Anil Kumble Curated
Former Cricketer, Coach, Commentator
CURATED BY :
If you were in charge, would an Indian eleven ever play without a spinner?
Not really, I think you need a spinner. You need the combination, because you need a bowling attack which can bowl in all conditions. Because at the start of the game, unless it is a green top, unless you know that when you bowl you are going to dismiss the opposition in less than a day. Then you take a chance with four seamers. When you know that the wicket is going to remain like that throughout the Test match, then there is a possibility that you look at four fast bowlers otherwise you will always need a spinner. Also look at the opposition as well. You know as an opposition, Australia hasn't always had good results with good spinner and India has some fantastic spinners. When you look at the opposition, no matter what the pitch is, you know when Australia has struggled with spin especially with this team there is not much depth in their batting line up, you know with the Aussies you would always have a spinner in your team.
Would you opt for Kuldeep Yadav if Ashwin and Jadeja were not available due to injury?
No, if both of them were not available then you didn't have a choice but to go with four fast bowlers because Kuldeep requires another spinner at the other end. I believe that Kuldeep requires that because he is still young and being the lead spinner is too much of a risk, but ideally you would want someone like a Jadeja or an Ashwin at the other end when Kuldeep is playing but I think Jaddu was fielding on couple of days in Perth Test so I am not sure what the extent of injury was.
Would you go as far as describing it as a blunder?
No, I think like I said if both the spinners have been injured, then you didn't have an option. Then you would have preferred to say that upfront rather than now. That I don't know why the team management didn't mention Jaddu's injury but you know having said that, I have been through shoulder issues and I have taken injections on my shoulder. It does take a little bit of time to settle down but when it is settling down, the last thing I want to be doing is throwing from the deep. That is something I wouldn’t want to do if my shoulder is settling down from an injection.
As a coach, player and a captain yourself, how is it that professional cricketers, team managements, end up misreading conditions?
It is management for me to judge from this far but you know generally you try and plug all options. When you pick a team, when you pick up a playing eleven, try and take the skills of players who can probably contribute irrespective of what the conditions are, number one. Number two, if the conditions do deteriorate, do help the spinners, then you need that option. In this current cricket team, you know when I played there was Sachin Tendulkar who could bowl and pick up wickets. Virender Sehwag could run in and bowl spin. Whereas in this team, there is no one other than Hanuma Vihari and he is also part-timer. I mean he also not like a Virender Sehwag or for that matter Sachin Tendulkar who could bowl spin. So in that kind of a scenario, I am surprised that India went without a spinner.
Would it be very difficult to field for India XI that opens with Vijay and Rahul looking at what happened in the first two Test matches?
Yes, it is unfortunate, I mean we know what the potential of KL Rahul is .Unfortunately he hasn't turned that into a performance, I mean consistent performances. Last year he was really good in terms of contributing to the Test matches as well. He had some big hundreds but unfortunately he has fallen behind the way side, I think it is just not his technique that he is probably doubting at the moment but also his mind. I think will be good to give him a break and perhaps make him play the longer format in domestic cricket and that is a good option for Rahul. I don't think you would be going with Rahul with this kind of mindset. I believe that Mayank Agarwal has done exceptionally well in domestic cricket, he has flown in, give him an opportunity, straight in.
Why do you think that the top order batsman are getting out because of LBW?
I can only think of two things, I have not been a batsman who has scored a lot of runs and if you look at that from a technical aspect. You know all I can think of is probably he has all these insecurities about not doing well in the recent past, those gremlins are all in your mind, you are constantly thinking about when is my big innings coming through, maybe those thoughts are in your mind and you are not watching the ball as closely enough from the hand. Any batsman whether you are a top-order batsman, or a lower order batsman or a bowler who can just hang on. you need to just watch the ball really really closely from the bowler's hand. If you are not picking from there then you are slightly fraction of a second late. That we know, when the ball is being hurled at you at literally 145 to 150 KMPH you don't have a chance to even put the bat maybe that's why he is missing the ball and getting bowled.
Would you be fine with it if the batting openings are done by Hanuma Vihari and Mayank Agarwal in Melbourne?
