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Glued to data mining, Anil Kumble wants more technology in cricket

Former Indian cricket team skipper and coach Anil Kumble holds a degree in mechanical engineering and is passionate about IT

cricket Updated: Nov 07, 2017 21:05 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Anil Kumble,Satya Nadella,Hit Refresh
Former Indian cricket team skipper and coach Anil Kumble with Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella (right) during a chat show on the latter’s book, "Hit Refresh", in New Delhi, on Tuesday.(AP)

Anil Kumble believes sport, and cricket in particular, is not embracing technology fast enough. However, he expects broadcasters to make a big push in future to connect with cricket fans in India.

It is rare to find a sports star interacting with the head of one of the biggest global brands, but the former India skipper and coach was at home speaking with Microsoft CEO, Satya Nadella on the latter’s recently released book “Hit Refresh” before a huge audience.

The meeting point was information technology and cricket. While Anil Kumble holds a degree in mechanical engineering and is passionate about IT, Nadella was an off-spinner growing up in Hyderabad and keenly follows the Indian cricket team.

“I’m trying to immerse myself in data mining,” Kumble told the Microsoft CEO. “It’s fascinating, in cricket every ball provides scope for innumerable amount of data… (but) sometimes sports lags behind in technology.”


India’s highest Test wicket-taker with 619 scalps feels technology now is limited to stump microphone, deciding leg before appeals and judging run outs besides the two-way communication which the late Bob Woolmer as South Africa coach introduced at the 1999 World Cup and is now popular in T20 leagues.

Kumble wants the technology expansion in cricket to enhance the fan experience.

“Wearable technology is there only in monitoring workload etc., but not in the game,” he said. Kumble recalled his experience of wearing the Microsoft Hololens – a virtual reality headset with transparent lens that gives a reality experience.

Kumble’s technology push is well known. His company Tenvec was sometime back involved in talks with the BCCI to provide scoring software, but the Board found it too expensive and it led to controversy with allegations of conflict of interest.

“We need technology to enhance the fan experience. Someone sitting at home can get the experience of sitting in the stadium, start speaking to the fan. You can resent technology in sport, but eventually broadcasters will bring that. There can only be so many fans, how do you interact with them?”


Using the book’s title as a metaphor in cricket, Kumble said his own “Hit Refresh” moment came during the 2003-4 Australia Test series. India, having drawn the rain-hit first Test in Brisbane upstaged the hosts in the next game in Adelaide, which is one of India’s most memorable Test wins abroad. The series eventually ended 1-1.

“When you cross 30, people start asking when you will retire. In Adelaide, Australia were 400/5 after the first day and I had around 1/100 in 30 overs. I went back to the hotel wondering about things, and how to turn things around.

“The following day, I kept bowling googlies, to an off-spinner’s field, and finished with 5 wickets. Eventually we won (Rahul Dravid hit 233 and VVS Laxman 148 in the first innings and Ajit Agarkar’s 6/41 saw Australia collapse to 196 all out in the second innings).”

Nadella said he learnt about the need for empathy in leadership – “see more of us in them and them in us”. He recalled an early lesson from his skipper RA Swaroop (an ex-Hyderabad and Baroda Ranji player) while playing a game in Hyderabad. Nadella, an off-spinner, was not getting a breakthrough and Swaroop (also an off-spinner) came on to get a breakthrough before letting Nadella run through the innings.

Kumble pointed out the 2001 home series win over Australia and the 2002 Test win at Headingley after electing to bat on a seaming pitch convinced India could take on any rival without fear.

First Published: Nov 07, 2017 21:05 IST