Former leg-spinner Anil Kumble, who was appointed the India cricket team’s head coach, said it was a nerve wracking experience giving the interview for the job before his former teammates.
Kumble was interviewed by the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) cricket advisory committee comprising Sachin Tendulkar, VVS Laxman and Sourav Ganguly at a five-star hotel in Kolkata on Tuesday.
“Sachin was on teleconference, but of course there was Dada (Ganguly) and Laxman on the other side of the table, so it was nerve-racking but it was great to present a plan,” Kumble was quoted as saying by bcci.tv.
Speaking about his appointment, the 45-year-old, who retired from international cricket in 2008, said, “It will be wonderful to get into the Indian dressing room as the coach. I am really looking forward to the challenge and the huge responsibility. I know there will be a lot of expectations and that is something which I am looking forward to.”
Kumble also said that he will work behind the scenes, much like former India coaches John Wright and Gary Kirsten, who helped Indian cricket scale new heights.
“I played a lot under John Wright, he’s been a great influence on how I’ll go about the job, in terms of being in the background. When I became a mentor for Mumbai Indians, I brought John in because he understood a lot about Indian culture and then the way coaches work,” he said.
“I was involved with Gary Kirsten only for the Test matches, a very short period. He was, again, someone who worked in the background and didn’t make himself visible. Exactly how I’d like to work as well. Not in the front, but behind the scenes.”
The former tweaker, who once bowled with a broken jaw, also said he would try and build leaders from the present team and try to share the burden of the captain.
“Important as a coach to take some burden off the captain,” he said. “Captain has a lot of things on his head, all cricketing decisions and non-cricketing as well.”
“Having been with the Indian team for such a long time and having had various experiences of not just conditions, but outside the cricket field, when you’re a coach, you’re not just coach on the field but also off it. You’re trying to build personalities, trying to build leaders. That’s how I’d like to look at this team,” he remarked.
Kumble also said that he has spoken with Test captain Virat Kohli and will look to iron out their strategies just before the Test tour to the West Indies.
“We have the West Indies Test series coming up, so that’s something our focus will be on,” he said.
“I’ve spoken to Virat (Kohli) and MS (Dhoni), must be on the flight back from Zimbabwe. It’s nice to have a camp here in Bengaluru before we go into the tour. We’ll sit down and iron out and get ready for the West Indies tour.”
“Bowling, getting 20 wickets in Test cricket will win you matches. That’s the focus and we’ll take it from there. Batting, we have some great talent there. I believe this team has the potential. It’s a young team and driven by young leaders,” he added.
“Looking forward to working with Virat and MS. Long-term, we have lots of Tests coming up in India, that’ll be our focus.”
The 45-year-old added that he will aim to be an enabler and not an imposer.
“They are already playing a good brand of cricket,” he said.
“I will bring my characteristics as well but won’t impose them on the players. My job is to convince players to buy into what I believe in and what they believe in. At the end of it, they need to own it. If the team doesn’t own what we agree on, then it’s not going to work. I’m only an enabler. I work as an enabler to make sure things happen,” Kumble added.