I am ok with that but there is also another option. Whether you want to look at Parthiv Patel to open the batting and keep wickets that will mean Rishabh Pant who has done really well behind the stumps and also contributed well at the lower middle order. So would you want to do that, or would you push a Hanuma Vihari at the top? So that is the call you would want to take. But going by if you wanna keep Rishabh Pant who has done well, who is a youngster and is learning and doing well, he is the future. So perhaps you would still like to keep Rishabh Pant and probably push Hanuma Vihari up the order.
Do you think that the Indian Cricket team must opt for Mayank Agarwal and Murali Vijay than putting KL Rahul at rest?
See, Murali Vijay showed a lot of character in the second innings at Perth. He scored 20, he looked solid, looked comfortable. Maybe I am tempted to go with a Murali Vijay but if you look at the last 15 Test matches that Murali Vijay has been part of he just had one century and that too against Afghanistan. So in that sense...and it is also just not about the openers here you also need to think about the combination. You need to play the five bowlers, because we have seen MCG last year was a flat deck when Australia played England. If it is going to be similar and we have seen that fast bowlers have done an exceptional job in the last two Test matches both in Adelaide and Perth where you didn't have the time to recoup. So, India have had about a week off after the Perth Test match going into MCG. Do you still want to go with four bowlers, maybe one spinner and three fast bowlers, would you want to do that? Or would you want to have five bowlers maybe two spinners and three fast bowlers. If you are doing that, then your combination at the top really changes and we have seen the openers in this series have not really contributed so in-fact you would look at this opportunity perhaps looking at Hanuma Vihari opening the batting. And I have been really impressed with his temperament, his skill and his ability with the defence and his technique looks very solid, he looks composed, he doesn't get rattled by the situation nor with the faster bowlers really bowling quick so I think he has it in him to be possibly be looked as a makeshift opener.
Would Hardik Pandya be a good decision if he is selected for the Test Series in Melbourne?
See, the only option you would consider a Hardik Pandya is if you are looking at him as your fourth fast bowler in a five-man bowling attack. That is your only option. If he is your third fast bowler then I won't consider Hardik Pandya because he has had too little time. You would rather go with two spinners. If both Ashwin and Jadeja are fit. Then perhaps both of them or Jadeja has still not recovered or Ashwin has recovered. Then maybe throw in a Kuldeep there. We know Kuldeep has really troubled the Aussies in the one Test match that he has played against them. And also against the Australia in the One Day series. So, if it is a flat deck, it may be worth having someone as Kuldeep at the other end. So, I would definitely look at the five-bowler theory because the fast bowlers have really done the hard work and bowled really well, they have been relentless in the last two Test matches. And it has been 100 overs because in both these Test matches, the bowling attack has bowled 100 overs. So it's not easy to come back into an important Test match with very limited rest, coming in with three fast bowlers and one spinner. So, I would prefer to have the fourth option whether you want to go with a spinner or whether you want to go with Hardik Pandya. Both Jadeja and Hardik Pandya would give you enough to bat as well but probably Jadeja will give you more with the ball. Especially in the second innings.
Do you think that Rahane is now not in his best form as he is unable to make as many runs like Virat and Pujara who are scoring at least a hundred?
He is a quality player. That's why I don't want to tamper with the middle order. Pujara has to bat three, Kohli has to bat four, and then Rahane at five. Because there will be a temptation if you are looking at Pujara moving up the order to open the batting. Something you even have to consider. So, yes Rahane has done well, he has got good starts, he has had a couple of fifties, but somehow I get that feeling that he has in it mind that he has to be really aggressive and he is a stroke maker. I mean he is a stroke player. He plays his shots, and once he is set he is a wonderful player to watch. He just needs to relax and maybe just postpone that thought. You know every time, you are in a hurry, for some reason probably he believes that he needs to be aggressive in the middle order and get the game moving. Maybe that is his thought process, especially when the spinner comes on. So, I think it is important in that point of time. It happens as a bowler as well, when you know you are really bowling well and that wicket is helping you. You start thinking of too many variations. And when you are thinking of too many variations as a bowler that one thing that you tell yourself is to postpone that thought by a ball, and that probably applies to batsman as well. When you are thinking too much that I need to play shots here, I need to be hitting boundaries, it is a good thing to just pause and say 'let's just think about in the next ball rather than just this ball,' I think this thing will certainly help him. He is a quality player. He has shown us in the past that how he can build on his innings and get those hundreds. India needs him to get those hundreds in the middle order.
