India’s newly-appointed head coach Anil Kumble is keen to follow in the footsteps of his predecessors, John Wright and Gary Kirsten, and keep a low-profile in the job, he said on Friday.
The 45-year-old spin great, who played a lot of his cricket under New Zealand’s Wright and South Africa’s Kirsten, said he wants to emulate the duo’s coaching style during his one-year term.
Wright was India’s head coach from 2000 to 2005, and held a similar position at his Indian Premier League side Mumbai Indians in 2013-14, when Kumble served as the team’s mentor.
“I played a lot under John Wright, he’s been a great influence on how I’ll go about (the role), in terms of being in the background,” Kumble told the Board of Control for Cricket in India’s (BCCI) website.
“When I became a mentor for (the) Mumbai Indians, I brought John in because he understood a lot about Indian culture and then the way coaches work. So I’ll pick his brain,” said Kumble, who was appointed to the high-profile post on Thursday.
Kumble also enjoyed a good rapport with Kirsten (2008-11) during the leg-spinner’s last year of international cricket.
He played his final Test in November 2008.
“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,” said Kumble.
“Exactly how I’d like to work as well. Not in the front, but behind the scenes.”
Kumble is the first Indian to be appointed as the full-time coach of the national team since Kapil Dev (1999-2000), who served as coach-cum-manager 16 years ago.
Since Dev’s tenure, India have had Wright, Greg Chappell (2005-07), Kirsten and Duncan Fletcher (2011-15) as coaches, bringing contrasting fortunes for the side during their respective tenures.
Former skipper Ravi Shastri, who was also in the frame for the coach’s post, had assumed coaching duties from 2014 until the recent World Twenty20 as team director.
Chappell’s term was undoubtedly controversial, with the Australian charged of causing a rift within the Indian dressing room which apparently led to Sourav Ganguly’s ouster from the team.
Kumble, known for his work ethic and never-say-die attitude, stressed that a coach should be an “enabler” who takes “the burden off the captain”.
“You’re trying to build personalities, trying to build leaders. That’s how I’d like to look at this team,” said Kumble, who remains India’s highest wicket-taker with 619 scalps in 132 Tests.
Kumble, who was chosen for the high-profile job from a list of 57 applicants received by the BCCI, will join the team ahead of a gruelling season which begins with the West Indies tour in July.