Kumble lauded the Indian team and said he had every confidence they would acquit themselves well in what is a tough year of away tours – to South Africa, England and Australia. ©SWAB

Kumble lauded the Indian team and said he had every confidence they would acquit themselves well in what is a tough year of away tours – to South Africa, England and Australia. ©SWAB

Anil Kumble had generous words of praise for Virat Kohli and the Indian team, predicting that the side would go on to “create history” on their upcoming tour of South Africa which starts in the first week of January 2018.

Kumble, till recently the coach of the side, quit after the Champions Trophy 2017 after a remarkably successful year at the helm over differences with Kohli, and had released a statement then saying that his relationship with the captain had become ‘untenable’.

However, on Saturday (December 16), when Kumble was presented with the Coach of the Year award at the ACT annual Sports Writers Association of Bangalore (SWAB) awards, the former coach and captain lauded the Indian team and said he had every confidence they would acquit themselves well in what is a tough year of away tours – to South Africa, England and Australia.

Full list of winners:
Best sportsperson of the year (Male): Sunil Chhetri (football)
Best sportsperson of the year (female): Aditi Ashok (golf)
Team of the year: Bengaluru Football Club
Coach of the year: Anil Kumble (cricket)
Lifetime Achievement Award: MP Ganesh (hockey)
Best junior sportsperson of the year (male): Arjun Maini (motor racing)
Best junior sportsperson of the year (female): Damini Gowda (swimming)
Association of the year: Karnataka Badminton Association
Behind the scenes award: K Sriram (Karnataka State Cricket Association)

“I think coaches in cricket don’t have too much to say or too much to do. But nonetheless this is an excellent recognition of all the good work that the team did over the past one year and they have continued with their winning ways,” said Kumble while accepting the award.

“I’m confident that the team which we have will certainly go on to create history in South Africa and then beyond. That’s the confidence I have, and I’m sure the team under Virat certainly has the capabilities to achieve that and continue all the good work they have been doing.”

Kumble also gave credit to the support staff he had with the Indian team and the players themselves for the results achieved, which included a Test series win in the Caribbean followed by home Test series wins against New Zealand, England, Bangladesh and Australia and then the run to the Champions Trophy final.

“This wouldn’t have happened without the support group, all the support team that I had over the past year has been exceptional,” he said. “So thanks to them, thanks to the members of the team. And congratulations to all the winners. SWAB has continued to recognise and encourage talent here in Karnataka. Without their support – I was one of the award winners very early in my cricketing career, and that certainly helped me to move onwards. Also, the recognition that you receive from sports writers, because they see you grow from an early age… I remember journalists who are sitting here, watched me from my school cricket right up to retirement and also the other roles I have taken up after that. It’s wonderful what SWAB has been doing and I hope you continue to do that.”

Kumble also had words of praise for the journalist fraternity in Bangalore and Karnataka, saying that as a group, they had largely steered clear of innuendo and speculation and focussed on facts instead. “The other thing I’ve been proud of, which the majority of sports writers who are all sitting here do, is that in this day and age when the narratives are generally through hearsay, ‘sources’ and sometimes speculation – they still do a job without fear or favour. And they do a fantastic job on that. Congratulations to all of you.”

The chief guest at the ACT-SWAB awards was Abhinav Bindra, India’s only individual gold medalist at the Olympics, and in a speech laced with dry wit, Bindra emphasised that in the relationship between athletes and journalists, while athletes might expect the press to be kind or gentle, it was not the sports writers’ job to be kind – it was their job to be fair.