What is your assessment of Virat Kohli as a batsman?
Absolutely, I mean the one thing that you have to tell when you look at his career. That in each game, he not only improved his skill level, but he has taken it to the next level. Irrespective of the conditions but also mentally he is under control everything that is happening around. He has the ability to take his team around with his batting. He has matured and you can see it. The way he controls the game, I mean he doesn't play too many loose shots. He doesn't look to hit in the air. I mean when is batting with the lower order. You know he controls the game and you know if he crosses the 20, 30 marks you know that he got to take the hundred. That has been the beauty the way Virat has done it in the last couple of years. He has been able to convert the starts and make a big score, and that's something I would like to think that a Rahane, someone like an opening batsman who haven't really done well need to learn from. I mean they had a good start. Murali Vijay had a great start, he scored 20, he struggled really hard, he fought hard to get that 20. But he wasn't able to convert it into a big score. But someone like a Virat was able to do so consistently and made sure he that he puts his team in a good position. And that we have seen is not just because of skill level but also the kind of mental ability that he has. by controlling all the distractions he was able to chanelise and made sure he is watching the ball to make sure he is doing all the right things on the pitch.
Are you seeing shades of the great Sachin Tendulkar in Virat Kohli?
I think you can't compare two people. It was a different era, I don’t think we need to compare. But he is certainly a great player in terms of numbers, Virat already has already 60 international hundreds, in such a short span of time, he is hungry we know he is extremely fit, and when he gets the opportunity he makes the best of it. And he makes it count. I think that is the ability Virat has had. And I don't think we should start comparing. He is a great player of the modern era. So let us just accept that and help him you know make him go out there and do his job for the team. Because it is just not about Virat, if you have to win a series it is also about the other players who are contributing and making sure that the team gets to a position of strength. We have seen that Virat has been consistently performing but so has Cheteshwar Pujara consistently performing. And I did say before the start of the series, yes with these two performing you can win a match. For you to win the series you want other players to consistently perform as well. And probably this is the time that the others lift their game, and perform for India to win this match and also win the series.
Were you impressed with the Indian cricketers playing aggressively against the Australians in this Test series?
Yes they did, we all know that Australia irrespective of the quality of the team or the opposition will come hard and probably the venue helped as well. It was the first Test in Perth and not just that particular ground. Perth in itself, has a huge legacy in Australia winning and really destroying the opposition. So maybe that jeered them up and certainly help them come together. There batting was a far better, they had control, they let the ball go, otherwise if you look at Adelaide, all their batsmen came and they made it look like that they are in a bit of hurry to get those runs. So they took their time and once you have a good opening partnership. That's what Finch managed. I mean although it wasn't a big partnership, but they had that opening partnership. Because that is very critical as well. Because when you fighting against a team which has high-quality opening bowlers, you need to get through that first session without losing too many wickets, that's what Australia did. And that's what exactly India were haven't able to do. If they can do that against Australia then they will be one up. The openers are the key, Australia will be certainly again if they want to go past India in Melbourne they will have to make sure they get a decent partnership at the start of the game.
What is your assessment of Nathan Lyon?
He is a fantastic spinner. He puts a lot of revolution on the ball, the ball dips. His line is impeccable to the right-handers he has the advantage of a Mitchell Starc bowling over the stumps, and then creating some sort of a rough, not necessarily he gets a lot of wickets from the rough. But that certainly puts a doubt in batsmen's mind, to play that ball or go for it. And he has been brilliant and from there he has the ability to take the ball on straight on and the ability to spin it from there. And the advantage Lyon has over the Indian batsman is because the openers are having a great start. The batsman and the middle order is always under pressure whenever he comes onto bowl. It is a bit different that's why I am a bit disappointed that Murali Vijay wasn’t able to convert that twenty and get onto a big score. He has the ability to take the spinners on, he is a good player. And he is an old-fashioned opening batsman who gets through the tougher part of the new ball and then goes after the spinners which he wasn’t able to. And that was the reason he was able to settle into a good line, good rhythm, because the Indian batsman were not able to take the Nathan Lyon on but high quality he has been consistently performing and everybody felt it would be Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins and Josh Hazlewood who would be the top wicket takers. But after the first two Tests, it is Nathan Lyon. It wasn't expected but credit to Nathan Lyon.
