Since Anil Kumble stepped down as coach of the Indian team under controversial circumstances earlier this year, he has maintained a dignified silence on the matter.
But, during an interaction with Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella on Tuesday (November 7) about his recently released book Hit Refresh, Kumble showed that he could look back at the episode with a touch of humour.
At an event in New Delhi, Nadella asked Kumble about the values his parents had passed on and the former Indian captain replied: “The self-belief. It comes from the values that you inculcate, looking up to your parents and grandparents.
“My grandfather was a headmaster in school and I know that term kept coming back to me later in my career,” said Kumble, adding for good measure, “Some of them here will understand (what I am talking about).” One of the implied issues with the alleged displeasure of some of the players of the Indian team when Kumble was in charge was his insistence on discipline, which led to the term ‘headmasterly’ being bestowed on him.
Kumble also elaborated about some of his own “hit refresh” moments in his international career, singling out the 2003-04 Australia tour which ended with the teams drawing the four-Test series 1-1.
The selectors weren’t too impressed with Kumble’s performance outside of India and had picked Harbhajan Singh ahead of him in the first Test in Brisbane. An injury, however, cut short Harbhajan’s tour and Kumble was drafted in for the second match in Adelaide.
“As a cricketer, you have to hit refresh literally at the end of every series,” he suggested. “Challenges from one series to another are different. But I would like to mention the Australia tour in 2003-04 when I was at the crossroads of my career.
“I was competing for a place in the XI (with Harbhajan). People had started talking about my retirement as I was in my 30s. I got an opportunity in the Adelaide Test, which we famously won.”
Kumble recalled how the pressure was immense after the opening day. “I took a beating that day, conceded 100 runs for just a wicket (Justin Langer) and Australia were 400 for 5,” he said. “We had done so well to draw the first Test, and now they are running away with the second one.
“I decided to do something different, to bowl a different type of googly which I had practised during my tennis-ball days. I hadn’t quite perfected it, but now was an opportunity to try it out. I set an offspinner’s field and kept bowling the googlies. In the end, I snared my first five-for in Australia, which gave me a lot of confidence, and we won the Test.”
Not only that, Kumble ended the series as the highest wicket-taker across both teams, with 24 wickets in three games at 29.58.
Ever the team man, Kumble selected the 2001 series when India won 2-1 over Australia at home — a series he wasn’t a part of — as the country’s biggest ‘hit refresh’ moment.
“The best part of playing in the ‘90s was that we almost won everything at home,” he offered. “But if you have to pick one ‘hit refresh’ moment, it was the Australia-India series in 2001. I did not take part in that due to injury. That was the time when the team realised its true potential. Since then, Indian cricket has gone from strength to strength and we are No. 1 at the moment.”