Having played with and against Anil Kumble over the years, I can say with some authority he’ll be a fighter and won’t give up, irrespective of the situation. You think of Kumble and the image of him bowling with a fractured jaw comes to mind. Those who know him can confirm he’s always been a man with strong views, who isn’t shy to express them in the dressing room. His achievements would automatically ensure immense respect from the young team, which is imperative for a new entrant in any dressing room.
The days of having a coach who is extremely hands-on and does everything on his own are history, for we live in the day and age of specialised coaching. John Wright used to be the batting, bowling, fielding coach and also the chief tactician, but that’s not the case anymore. The head coach’s role comes with the luxury of appointing specialised coaches of his choice and that will be Kumble’s topmost priority. Eventually, he’ll be as good as the coaching staff he chooses. His primary role will be to outline the broad strategy and keeping the flock together. Anyone who’s played cricket with him would tell you that he’s been a master strategist, for all his wickets came courtesy a lot of planning. In any case, I strongly feel that bowlers tend to strategise better than batsmen.
Strive for excellence
All his life, Kumble did just one thing: challenged conventional wisdom and proved people wrong. People said that since he couldn’t turn the ball as much as other leg-spinners, he would fade away. But he proved that perseverance and accuracy can make up for the lack of turn and drift. Then naysayers said that he’s a home-track bully and that led him to reinvent his style in the latter half of his career. Kumble has always been driven by the quest to become better and if he could inculcate the same in the Indian team, this bunch will become the best in the world. With Kumble at the helm, there will be no scope for mediocrity to survive or thrive, for he’ll either force them to improve or show them the door. Also, he’d always make sure that players, especially the captain, views the other side of the coin too. While he would never be at loggerheads with the captain, he wouldn’t be a yes-man either.
While no one can dispute Kumble’s credentials as a player, there’s nothing that we know of his coaching abilities. Does he have the temper to swallow elementary errors to maintain a healthy atmosphere? Does he speak the language everybody understands, for some would need an arm around their shoulder and some would demand their screws tightened up. Will he be a great man-manager, because that’s going to be his primary responsibility. Since there’s nothing concrete to answer these questions, it’s only prudent to tread carefully. But I don’t think he has been given a one-year term because they are unsure of his abilities. Perhaps this is to give him time. For all we know, he might want to relinquish this responsibility after 12 months.
The BCCI has picked the best. Let’s hope he also turns out be as good a coach as he was a player.