Image courtesy of: ESPNcricinfo
Anil Kumble is excited to embark on his one-year adventure as India coach and made it clear that his main aim is to see the national team excel in all three formats of the game.
Kumble’s first assignment will be India’s tour of the West Indies next month and the former leg-spinner insisted that the transition from player to coach was not an awkward one.
“Obviously you know the roles and boundaries as a coach,” Kumble said. “Other than that it’s no different. All of us want Indian cricket to be doing really well, and these are exciting times. I feel privileged to be a part of that journey, and in whatever way I can help Indian cricket achieve that.
“It was no different walking into a meeting room with the entire team, although the faces were different. I’ve played with some of them; I’ve mentored a couple of them in various capacities. To be back in the changing room is always special.”
Having been handed the reins, Kumble now aims to instill better communication with all the players involved in the Indian set-up.
“As a coach, all I sought was organised preparations for the team and informed inputs to the captain and the team to strategise better,” he said. “Inclusive of every player. You have to include every player. It’s not about just the 11 who are to play. Also abut the six or seven who are not going to play.
“That’s something I sought as a player because it was not always that I played in every team that played for India during my time. I was dropped, I was not chosen for tours. So I understand [what it means to] be the most important member in the team to being dropped.
“I understand all of that, I understand that communication at such times is very critical. For the coach to pick up the phone and send the message, ‘Don’t worry you are still part of the team.’ That’s what I will look to do. Hopefully I will be able to succeed in telling people who are part of the system that they will always be part of it.”
For the forthcoming tour of the West Indies, Kumble has opted to take Sanjay Bangar as the team’s batting coach and Abhay Sharma as fielding coach, but he decided against having a bowling coach as he wanted to handle that role himself. However, he did not rule out the option of appointing a fast bowling coach in the future.
“At this point in time, I thought I can get close to the bowlers, for a start,” Kumble said. “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.”
Meanwhile, Kumble revealed that he was the first one to call Ravi Shastri after being named head coach. Shastri was also being considered for the position after serving as team director for nearly two years before his contract expired at the end of the World Twenty20 in April.
“I was the first one to call Ravi after I was chosen as head coach,” Kumble said. “He did a wonderful job with the Indian team. It is not about Anil or Ravi, it is not about the head coach. It is about the players, it is about the team. And from my point of view, whether it is me or Ravi or any Indian, we all want the Indian team to do well. We all want the Indian team to perform at its best. We all believe that there is potential for the Indian team to be the best in all three formats.
“And If I’m part of the journey, that’s all I have to say. He congratulated me. I told him it’s a fantastic team, a young team that we have. It could be someone else tomorrow [in place of me]. I’m not permanent in this role.
“I have an opportunity to make a difference. I have an opportunity to be part of the journey and if I can be part of the journey where we see Indian cricket rise to where we all want it to be, then I think it’s wonderful. I feel privileged, like I already mentioned. And an honour again to be a part of the team.”