Why do you think that our Indian batsman aren’t playing properly against the Australian spinners?
Modern day players are constantly looking to attack the spinners. I mean as a bowler, you know, you are setting field, with a little bit of in-out field. You know as a spinner. So you don't get too many boundaries, and the modern day batsman is probably doesn't have the mindset, to play the waiting game, and then say OK, let me take a single, let me milk a spinner, rather than looking to hit the boundaries. The other factor is that is probably playing a key role is not enough international players play domestic cricket. You know when you play domestic cricket in the Ranji Trophy to come across as a minimum of two spinners, and you are constantly challenging to take the spinners on tough wickets. The wickets will be spinning there are times when there is a lot of rough, under prepared pitches, and those kind of opportunities and challenges one faces. So that’s why the Hanuma Viharis and the Cheteshwar Pujaras and to an extent Murali Vijay are really good playing spin because they play Ranji Trophies at certain times before the international Test matches so in that sense a combination of both. I think it is important for international players to play domestic cricket when the opportunity arises.
Assuming all the Indian cricket players are fit to play, which eleven players would you choose to play in Melbourne?
I would certainly have Mayank Agarwal in the eleven, I think it is nice to get a youngster, kind of energy that you need, we have seen Hanuma Vihari perform, we have seen Kuldeep Yadav perform, we have seen Rishabh Pant perform then why not have Mayank Agarwal in the mix, then the challenge, because I need five bowlers, because the fast bowlers are tired you won't go with any other fast bowlers to be playing so it would be Shami, Bumrah and Ishant these three fast bowlers need backing up, two spinners I would go with experience, Ashwin and Jadeja both can bat as well. So those are you bottom five. So you will go with Hanuma Vihari, try and push him up the order. And then have Pujara, Virat and Ajinkya and Rishabh Pant as your wicket-keeper.
The stumps mic has been turned on and the players are being heard. We have heard a lot of Rishabh Pant of late. As a player, a coach and someone who dabbles in broadcasting too, what’s your take on this, should this be permitted?
I think it is a debate which the broadcasters are currently on. I think as a player you are oblivious to all of this. You don't care who is looking at you, you don't know where the stump mic is. I think this will be discussed in the cricket committee meeting and I mean it is debatable. There are times when you wouldn't want what players say in a family room. And there are times when players get frustrated and say things on the field but then again when it is there it is also entertaining. There are times when there is a little bit of banter going on in the professional sports. It is the balance that one needs to look at. And I am sure it will work out there will be a balance in bringing these two homes of the viewers together. I am sure it will have its initial discussion and discourse. But eventually there will be a balance.
Are you sticking to 2-1 as far as your prediction for the series is concerned?
Yes, sticking to 2-1, because I think India still has a chance, you know to build on the first two Test matches. Second Test match the combination was a bit of lopsided, batting specially the lower order was fragile, So that is something that they need to plug in. If they do all of that India still has the upper hand. I mean the quality is still with India, Australia batting hasn't look formidable but the challenge is that India has given Australia a little bit of a foot in the door and the challenge is whether Australia will get in or India close the door, we will have to wait and see.
From your point of view, is there any similarity between a coach and a captain?
Could you explain us how each format of the cricket game is different from one another like from test cricket to T20 format?
From your point of view, is One Day international Cricket more of a physical challenge or a mental challenge?
How did you motivate yourself against someone who is at par your cricketing status or someone who is ahead of you?
How did you adapt yourself to the changes according to situations?
What steps do you think that should be taken by the Indian Cricket Team to strengthen the team more further?
How did you keep your cool even with all the noise coming from the crowd?
Why did you suddenly take the initiative of building health awareness?
It is certainly not sudden. Causes related to health are something that I have always been associated with, whether as a part of the cricket team that was involved in the pulse polio campaign; or from a personal perspective. I have been associated with health causes on a regular basis. Hence, when I was asked to be a brand ambassador for diabetes, I strongly felt that it was another opportunity to engage and create awareness about diabetes. Diabetes is a silent killer and awareness about the same is certainly lacking, hence, I felt there was a need for me to get involved and assist in creating the required awareness.
