Former skipper Anil Kumble said he does not regret his time as head coach of the Indian cricket team but believed that the ending of his tenure could have been better.
The 49-year-old stepped down after the Champions Trophy in 2017 following a rift with skipper Virat Kohli.
“We did really well in that one year period. I was really happy that there were some contributions made and there are no regrets. I was happy moving on from there as well,” the former spinner told ex-Zimbabwean cricketer Pommie Mbangwa in an online session.
“I know the end could have been better but then that’s fine. As a coach, you realise, when it’s time to move on, it’s the coach who needs to move on. I was really happy I played a significant role in that one year,” he added.
Kumble had a successful one-year stint as India coach with the team reaching the Champions Trophy final and also becoming a dominant Test side, losing just one out of 17 Tests during his tenure.
“I was very happy that I took up that role [India coach]. It was great, the one year I spent with the Indian team was really fantastic,” said Kumble, who took 619 wickets in 132 Tests and 337 wickets in 271 ODIs for India.
“Having been with great performers and again being a part of the Indian dressing room is a great feeling.”
Kumble is currently the head coach of Kings XI Punjab franchise in the Indian Premier League and said he is looking forward to ending the team’s wait for the trophy in the tournament, whenever it happens.
Excerpts from the conversation:
Starting off as a cricketer...
Growing up, that was the one game we all played in the streets of Bangalore. We grew up playing with rubber ball or tennis ball, and made do with electric pole as a wicket. When I was 13-14, I sort of wanted to take up real cricket. I never ever thought I will make it, I just wanted to go to the club (Young Cricketers) and practice. I was bowling fast, when I started. I started as a medium pacer. For 13, I was quite fast. But a lot of senior players at the club stopped me from bowling because they said I chucked, I bent my elbow so that was it for me. Then I changed to leg break but I didn’t have a clue about it then. All I knew was that the use of wrist and that the arm should rotate anti-clockwise. Within a couple of months, I played Under-15 for Karnataka and never looked back. That was how I started bowling leg-break. Engineering was my Plan A and cricket was Plan B. But by the time I finished engineering, things changed.
Why and how he chose leg spin...
My grip is actually that of an off-spinner. And the grip remained off-spin throughout my career. But at that time, my brother told me why don’t you try leg-spin because there are not many around. When I went to U-15 selection, I was one among 1800-2000 kids in Bengaluru. To get to a 15-member squad is in itself a big deal. To catch the selector’s attention, you need to be blessed. That was one of the reasons I started to bowl leg spin. There was no formal coaching, it was just one of those things.I learned the grip, and wrist use. And throughout my career, I did not spin much anyway.
When I was selected for my first U-15 camp after doing well in school cricket, Chandra was my coach for a month. I could not ask for a better person to be next to you. One of the best to play for India. I was probably similar to him in terms of the pace I bowled. I asked him what I need to change and he told me to have a longer run-up, that remained throughout my career. He was someone I always looked up to. When I was down in my career, when people doubted me or I doubted myself, I used to go to him. He told me as I long my bounce and pace off the pitch were there, don’t worry. I owe him a lot.
On the 10-for at Kotla against Pakistan...
It’s like it’s happened yesterday for me. It was special. IT was pressure because Pakistan came to India after so long. We had to win at Kotla to square the series. I think I am most effective when the wicket is two-paced and there is uneven bounce. Till lunch, Pakistan had got off to a great start. I knew it was a matter of one wicket. After lunch, I changed ends. I got 1, then 2, and then it went on and on. I bowled non-stop from lunch to tea, but was getting tired. I knew I had great chance to better my previous best because I was six on six. After tea, I got 7, 8 and 9. And finished my over and Javagal Srinath had to bowl one, that was probably the toughest he had to bowl. He had to unlearn all his skills and bowl wide. But I didn’t ask him, believe me! I thought let’s give Wasim a single. But I thought I had to get one that over, because it would have been embarrassing to ask one more. I was just destined. One down in a series, against Pakistan, just so special.
On his coaching stint...
The hardest thing about coaching is that, while as a player you could influence the game with bat or ball, as a coach you couldn’t do much. It was a great feeling being in the dressing room.