It was during India’s tour Down Under in 2007-08 that skipper Anil Kumble shook the cricketing world by alleging that “only one team played in the spirit of the game”. Clearly, the Indian skipper was hinting at how Australians used all the dirty tricks on the field and created a scandal like ‘Monkeygate’ to ensure victory over India in Sydney.
Kumble was known for his straight talk then, and he is still the same as the chief coach of Team India. When the allegations of ball tempering were levelled against skipper Virat Kohli out of nowhere, simply to tag it along with South African skipper Faf du Plessis, Kumble dismissed them.”First of all, I don’t want to react to any report that is there in the media. Why unnecessarily giving wind to such stories when neither the umpire nor the match referee ever came to us talking about it,” said Kumble here on Thursday, clarifying his and the team’s stand in the entire lollygate episode.
It all started after a British tabloid published footage of Kohli applying saliva to the ball during the first Test in Rajkot. The International Cricket Council has a clear policy or rule about any such complaints. The visiting team or the match referee had to bring it to ICC’s knowledge within a window of five days.
“There is nothing to worry about. People can allege and write whatever they want in the media. As far as we are concerned, none of our players were a part of such activity,” Kumble said.
Kumble defends Faf
Not stopping there, Kumble defended SA captain Du Plessis (who was fined 100 per cent of his match fee) and hailed his team for playing “exceptional cricket” in the ongoing Test series against Australia.
“South Africa has played exceptional cricket to beat Australia 2-0 and for Faf du Plessis, to be told that ball tampering, it is very silly. It’s making a mountain out of a molehill,” came the praise.
All in all, Kumble tried to put the focus back on cricket. Having played at the highest level for over 15 years, the legendary spinner do know how “cricketers will continue to chew gum in the times to come”. Or for that matter “how could a field umpire or rule can stop player from using sun cream”?
Proud bowling unit
Meanwhile, Kumble showered praise on the Indian bowling attack for showing tremendous character during the series so far.
“Very impressed with how our bowlers have bowled. Like I said at the start of the series, the bowlers have been brilliant. It was not easy because they have bowled about close to 240 overs in Rajkot and then within three days they bowled almost 200 overs in the last Test,” reasoned Kumble.
He particularly chose rookie offie Jayant Yadav, who bagged three wickets in the second innings and also made critical contribution with the bat down the order, for his performance in his debut Test. “In the interactions that I have had, he comes across as a very balanced person. He contributed with the bat, he contributed with the ball. Probably he had a dream debut,” said Kumble.
Certainly, Yadav can’t ask for more. Coming into the squad as second offie, in the shadow of established Ravichandran Ashwin, this Haryana lad showed a lot of character and that’s what has won him so much of praise by a legend like Kumble.
“It really augurs well for Indian cricket that someone who has just come into the team has really showed that kind of an approach,” added the coach.
On his thoughts about the slow Mohali surface, the Indian coach asserted that team is not worried about the pitch here. “It has certainly gone a lot slower to what probably it used to be in the 1990s. Forget conditions, we need to play good cricket,” he added.