Why into diabetes and lifestyle?
I have seen people around me suffer from diabetes, particularly my mother. Even though she has managed it well, I have seen from close quarters how challenging it was for her to manage her condition on a daily basis. Hence, I have been witness to and understand the importance of managing's one lifestyle, exercising regularly, and being aware of one's diet to keep diabetes at bay.
How do you keep yourself healthy?
Since regular exercise and proper diet has been a part of my lifestyle since my cricket days, I continue to incorporate the same in my day-to-day life even now. It is challenging at time, especially while I am travelling, but my training gear and sports shoes are among the first things that go in my suitcase so that I can get in a good work out session wherever I am travelling.
What is your word of advice to the youngsters?
I would advice the youngsters to be a lot more active in their day-today life. I understand their lifestyle has changed a lot and that commuting is becoming harder by the day. New parents have to balance responsibilities at work and home. And a result of all these challenges, personal health is also taking a backseat. Also, as a youngster, one tends to believe that nothing will affect them at this stage, which might be true in the short run, but it is vital to sow the seed of being committed to daily physical exercise at this stage of their lives, as it will eventually be extremely beneficial as they grow older. It has been good to see that in recent years. People in Bengaluru have started taking a progressive initiative in regularly conducting and taking part in a marathon, cyclathon and other such sporting and fitness activities in the city.
What have been your big takeaways in these two months that you have been India’s head coach?
I have been part of sides where I have mentored/coached in the T20 game where things happen very quickly. But this was my first experience of a Test series and having a whole Test match unfold in front of you as a coach. So it was very different. It was a huge learning experience for me and the best part was the team was very welcoming. I have known all of them in various capacities, and when you win, things work very well. With this team it was very easy for me to settle in as well. You ask them whatever you want them to do and nobody complains, and that's a great thing to have.
Did you bowl a lot of overs in the West Indies?
Initially, at St Kitt's I probably got overexcited, pulled my calf and that put me back by three weeks! I was okay in the second half of the tour and I bowled quite a bit because I think the boys needed practice. [Getting] net bowlers is a challenge in the West Indies so yes, I rolled my arm.
Do you acknowledge your role as the coach of the Indian Cricket Team?
I spoke to everyone first, that no matter what I have done, it is all in the past. Now I am the coach, like an elder brother. I have the knowledge of being part of a team for 18 years and whatever learnings I have had, I have been able to share that. It will take some time for them to get comfortable and put an arm on my shoulder. I don't think stature will come in the way of them approaching me for any aspect of the game. I am certainly enjoying the interactions.
Did you also have to work hard as a coach to train the players?
As a player, I was probably different. I felt I wasn't the most talented. I had to work very hard, put in those long hours for me to be successful and be repetitive as a bowler. I understand the demands of international cricket and the expectations on all these players day in day out. So to be practical and ensure that these are realistic expectations. Every time you walk out on a cricket field you can't get a hundred or pick up five wickets. Those expectations will be there from the general public and just because I am coach, India can't win every game. But consistency is what I am looking at, and this team has shown a lot of consistency in the way they play and approach the game and also in the results in the recent past.
The five bowling strategy which you have committed to yourself would be used for India’s test cricket matches?
It is not mandatory that you look to play five bowlers. It depends on the opposition, the surface and what the team requires. If we believe that four bowlers are enough to pick up 20 wickets and you need that additional batsman in the team then we are open for that. It is not that the five-bowler theory is written in stone and we will approach every game like that. With four bowlers you can win a Test match. Every team you play has four bowlers and the fifth bowler you play is the allrounder who fills in ten to 15 overs for the other bowlers to come back again and pick wickets. The approach will certainly be to win every game you play.
Can you tell us the reason you put Ravichandran Ashwin on the batting line in the top 6 for the West Indies test series?
Obviously, Ashwin has shown in the past what he's capable of as a batsman. [Wriddhiman] Saha was batting at six and we felt that the pressure that he was getting under wasn't ideal for him. Someone like Ashwin can take that pressure off and then Saha can bat freely. Ashwin has shown what he's capable of. He's scored two hundred and made his mark at No. 6 whenever we played five bowlers.
