"You have to innovate"

"Look at how some people want me to play one-day cricket now. Strange they said nothing when I was dropped from the one-day team," says ANIL KUMBLE to VIJAY LOKAPALLY.

Anil Kumble thinks that he is taken for granted. What more does the legendary leg-spinner have to say? Read on as Sportstar asks the affable cricketer some pertinent questions.

Question: Are the demands on you to win matches unreasonable?

Answer: I don't think the demands are unreasonable, but often I think I am taken for granted. I find it strange that when I take five wickets, it is considered no big deal because I am expected to do so. But if I finish with two or three wickets, it is said I have had a poor game. That is not fair. Can a batsman score a century every time he walks to the middle?

Does it hurt not to be considered for limited overs cricket?

It hurt a lot three years ago (2003 World Cup) but I have got used to it. To tell you the truth, I don't think much about it. Why worry when such things can affect your performance. Initially I used to get worked up, but not now. Look at how some people want me to play one-day cricket now. Strange they said nothing when I was dropped from the one-day team.

Do you regret not being considered good enough to lead the team?

Who does not want to lead the country, but frankly I have not worried at all about not being given the captaincy. It is something that is not within my control. I must have had some skills to have survived 16 years in international cricket. There was some possibility of leading sometime ago, but not now. It is too late.

How do you motivate yourself?

To survive in today's cricket, you have to innovate or else you can lose your motivation. I try and come up with new grips, new angles; change my run-up, wrist positions; try and bowl differently. I have been working on my flipper even though I have not yet got a wicket with it. I have been trying to improve my googly (three fingers and tennis ball grip).

What has been your approach to the game in the last five years or so?

To me, every `nets' session and a match is tough. I keep telling myself that I have to keep trying. The (shoulder) injury taught me a lot on preserving myself and contributing more to the team.

How do you push yourself during the off-season?

I experiment with my bowling by working on various pitches. I analyse my video and make the necessary changes.

What is your opinion on the state of pitches in international cricket today?

An ideal Test match pitch should assist the spinners, but over the years the pitches have got better and better with batsmen dominating everywhere. So you have to keep bowling differently. My experience of 16 years has helped me a lot. I have to look at the positive side of my bowling and not worry about the kind of pitches I would encounter.

Do the prowling television cameras not expose the secrets of your art and make it easier for the batsmen?

The exposure adds to the challenge because often the batsman, having studied you, knows what you are going to bowl. Earlier, the seniors would guide the newcomers on how to face the bowlers, but now the video recordings come in handy. It helps the bowlers too to study the batsmen.

What do you tell yourself when you step on to the field?

Keep faith in myself and share my experience with the youngsters. Look up to contribute in a winning cause.