Travelling to Perth after Monkeygate in 2008
You know as a captain you're generally tuned to take decisions on the field. Here I was faced with something, which was off the field, to take a decision in the larger interest of the game. And one of our players [Harbhajan Singh] was obviously banned for three matches because of a racist remark - that was what the pronouncement was and we appealed. I felt he was wronged. We had to obviously be together as a team but the challenge was that there was a lot of talk about the team wanting to come back at that point in time, and leave the tour and come back. Yes, you know, probably [people] would have accepted that the Indian team was wronged and that's why they came back.
But I think as a captain, or as a team, we had gone there to win the series. Unfortunately, with the first two results not going our way, the best result could have been a drawn series because two more Test matches remained and I just wanted to rally around the team. I was fortunate enough to have senior players, former captains, in the team.
We got around as a unit and then we sort of took a decision to continue and make sure that we go on and win the next couple of matches because that would be the best message that we can give back to our fans. Because whenever an Indian team travels abroad, the fans expect the team to do really well and win the series. I certainly believe that we had the ability to do that.
"In 2001-02, the famous Australia series [in India], that was the first time that suddenly things changed. That irrespective of what the situation is, we can certainly win from any situation. And then the Headingley Test match in 2002, that again changed the way we sort of thought about exploring Test matches and similarly the Perth Test match"
I think you need to have clarity of thought when you are encountered with such situations and I had extreme clarity that no matter what, if I win the toss I'm going to bat first because that's the best way of winning the Test match. The only thought to me was how can I win this Test match, what's the best way of putting pressure? In fact, when I went out to toss, just a few minutes before… there are a lot of former cricketers as commentators hanging around near the pitch, and some of them said it's a field-first pitch. So I said, "okay, that's your way of thinking, but I'm going to bat first no matter what". So we batted first. Rahul [Dravid] batted really well and Irfan [Pathan] had a great game in that in that Test match. RP Singh bowled brilliantly. And then Viru [Virender Sehwag] got those couple of breakthroughs in the second innings. So beating Australia in Perth, I think, changed the entire way that we sort of looked at… In 2001-02, the famous Australia series [in India], that was the first time that suddenly things changed. That irrespective of what the situation is, we can certainly win from any situation. And then the Headingley Test match in 2002, that again changed the way we sort of thought about exploring Test matches and similarly the Perth Test match. Irrespective of what the sort of lead up to that Test was, outside of the game itself I think this team just came together. We were really strong as a unit and it showed on the field as well.
Returning after shoulder surgery, away record
I think, you know, I always had the belief that I can go out there and do well. You know, although people sort of have have their own views about what you can do, what you can't do. People believe that I needed doctored pitches in India to perform, and I won't perform outside of India. It's not easy performing on any surface. Whether in India or outside, it takes time for you to mature, for you to understand the conditions and then make subtle changes in your game to up your skill to be able to perform there. So even I had those challenges and I had to make sure that I would be able to adapt to those kind of situations. So yeah, I mean there were a few situations like the shoulder surgery which I guess it was like you just have to go through it as a professional cricketer.
It was tough being out of the game for almost a year, it took me almost three months to lift my hand up, and those were testing times when you start thinking whether you can come back and play, whether you can bowl the way you were bowling before. So all those negative thoughts keep coming and that's where the family and the friends that you have close to you certainly help. Their support really is important. So for me it was that kind of a situation.
Monkey off the back
And then when I went to Australia , where I didn't play the first Test [in Brisbane], and then I barely made it to the second Test match in Adelaide. End of day one, Australia were 400 for four [400 for 5] or something like that, and I had one for 100 [1 for 115] or something. It was a very flat deck, and when I came back [from the ground] that evening I realised, "look it doesn't really matter, I know there's been a lot of talk about this, perhaps could be my last chance, If I can perform then I'll continue to play". So I just took the pressure off me saying, "look it doesn't matter if this could be my last game, but let me go out there and enjoy, and bowl differently, and set different fields".
"It was tough being out of the game for almost a year, it took me almost three months to lift my hand up, and those were testing times when you start thinking whether you can come back and play, whether you can bowl the way you were bowling before." Anil Kumble
You know the googly was getting bounce, and the batsmen were not picking that well. So when I went into the second day, I knew that they would be going for runs, and if I can pick up a couple of wickets then the pressure will be back on the batting side. So I set fields like how you set for an off-spinner. I had a short midwicket, a square leg, a short leg, and then even sometimes a backward short leg, and then bowled a lot of googlies, and picked up a fifer [5 for 154] in that first innings.
On surviving the Tsunami in 2004
We were staying at Fisherman's Cove [in Chennai]. It was my wife and I and our son - just the three of us. My son was about eight-nine-ten months old and we traveled by air. We didn't want to drive down because it would take six hours and we didn't want my son to travel that long. We enjoyed a holiday and the day the tsunami happened, we were leaving, so I was to check out early because we had, I think, a 11.30 flight.
Somehow, you know my wife, kept waking up that night very uneasy. She kept waking me up saying, "look, what's the time?" "I'm not feeling well I'm feeling a bit uneasy." So we woke up early, we had a coffee looking at the sea. Everything was calm, it was cloudy.
[...] we went to the breakfast area and as you're aware, the breakfast area is slightly at an elevation. And we were having breakfast probably when the first wave hit. I was not even aware that this had happened.
As we were checking out I saw a young couple in their bathrobes, you know literally drenched, and they were shivering.
I couldn't make out what it was. We just walked out and sat in the car. [...] After Fisherman's Cove there's a bridge, and I could literally touch the water because the level of the water was barely one foot from the bridge and it was frothing.
We could see a lot of people, you know how you see in the movies, where people carry whatever they can and walking with pots and pans, kids on their shoulder and whatever bags they could have.
Our driver kept getting calls on his phone then we asked him to focus on driving, but he kept saying [in Tamil] that there's a lot of water everywhere.
When I came back to Bangalore and then switched on the television that's when I realized that a tsunami had happened so we were totally unaware as to what had happened.
A couple of years back I met the [hotel] manager [he said] once we passed the bridge, the second wave which came, I believe, submerged the bridge. So we were probably destined and saved just in the nick of time.
She [Kumble's wife] did tell she saw god in her dream. I said okay that's fine. You can't really relate to that. But now, yes, you can you can relate to what she said. Maybe, you know, all these things certainly there was a divine blessing on us to make it.