So you never called up a curator to say that Listen, this is the kind of pitch I want when my team arrives to play a Test match?
No, it is the job of the curator. It is a given that home conditions will favour the home team where spin is a dominant force, but not where [from] the first ball you have dust coming off. In September, when we are playing, obviously there's a lot of rain leading up to the [home] series so we don't know what kind of wickets and how much sun these pitches have. It all boils down to what nature gives you and allows you to prepare rather than you and me or somebody telling the curator what needs to be done.
Do you believe India should play a certain way at home, unapologetically on certain kinds of pitches?
The focus somehow comes on the pitch whenever we play at home. When we play abroad, you don't really look at the pitch and you start blaming the batsman or bowler for not executing the skills on that particular pitch. When batsmen, bowlers and fielders execute skills to perfection in home conditions, then it is always the pitch that is helping you to achieve that, which is not right. Indian pitches will spin, that is a given. When it will spin is a matter of how the pitch has been prepared. I am someone who would rather talk about how the team has played rather than the pitch.
Do you believe the head coach should have a vote in selection?
It is important to be a part of the selection process. I always believe the captain is the boss. Your job as coach is to prepare the team to the best they can be in whatever conditions and whichever the opposition. At the end of the day it is the captain's call. You assist and give him all the informed choices for him to make the right judgement. I don't think the coach is the boss.
How important was the synergy between you and Rahul Dravid in finding a deep bench strength?
That is one of the things I initiated as soon as I became the coach. For the Indian team to be successful you need the India A, Under-19, the bench strength, the National Cricket Academy and the selection committee to be in sync. I was really appreciative of the BCCI because at short notice they were able to put together all of us in one room to discuss this. That was the first meeting and I am sure we will have another one soon. I am really glad the A team has won the quadrangular tournament in Australia. It is important that the next set of players are coming through that system and no better person than Rahul to look after them. The communication between us is really important, so that's something that we will continue to have through these meetings. A strong bench will determine how successful you will be over a consistent period of time.
Could you explain as to why did you ask several players to be a part of the NCA?
We are very clear about fitness. I certainly believe you need to be at your best fitness to perform at the international level. It is not necessary that you need to be at someone else's fitness level, but your own peak fitness should be maintained. And if we can set a team benchmark and start pushing that benchmark over a period of time, it needs a one- or two-year horizon for everybody to start matching up and measuring up to a certain level. For that to happen you need assessments to be done. That was one of the reasons I wanted all of us to put together a squad of players who will come here and get assessed. I was really glad that most of them turned up and have been assessed. Now we will continue to monitor that. Before every series we will try to have fitness tests and try and monitor the progress. If you are playing 13 Test matches you need to be at your fittest to go through that.
Do you see one of your challenges as handling the transition of MS Dhoni, who is coming into the squad for short bursts and then leaves for long periods?
No, I don't see it as a challenge at all because MS has been with this team much longer than me. He knows all the players much better than how I know them. I have only been with this team for the last two months. I have known him as a player, captain, he kept wicket for me. The first interaction that I was supposed to have with MS was in October. It got fast-tracked to Florida, but that was only brief. I enjoyed meeting him. His maturity is fantastic. He's very clear as to what he wants as a captain. That was the initial reaction that I had when I first had a chat with him regarding the team and everything he wanted.
How was your experience with T20 cricket?
Would the craze for T20 Cricket still have been the same in India had we not won the inaugural T20 World Cup in 2007?
What kind of an impact has the T20 format and the IPL, which is a shining example of the craze for the 20 overs format, had on cricket in general?
Do you think ODIs and Test match cricket are being ignored by the younger generation in favour of T20 cricket?
Why do you think the appeal for domestic cricket in general is less than the IPL?
Being in the Technical Committee of the ICC, you had quite an insight into the way the ICC operates. Can you tell us what kind of matters were given importance to in meetings?
Do you think the younger generation of cricketers focus solely on playing in the IPL to earn quick bucks instead of trying to create a long lasting career for themselves?
Can we take T20 Cricket to non-cricket-playing countries?
Why isn’t cricket popular in countries like the USA?
What are your side projects post retirement?
Are we currently lacking world class bowlers? Or are the batsmen just too good?
