Kumble should have received Padma Shri

The Union Ministry of Sports has surprisingly missed the name of Anil Kumble, who has been the backbone of India's bowling for 14 years, writes Srinath.

Updated: February 25, 2007 10:07 IST
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The last calendar year has arguably been the most successful year in the history of Indian cricket. The recent efforts, especially the latest against Pakistan has earned India plaudits from every sphere. The packed season ahead with the mini World Cup in the form of ICC championship in England, promises a great deal of cricketing feast in the next few months. The Indian cricket board has done a fine job with the introduction of pension schemes. At the same time, it has also made considerable progress in implementing the contract system for the players, which is being given final touches at the moment. The players contract, although some may feel has come belatedly, is a welcome initiative for the players to approach the game in a much more professional manner. The cricketers are not only enjoying the recent success in terms of growing sponsorship engagements but some of them are also receiving prestigious national awards. Sourav Ganguly, the most successfull captain India arguably ever had, and his deputy Rahul Dravid have been honoured with the Padma Shri award recently. Dravid, who had always been a keen communicator, has very rightly said that awards are great reminders to progress to the next level. Now, in the midst of all the cricketing glories, spare a thought for India's silent assassin, Anil Kumble. The Union Ministry of Sports, while finalising the name of the awardees, has surprisingly missed the name of Anil Kumble, who has been the backbone of India's bowling for 14 years. Although cricket is a pronounced batsman's game, missing out in recognising Anil's contribution is an inexcusable act. Delaying such awards is as good as ignoring. As a former cricketer I can tell you that nothing means more to the players than national honours like Arjuna award, Padma Shri or Khel Ratna. Off late, various cricket sponsors have jumped onto the bandwagon in having their own awards ceremonies on almost monthly basis. In spite of these awards carrying substantially huge amounts as rewards, every player, I can assure you, long for a national title. We, Anil's teammates, were confident that he would be conferred with the Padma Shri when he achieved the 'Perfect Ten' in 1999 against Pakistan in New Delhi. The recognition may have eluded Anil, but he was richly rewarded with the great respect that he earned not only from his own teammates but from teams all over the world. To me, a performer who doesn't get the headlines as often as he should, is truly a winner in every sense. Indian team's preparation for the Asia cup is supposedly the best so far. A gruelling fitness camp for two weeks followed by a 10-day cricket camp and adequate breaks in between the two camps has kept the players in sound mind and body. The selections for the Asia Cup has been very much on expected lines. Ajit Agarkar, who had to make way for Ashish Nehra, must have been left disappointed. The enigmatic Ajit had grown in confidence during the Australian series with a match-winning haul of six wickets. But I am afraid that Ajit's fragile body has somehow failed to come to terms with the demanding international schedule. A truly great potential, he has been a victim of injuries. It's not fair to lose out on someone with an experience of 130 odd ODI games behind him. I still believe that India's vision and hopes of winning the World Cup 2007 lies in the likes of Ajit and others. But I only hope and pray that the selection committee and the team management have counselled the players with good reasons for being left out of the team. The old practice of ignoring the dropped players without communicating with them properly can only rub salt in the wounds. The Indian team sets offshore to Colombo with the tag of favourites. They would surely want to start the season on a winning note. And so do we. (PTI)

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