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Kumble wants Indian bowlers to think as leaders

Anil Kumble

Bengaluru : Presenting a fair idea of his leadership style in the role of India coach, Anil Kumble today said he will try to inculcate self belief in his bowlers as he wants them to develop as leaders.

Kumble, himself an inspiring figure in his playing days, today had his first interaction with the players after taking over as chief coach as the training camp for the West Indies tour began here.

“I will try and observe how the team is shaping up and at this point in time, I would like to look at the bowlers. That is something I am looking at…get closer to the bowlers and understand what their needs are and then probably looking at bringing in a fast bowling coach. That is a consideration I am thinking of. Bowling is one area where I can contribute,” Kumble said at a press conference.

“When I was a player, I used to feel that you are the captain of your own bowling, which I would like to try and inculcate, especially in the bowling group. That is important. All of them must believe that they are leaders,” he added.

The former India captain, who ended his career as the third-highest wicket taker in the world, said he understands the role of a mentor and insisted he would be quietly helping the playing by staying in the background.

“Looking at the challenges in the field, I will try to prepare the team. We, the support staff would be working in the background. Players will be in the front. I have been the player and now I am the coach, so I understand both the roles well. It is a different role and I certainly understand the role,” he said.

“The role of staying in the background and it is the captain who takes all the calls on the field. I can only assist him in giving him whatever necessary informations in terms of strategy, be it preparation. And whatever experience I have as a captain and player,” Kumble added.

The 45-year-old new coach said that it was important to communicate with all the players, including the ones who would not make it to the playing XI.

“It’s the captain who is incharge. As a coach I need to organise preparations for the team and giving informed input to captain and the team to strategise better, inclusive of every player. It’s not just 11 who are going to play but also six or seven who are not going to play.

“I was dropped and not chosen for a tour, I understan being the most important member of the team to be dropped. I understand that communications during such times is critical for a coach to pick up the phone and say ‘dont worry’. Hopefully I will succeed in communicating with the players.”

Asked to comment on how different it is to be a player and now coach, he said, there’s not much to differentiate.

“There are boundaries as a coach but other than there is no difference. These are exciting times (for Indian cricket) and you have to be a part of that journey. It was no different walking into the meeting room with the entire team. I had met a lot of them in various capacity.”

Kumble also said he has a very clear idea about the demands of the modern game.

“Fortunate thing is I have been close to the game in various capacities. So I know what is the thinking for future, what youngsters are looking at. I have travelled with players in IPL, so I understand. I am close to the modern game. I am parent of teenage. I can blend my experiences putting across to the youngsters today. Communication is required and I can do that,” said the bowling great.

Kumble exuded confidence of getting good results during the West Indies tour, where the team plays a four-Test series.

“Last time we went to West Indies, we had won the series 3-0, so we will take that confidence into the upcoming series. Indian team has been doing well in Tests. We have good chance of winning the series in West Indies and we will go there to win,” said the former skipper.

“Last time when we won the series, Ishant (Sharma) was man of the series. Virat, Murali Vijay and Amit Mishra also did well, so there is a bit of experience of those conditions. I have also been there before so I will also contribute.

“West Indies is always a tough team at home, although they are more formidable in the shorter format. However, conditions there is similar to India and the team is pretty geared up to live up to the challenge,” said Kumble.

The spin-legend said he would look to live to the expectations as a coach.

“I feel this team is very talented. One thing I will ensure is that whether we win or lose, the fighting spirit should always be there.”

He said he was looking forward to working with both Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Virat Kohli.

“It was good initial interaction with the players, very welcoming. I also had a talk with MS after the Zimbabwe tour. Am looking forward to working with both MS and Virat.”

Asked what has changed since he quit in 2008, Kumble said: “Fielding of course. That probably stands out. Excellent to the see the agility and the fitness levels now.

“Also, now the average age is 25, 26, and they already have experience of playing at highest level. Virat has played close to 40 Test matches and he is just 27, Ishant 60. So there is experience and youth. Nice to see that mix. Some of them are in the making of becoming great players.”

Kumble said he would do everything to ensure that Test cricket survives.

“Whatever it takes to popularise Test cricket, I am for it. We will play 17 Test matches in the next 12 months. That shows how important Test cricket is. Talking to the players I realised how much importance they give to Test cricket,” he concluded.

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