'Final bow on my own terms'
Over the past few days, I have received before and during the match, with various uncharitable comments on my fitness and retirement and performance as a player and captain, writes Anil Kumble.cricket Updated: Oct 14, 2008 23:35 IST
Over the past few days, given all the media attention I have received before and during the match, with various uncharitable comments on my fitness and retirement and performance as a player and captain, it does seem like I'm back in Australia again.
That time, 10 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. I didn’t really expect to have to go through this all over again, on my home turf.
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. Also, there's been this high praise for the way Australia played. Well, good for the Aussies, but I have a point to make here: In all the talk of aggressive, champion sides, it might make sense for someone to ask why 83 overs on a fifth day pitch wasn't enough time to finish the job.
It's perhaps easy to say one must ignore the media but for any normal person, that's a difficult ask, given the media's overwhelming presence in cricket. I would really appreciate if certain people realise that cricket is not spoken, it’s played and we, the Indian team, are out to play it.
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 and that the Australians took five sessions and more to make about 400 is a reflection on how wonderfully well our bowling unit performed.
While the spinners played their part by keeping the Australian batsmen quiet the first two days, Ishant and Zaheer bowled with heart and spirit to shape the way this series might go.
While Zaheer has been an integral part of our strategy, to watch how Ishant has developed as a bowler, now understanding the nuances of not just bowling with the new ball but also using the old ball well at such a young age, has been a pleasure. It bodes well not just for him but also for the future of Indian cricket.
Again, with the batting, the top order got us a start but when we lost quick wickets, 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. We all, especially the Australians, know what these men are capable of and I believe that when our main batsmen come to the party fully, it will fetch us big scores and hopefully, a winning platform.
So yes, I'm really, really pleased with 'the Indian way' of doing things. What people sometimes forget is that cricket is a team game. At different times, different people play a decisive role. For instance, I definitely didn't have a good game as a player, having my third Test in about 130 with no wickets and a 100 runs given but then again, I'm the only player in current cricket to have over 100 Australian scalps.
And for those who are wondering, I'm feeling good, I am hopeful the shoulder injury I picked up during the match (after bowling 40 overs in the first innings) should be fine by the second Test and that it will be business as usual thereafter. But what's infinitely more important to me is the way we've fought as a team. We've backed each other up, believed in each other and given ourselves confidence going into Mohali.
I'd like to add one final comment here, one that should hopefully settle things for a bit and let us concentrate on our cricket.
I can't promise things I have no control over, but the one thing that I can guarantee is that I wont 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. When I decide to make a final bow, I'll go on my own terms.