For more than 100 minutes Anil Kumble, captain of the Indian team, stayed off the field and no-one had any idea why. Amazingly, the BCCI, which had just then distributed a media release announcing the teams for the Challenger Series, did not think it fit to let anyone know why their Test captain was not on the field.
When Kumble dropped himself two spots down to No. 10 in the batting order on Saturday the rumours began, but Nitin Patel, the physiotherapist of the team, was unwilling to clarify what the problem was. With no official word coming from within the team, speculation began to do the rounds. The general buzz was that Kumble had a sore right shoulder and could be out of not just this match but the whole series. The rumours soon grew out of proportions and suggestions of another retirement began to do the rounds.
On the eve of this Test Kumble had made his stance plain, even requesting the media, and the public, not to speculate about when he would retire. For someone who has toiled long and hard for India in a variety of conditions, Kumble has rarely got the credit he deserves, and now, at the twilight of his career, the least the BCCI can do is to ensure that the environment is clear of rumour and speculation.
The new dispensation of the BCCI speaks of transparency at every possible opportunity and here was a situation crying out for just that. The media, and the 20,000-plus crowd at the Chinnaswamy Stadium, deserved to know why the Indian captain was not out in the middle.
The BCCI now has regional media managers, media managers at Test match staging associations and a full-time paid professional to handle media at its headquarters in Mumbai. Surely, it could have come up with some kind of release.
Even at the end of the day, when Robin Singh, the fielding coach, addressed the official press conference, there seemed little information forthcoming. Robin did say that Kumble had a sore shoulder, but when he was asked if a scan had been done on the shoulder in question, all he said was, "Well it's not part of my jurisdiction, you have to ask the physio." When journalists then pressed for the physio, Robin said, "Maybe Russell (Radhakrishnan, who handles team logistics and press conferences) can answer." Russell then stepped up and asked a question to the media: "He bowled in the afternoon, you saw him bowl, right?"
That's it? Perhaps Russell does not remember, but we all saw Kumble bowl, with his jaw broken, in Antigua in 2002.