How has playing T20 changed the mindset of cricketers approaching Test cricket?
How do you tackle corruption in a cash flushed event like the IPL?
How did the ICC tackle the growth of using smaller bats by batsmen which was a cause of concern among the bowlers?
Has the IPL decreased the animosity among countries?
What are your thoughts about this type of change in the fandom brought upon by the IPL?
From a player’s perspective how does changing one franchise for another feel like?
You are only the second Bowler in Cricket history after Jim Laker to take 10 wickets in an innings. How did it feel when you received such an honour?
Were you ever superstitious on the field?
How do you look back at when you were on your 9th wicket during your 10 wicket haul against Pakistan in 1999, the then captain Mohammad Azharuddin, advised all other bowlers to aim at anything except the stumps so that you could have your 10 wicket haul?
Was the dismissal of 10th wicket the most pressure ridden?
You were on the opposite side of the fulcrum when you were asked to bowl badly so that Kapil Dev could get a record 431st wicket. How was that experience?
The legendary Leg Spinner Mr. B. S. Chandrasekhar coached you for a month during your U-15 days. How much of your development do you owe to him?
You started out as a medium pace bowler until your brother advised you to ditch that and go for leg spin. What made him give you advice like that?
When you made your debut alongside Javagal Srinath, did you in your wildest imagination wonder that the two of you would become such integral parts of the Indian bowling attack for years to come?
What kind of difficulties do players have to deal with when they are dropped from a match?
You were dropped just a month or two after your ten wicket haul against Pakistan in 1999. Did that leave a lingering feeling of unfair treatment in you?
Did the determination to prove doubters wrong help you keep your aim steady?
Where did your nickname “Jumbo” come from?
What do think of your bowling?
Did you ever feel underappreciated because of being criticized unfairly by the media?
Prior to 2003, you had never made a century in your international career. Was it the pressure of being a bowler or the lack of opportunities that stopped you from achieving it?
What do you have to say about your being portrayed as a shy and reserved person in general?
Your teammates say that you used to bottle up your emotions. Is that true?
What made you take up the role of administration in the Karnataka Cricket Board?
How difficult has your administrative role been?
How do you think Indian cricket has reacted to the retirement of players from your generation like Ganguly, Dravid, Laxman and some other big names?
What improvement did you bring in as the head of the Karnataka Cricket Association?
How did the retirement decision come about for you?
Do you think picking senior players in the team should be a priority?
You were in the Indian squad for the World Cup in 2007, but you didn’t get many chances to play. Looking back at that, do you think it would have been better for you if you had not gone with them in the first place?
What are your views on the media using the captain as a scapegoat to justify the poor performance of a team?
How does pressure affect an individual’s performance?
What mindset should a team have when playing?
Do you think favouritism plays a part in selecting players, like giving chances to poorly performing players just because they’re household names?
What are your views on opposition spinners outperforming Indian spinners on foreign soil?
What is important in winning Test Match cricket?
What can the younger generation of bowlers do to improve their bowling?
Do you think India isn’t producing good spin bowlers anymore?
Is there a chance of spin bowling dying out in the future because of the shorter formats?
What is in store for spin bowling in the future according to you?
Maiden overs are a rare sight these days. How important are they in shaping an innings?
What kind of a coach did you intend to be?
How much has cricket changed since your debut?
How tough is it for players who have played Tests and ODIs for the major part of their career to adjust to T20s?
How can a young cricketer motivate himself to perform better?
What advice would you give to youngsters who try to copy the styles of already successful players?
How did you maintain your composure on the field?
Which aspect of bowling is helpful in dismissing a batsman? Spin, swing, turn or bounce?
How was the competition with Shane Warne and Muttiah Muralitharan?
What was your approach to bowling in overseas conditions?
Did you ever feel underappreciated in your career?
Do you regret any situation in your career where you think you could have done better?
Which current cricketer do you see yourself the most in?
How was it like being compared with other Orthodox spinners when you bowled your entire career as an Unorthodox spinner who didn’t turn the ball much?
Did you ever try to change your action and bowl orthodox spin?
How did you deal with criticism as a youngster?
What are some batting performances that you look back at with pride?
What do you make of the current bunch of spinners who aren’t as amazing as you or your generation of spinners?
