and see how the team is shaping up. At this point in time, I thought that with the bowlers, it is the strategy that I can certainly play a part of and that's something which I am looking at, trying to get closer to the bowlers, understanding what their needs are and then looking at probably bringing in, if you are looking at a fast bowling coach I think is what you are trying to say. There are considerations that I am thinking of but at this point, I don't know if it will be possible to take someone to the West Indies. If that doesn't happen, then certainly I am keen to look at the bowlers. I feel that that is certainly an area where I can contribute a lot more.”
As a keen follower of the game and well wisher of Indian cricket, I believe that Jumbo can be of immense help to team India. It is not often that Indian team’s calendar is loaded with Test cricket rather than limited overs cricket. Though Kumble as of now only has a period of one year to prove his worth but knowing this relentless persona I do believe that good things are in store for Indian fans.