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Gavaskar asks - How about a Bentley for Anil Kumble?
by Sunil Gavaskar
Jan 26, 2008
By Sunil Gavaskar - Dreamcricket Special Columnist

It is good to know that the Board of Control for Cricket in India will honour Anil Kumble for being only the third bowler in Test history to capture 600 wickets. The announcement by the BCCI President could not have come at a better time for it not only celebrates India’s great win at Perth but also one of the greatest cricketers the country has produced. The BCCI had generously decided to reward Yuvraj Singh for the unique feat of hitting six sixes in an over in the Twenty-Twenty World Cup with a cash award and the BCCI Vice President, Lalit Modi who was present at that exciting moment announced a top of the line Porsche car for the dashing left-hander quite in fitting with the image that he has of a player who lives life in the fast lane. There was another award of a Mercedes Benz car announced but it was by an individual again for Rudra Pratap Singh for his excellent swing bowling throughout the tournament.

Anil Kumble’s feat deserves a big car like a Bentley apart from a hefty cash award too and with the BCCI not short of a rupee or two that should not be a problem at all. What such awards do is to provide a great incentive to others who follow that their deeds will also be recognized handsomely. It is something to think about by administrators as to why more and more youngsters are taking up cricket than other sports and the answer is pretty simple because of the opportunity to have a good career option that the game provides. When parents see that there is the chance of their kid making a career out of a sport then they encourage their child more than if their child was to take up a sport that doesn’t afford that option, for after all, the best years of one’s life are spent in trying to build a career and that’s why parents, till not so long ago, were reluctant to allow their wards to take up sport actively because there were no rewards in it. It is never a good sight to see most of the players of a national team traveling by public transportation while those from cricket mainly travel by cars, be it a modest Nano or a Ferrari like Tendulkar does.

Anil Kumble like most, from the State of Karnataka is a self effacing person who has never projected himself in the limelight and thus has not always been sought after by corporates to promote their product or be their brand ambassador, though that could well be changing very soon. The one exception is Rahul Dravid who has been the face of many advertising campaigns and is the brand ambassador of many corporates. Before that though there were those match winners for India, Bhagwat Chandrasekhar, Gundappa Viswanath and Erapally Prassanna who hardly got an advertising contract. Despite taking India to wins many times, they were never able to make the extra buck that is welcome to a sportsperson, for remember the fees for playing for India were not as much as they are now where even at the Ranji level, a player is able to get a good fee and an annual salary that would be the envy of most others beginning their careers in government or other such jobs.

It is not just the cricketers from Karnataka but also other sports stars, who because of their cultured upbringing do not flaunt their achievements in the game and are generally low profile people and if you ever met them, you would never realise that you were in the presence of a great achiever for the country. Look at Mahesh Bhupathi in Tennis, here is a guy who has won ten majors in Tennis and still not seen as the corporate face in any campaigns. By the time you read this there maybe another title or two in the bag for Bhupathi and still he won’t get the headlines that he deserves.

And of course this column cannot be completed without reference to the greatest sportsperson at least in my view, that post war India has produced, Prakash Padukone. At a time when even the Danes and the Indonesians were struggling to get 5 points off the Chinese players, Prakash was beating them and winning titles. How many ad campaigns have you seen the great man in and he is a good looking bloke too. It is this shy nature of the Karnatakans that endear them to the entire country. They go about their jobs with minimum of fuss and when they do more than what’s asked of them, they do so without any drama and finish it to the delight of every one.

The India-South African series starts in March and that’s when Anil Kumble will be back in action after the Adelaide Test and that will be a fitting time to honour one of India’s greatest sons.

Roll on the Bentley, BCCI. Your captain deserves it.

 
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