BENGALURU: The first thing that comes to mind when one thinks of Anil Kumble is the image of him bowling with a broken jaw against the West Indies. That was way back in 2002, in Antigua.
Kumble will be back in the West Indies again. This time for a four-Test series as the coach of the Indian team, his first such tour. In preparation for the sojourn, the Indian team began a six-day cricket camp at the National Cricket Academy in the city on Wednesday. Kumble stated that the plan was to have two sessions a day — outdoor ones if the weather permitted. There could also be a practice match at the Alur Grounds.
Kumble termed the indoor session conducted on Wednesday as a “welcome meeting”. “I spoke of how much of a privilege it is to be a part of the team again, and also the fact that I can share my experiences with them. In the next 5-6 days, there will be a lot of interactions. I also spoke to MS (Dhoni) after he came back from Zimbabwe. Though it was on the phone, we spoke at length. I’m looking forward to working with both MS and Virat (Kohli).”
The 45-year-old is quite upbeat about India’s chances in West Indies. “We won there the last time. We will take that confidence with us. This team has done very well in Tests. I’m just trying to get used to the players in this camp.
“Practice will be a problem due to rain, but I believe this is a very good chance for us to win the series,” said Kumble in his first press conference after taking over as coach.
Recalling the Antigua Test, Kumble remarked that he was intent on channeling the grit he’d exhibited during that match for steering the Indian team.
“That killer instinct will show from my efforts, and we’ll prepare as well as possible. I will keep in mind problems and challenges on the field. I believe that the job of the support group, coaching staff and the rest of the support is to work in the background. The captain and players will be in the forefront.
“The player that I was and the coach that I am, I fully understand both roles and responsibilities. I believe this team is very talented and I will also share my experience. Win or lose, the fighting spirit will always be there.”
Regarding the absence of a bowling coach, Kumble said, “We are considering options. I’d like to observe, try and see how the team shapes up. I thought that with bowlers, it is strategy I can help better. At this point, I don’t know if it will be possible to take someone to the West Indies. If it doesn’t happen, then I am keen to look after the bowlers because I can contribute a lot more.”
The team has very few players who have played in the Caribbean. “Only four players have been to the West Indies, and we are trying to address that. There is some experience and I have also been there before. West Indies is always a tough team at home and there have been changes. They are more formidable in the shorter formats, but the conditions there are not dissimilar as compared to the ones here.”