Do you think that pitches being made to suit fast bowlers are the reason why spinners are not fulfilling their potential?
At what stage of your career did you realise you were actually a good cricketer, a good bowler?
How did you balance your education and your career?
Do you think youngsters should keep personal milestones or records in their heads while playing?
Which moments in your career were the most difficult to deal with?
Did you ever doubt your ability to continue playing when you were sidelined due to an injury?
How can we make sure all three formats of cricket survive?
How has the IPL changed the mindset of the upcoming generation of cricketers?
You have always been known as a player who hated to lose. How did that mentality of yours transition into your captaincy?
You published a book on Photography called “Wide Angle”. How did you take up photography as a hobby?
What is your association with Wildlife Preservation given how you adopted a giraffe calf not so long ago?
Did you ever in your wildest of imaginations think that you would have such an illustrious career when you made your debut?
I didn't think I would get this far. But I always had the belief that I was capable of playing for India and performing well, although many did not agree with me at that point of time. It doesn't seem that long ago, although when you look back it has been a long time ago since I first walked out to play Test cricket at Old Trafford. I feel satisfied that I have accomplished what I set out to do.
What kind of difficulties does a bowler face according to you?
As a bowler you are not a hero, you are always backing a hero, but you need 20 wickets to win a Test match. In India you pick teams based on pitches, so it's the bowlers who get changed. If it is a turning pitch a fast bowler can't play, and if it is a green pitch, a spinner can't play. So you expect the batsmen to get accustomed or adapt to any kind of pitch whereas you don't expect bowlers to adapt to conditions.
Do you think bowlers are treated unfairly during selection on the context of them not being able to perform overseas?
You should pick your four best bowlers if you want to play four. When you pick batsmen you do not choose on the basis that he cannot play outside India, or he cannot play on a fast wicket, or on a turning track. You pick on the belief that they can adjust. You do not choose a batsman according to the wicket. You should not do that for a bowler as well. You should choose someone who will adapt. And that will give him confidence. It is all about confidence in this game.
How different or similar is working with an administrative team to working in cricket?
It is very different. I am hands-on, and to some it looks maybe dictatorial. You have to push people if you have to get things done. It's not easy to get things done and you can't do it remote-control. We wanted to put in a system in place in the Karnataka State Cricket Association where irrespective of who the leader is, the process should continue.
What qualities does one need to be a cricket administrator in India?
The basic tenet is for you to serve. If you have that thought, anybody can do this. You need to sacrifice. Three years is a lot. I was still actively playing the IPL when the Karnataka State Cricket Association elections came around. I could have been in the auction and captained one of the teams. At least couple of franchises had sounded me out since I was in the auction and I was not retained, saying we'll be going after you in the auction, would you be open to captaining the team? I kept my answer to: "Look, I don't know". Once I got elected, I decided the KSCA post was something I had to commit to, so I pulled out of the auction. Today, whatever I am is because of the game and what it has given me. This was probably my time to repay it, and I think that both Sri [Javagal Srinath] and I have certainly done that.
Do you believe Indian players should form a players’ association?
I think you need a players' voice as long as that voice is heard. You don't need an association or a group of people to demonstrate and vote for someone as a leader. As long as there is enough appreciation of the players, which there is, it's fine. The reason we formed an association a few years ago was because there had been a bit of start-stop years ago, so we thought that it was good to have some kind of momentum going. When, at the time, I put everything across the table to the board, it was accepted. Then there was no need to continue it. If it had to continue, it had to have people who had retired to support it, and it's not easy to do. It's not easy for you to drive it. Largely though, whatever initiatives players were suggesting, you listed it out and all of them had been accepted.
Are you in support of Day/Night Test Match Cricket?
I would certainly back Day/Night Test cricket. Anything we need to do to get crowd back to Test cricket... At least that is the future. In Day/Night matches, people can come to the stadium after office hours.
What role does a coach play?
You are not only a coach on the cricket field, but I believe you are a coach off it also. A coach's job is to try and build personalities as well as leaders. There are wonderful talents and they can make leaders out of them. It's not a quick fix. There will not always be highs but one will see lows too. You can't only be a coach during successful times but you also have to be a coach during the tough phases.