Paying rich tribute to Sachin Tendulkar, former skipper Anil Kumble today said the retiring great was a "natural spinner" and he sometimes threatened his place as a bowler in the team.
The 40-year-old cricketer from Mumbai is set to play his 200th and final Test match at Wankhede Stadium from tomorrow when India takes on West Indies in the second Test. "I have played 132 Tests with Sachin.
I never threatened Sachin's place in the team as a batsman but he sometimes threatened mine as a bowler. He was a natural spinner of the ball," said Kumble while delivering the second Mansur Ali Khan Pataudi Memorial lecture here.
Sachin Tendulkar has spanned three generations of cricketers and fired the dreams of a billion Indians, said Anil Kumble, a proud owner of 619 Test wickets.
Talking about the challenges ahead, Kumble suggested separate seasons for separate formats and said it will help allow cricketers to prepare for the physical and mental demands of each format.
"With the Test championship slated for 2017, all Test playing nations have an obligation to play a certain number of matches home and away.
Home countries have television obligations. While we rejoice in the commercial success of the sports, I feel there is an urgent need to adapt to the changing times," Kumble said.
"In a consumer driven market where the paying spectator and TV determine the commercial viability of all forms of entertainment, it is important to strike a balance.
The challenge of maintaining tradition while we adapt to the modern demand of cricket are proving to be complex," Kumble said.
"It may be practical to step away from the unimaginative approach of packing every single series with a couple of Test Mathe's, a few ODIs, followed by a couple of Twenty over games and instead curving out separate calender for each format.
Kumble said India should take the lead in this too as they have done in the Indian Permier League. "Three different seasons to accommodate three different formats is easily conceivable and here too India can lead the chance like they done with the IPL.
Specific season for specific formats will provide clarity for the spectators and allow the players to prepare for the physical and mental demands of each format," he said.
"A good analogy could be the tennis season which moves from surface to surface, hard court, clay, grass and indoors. A staggered season will enable the spread cricket to new territories, allow better planning," he added.
Kumble opened his address, remembering how he was written off as a spinner by Pataudi, one of India's most famous and knowledgeable skippers.
"At best, he was a restrictive bowler," Pataudi had opined about Kumble. Kumble said: "After 619 wickets later, it's my misfortune that I cannot confront him. Had I done so, he would have had a great laugh."
"Pataudi was acutely aware of perception. He was in some ways an Englishman but he had an indian heart. He was the first Indian to lead India. He was a management guru, he understand the meaning of symbolism. Pataudi had the balance right and has been the beacon of Indian captain since."