Former spin-bowler and Test skipper of the Indian cricket team, Anil Kumble has unveiled that retracting from the 2008 Australian Test tour was an option but the team decided against it. The veteran player made the revelation in an interview with Indian spinner, Ravichandran Ashwin on his YouTube show ‘DRS with Ash’. He said that the players resolute about forging ahead with the Test series and prove their grit.
Talking of the rather infamous Sydney Test, the second match of 2007-08 Test series of the tour that led to the banishment of bowler Harbhajan Singh for allegedly bad-mouthing the Australian all-rounder Andrew Symonds racially. The International Cricket Council (ICC) sentenced him with a ban on playing in the next three matches. The incident later came to be known as the Monkeygate scandal. Kumble expressed that he felt their player had been ‘wronged’.
The Sydney Test resulted in 122 runs defeat for the Indian team.
“You know as a captain you are 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 was obviously banned for three matches because of a racist remark- that what the pronouncement was and we appealed to that. And I believe that our player was wronged, and we had to obviously be together as a team”, Kumble said.
Kumble said that word started spreading after the incident that the Indian team could pull out of the match. He also added that the Indian fans would have accepted if the team had chosen to return home and decide to opt-out of the next matches but the team was adamant to spring back stronger and win the match.
“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.
“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 our fans.”
India went ahead to play the third Test at Perth and triumphed the seemingly impossible win by 72 runs.
The prodigious battle-scarred spinner who holds the title of taking the third-highest number of wickets in Test cricket and being only the second player ever to take a 10-wicket haul has led India in 14 Test matches.