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Verbal volleys fodder for interesting copy

Kumble knew of his injury beforehand and was aware that if he played in that shape, he wouldn’t be doing his team any favour, writes Sunil Gavaskar.

india Updated: Oct 19, 2008 00:36 IST

It’s been quite an interesting few days not so much for what has happened on the field but more so at the exchange of words that has taken place between those connected with the game. It’s not just the Indians returning fire on the Aussies but also making a statement against the media.

Ever since commercialisation of the game began, one of the factors that changed was that players, who hardly spoke to the media, were now duty bound to offer their priceless views after a day’s play. This has been a boon for the media, which has expanded incredibly. Often after the player has given his views, which can often be tepid copy, he is asked to react to something that someone from the opposition has said and that can bring out what the media is actually looking for in its next headlines.

Anil Kumble, who can be the mildest of men off the field, had his say about the media in his column particularly after the stories that were speculative about the future of the senior players in the team. Asked by the media, he responded that those were not his views alone but also of his team. His decision to rest his injured shoulder and give himself an opportunity to be fully fit for the next two Tests is typical of the man whose heart is in the right place.

Kumble knew he was not to bowl in the manner in which he is used to and he was not going to play at anything below his best. Those who covered the jaw breaking injury in Antigua remember his determination when he came out to bowl with that handicap. In this instance, he knew of his injury beforehand and was aware that if he played in that shape, he wouldn’t be doing his team any favour.

Zaheer Khan’s comments after getting the man-of-the match award in Bangalore stirred up the Australians who believe they hold the monopoly of making adverse comments about the opposition. Zaheer was just trying to rub-in the fact that Australia were not able to get him and Harbhajan Singh out and he believed they didn’t have the bowling attack to dismiss India twice. Zaheer was obviously trying to get under the Aussie skins and he succeeded because the reaction from Ponting confirmed what Zaheer said about this Australian team not being the same.

Zaheer’s success also showed that apart from sledging the Indians are also learning that the tail should not be throwing their wickets away but hanging in there especially if a regular batsman is batting at the other end. Look at the way Stuart Clark stuck around with Michael Hussey in the warm up game and added almost a hundred runs and also helped Hussey get to his century.

Of course, it is easier for tail-enders to hang around a lot more now that there is a restriction on the bouncers and not too many genuine pacers are around but it is still admirable the manner in which Zaheer and Harbhajan applied themselves. Kumble and Ishant too had to be prised out.

The second Test has begun and the little champion has become the highest run getter in Test history and so far the only fireworks have been the ones seen after he reached the landmark. Let’s hope it stays that way for the rest of the tour.