Spin legend Anil Kumble said India became a sporting nation only in the last decade and other sports should take a cue from cricket as to how to market the game in every nook and corner of the country.
“For years, we thought we were a sporting nation but had little to show. In the last decade, India’s sporting success has changed all that,” Kumble said while giving the MAK Pataudi Lecture here on Wednesday.
Kumble said not just cricket, but the success of athletes in other sports have helped India become a sporting nation.
“The improved performances at the Commonwealth Games, London Olympics and world tournaments by chess, billiards, snooker, badminton and tennis players are evidence of the progress we have made,” he said. The leg-spinning great, however, said other sporting federations should follow the BCCI when it comes to promoting their respective games.
“The other sports can take a cue from cricket. A generation ago, if anybody had suggested that a player from Ranchi would lead India, he would have been laughed at,” said Kumble, while referring to Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s success story.
During the lecture, Kumble also recalled the comment Pataudi made about him when he was beginning his international career. “In 1990, as a teenager, I took my first step in cricket and was eager for some kind words in the cricketing world. It was then I came across a comment from an accomplished Indian cricketer. I quote: ‘This lad, I don’t see him winning a Test match for India, either at home or abroad. He rarely turns the ball, at best he can be restrictive.’
“This assessment came from Mr. Mansur Ali Khan Pataudi. Two decades of international cricket and 619 Test wickets later, it is indeed a great honour to address this lecture,” Kumble said.
“If I had confronted Mr. Pataudi on his comment, I am confident that he would have had a good laugh. He had a good sense of humour. He is capable of taking a joke on himself. In cricket, perceiving is believing.
“The first question I was asked on my retirement was how it felt to finish with 619 wickets without spinning the ball. I said it is nice that it took 18 years to realise that,” Kumble said.
Kumble also had words of appreciation for Pataudi and his contribution to Indian cricket.
“Pataudi was acutely aware of perception. He was in some ways an Englishman but he had an Indian heart.
“He was a management guru and understood the meaning of symbolism. Pataudi had the balance right and has been the beacon of an Indian captain since,” he said.