Disturbed and traumatised at reports that he had slammed his childhood friend on a TV show, Vinod Kambli tells Clayton Murzello of Tendulkar's reaction and more
NOT since the match-fixing scandal in the late 1990s has a nation waited with bated breath for a former player to spill the beans over an issue.
Back then, Manoj Prabhakar gave anticipatory buzz a new meaning when cricket lovers and haters waited for him to name the player who offered him Rs 25 lakh to under-perform during his playing days.
Though Vinod Kambli's reported claim that childhood friend Sachin Tendulkar did not help him out in his dark days is not as sinister as Prabhakar's allegation, India cannot wait for Monday night when Kambli will feature in the game show Sach ka Saamna.
He spoke to MiD DAY about the controversy, his excitement levels and his deep-rooted frustrations.
Have these last few days been traumatic?
Not traumatic, but sad. It has shattered my entire family, especially my wife, Andrea. And of course, Sachin's and my fans. I never said what was written in the media (Sachin did not help him in his hour of need). I am shattered and saddened by all this.
What did you tell Sachin?
I said that whatever has come in the newspapers is not true and he just laughed. He knows exactly what kind of friendship we share. I don't think this will bother him because I have not said such things about him.
Have you slept well?
Yes (laughs). The first night was bad (after the news came out) because it was unexpected. I am never into any controversy and will certainly not get into anything like this.
The whole case has everyone guessing. Is Vinod Kambli telling the truth in his denial? Did he actually say something against Sachin? Are we being fooled?
I don't think the public will be fooled. People know who I am and I am sure they have heard various people from the cricketing fraternity on television. Many have come out and supported me and I thank them. And yes, there were some who pretended to be my friends, but were actually stabbing me in the back.
Is this a publicity stunt?
I don't need publicity at this stage of my life. I have played for India well enough to be known.
You travelled to Madrid for this show and you were paid well...
I did travel to Madrid and yes, I was paid. But money is not everything for me. I came on this show with the backing of my wife, Andrea. There were some facts to be spelt out; some truths to be revealed. Don't for a minute believe it is easy to come on such shows. It takes a lot of guts. It's like facing the West Indies fast bowlers of yesteryears.
The host of Sach ka Saamna says that there was a question on Sachin and you cried...
I cried in response to something else.
Can you tell us clearly what you have said on the show?
Look, I am under contract and cannot reveal much. You will have to wait till Monday. People should watch the entire show before jumping to conclusions. Watch it.
Excited about Monday?
I am excited. I just can't wait for Monday. But yes, I am very cool about the controversy.
What do you have to say about your image? When people talk about Vinod Kambli, they think about a guy who batted brilliantly but did not have discipline...
Over the years, I have yet to understand about this indiscipline aspect. Nobody has told me what I was doing wrong, so I don't get it. Has anyone explained to me why I was dropped despite having an average of 54.20?
You still remember your Test average...
Of course, I do. How can I forget? I was dropped after playing only 17 Tests. Why? And I played over 100 one-dayers. Why did I get recalled so many times in the one-day team if I was not good enough?
But you did not make your comebacks count...
The opportunities I got after each comeback were not enough to cement my place in the team. And let me stress how unsettled things were in the 1990s. All those who played for India in this period will agree. There was a sword dangling over the necks of most players. You were not given an extended run and if you didn't perform in the handful of opportunities you got, you were dropped. Nobody thinks about these things when they talk down a player. I would have loved to play in this era. I am happy for youngsters who get good opportunities and you can see the results.
Writing books has become a fashion among cricket personalities. Do you plan to write one too?
When I do, you will be the first to know.