Stop retirement talk, India captain tells media

Published: Wednesday, October 8, 2008, 14:29 [IST]
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An angry Indian captain Anil Kumble lashedout at the media on Wednesday for dwelling on the retirement plans of senior players ahead of the upcoming Australia series.

Kumble, who turns 38 on October 17, was bombarded with questions of his future at a press meet for Thursday's first Test, following former captain Sourav Ganguly's decision to call it quits after the series.

"I will not say yes or no," Kumble retorted to a question from an Indian reporter if the Australian series would also be his last.

"I will let you know when I play my last series. Let the players decide when they want to go."

Speculation about Kumble's future mounted on Wednesday when he wrote in the Hindustan Times that this would be his last Test in his home city of Bangalore.

"By the time you read this on Wednesday, some hours would have passed since Sourav announced that this would be his last series," Kumble wrote.

"(This would be) marking the last time that some of us who've played together for India for long -- Sourav himself, Sachin (Tendulkar), Rahul (Dravid), (Venkatsai) Laxman and I -- would be playing a Test series together.

"There would also be some hours left before I walk onto the field with an Australian captain in front of my home crowd in Bangalore one last time."

Asked if the column hinted at his future plans, Kumble shot back: "I don't know which newspaper you are referring to. There are millions of newspapers in India and a lot is written in them."

The Indian captain said the team's focus was entirely on winning the four-Test series against world champions Australia.

"Our focus will be to perform as a team," he said. "We are really satisfied by the way we have gone with our preparations for the series. We hope to play good cricket throughout."

Ganguly, 36, announced his retirement on Tuesday, the first of India's five veterans -- dubbed the 'fab five' -- to finally put an end to their long careers.

The others are Tendulkar, 35, who needs only 77 more runs to overtake Brian Lara as Test cricket's leading scorer, Kumble, Dravid, 35, and Laxman, 33.

There was media speculation that the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) had struck a deal with Ganguly to give him a graceful exit, provided he agreed to quit after the series.

Kumble's 616 wickets from 130 matches makes him the third most successful Test bowler after Sri Lankan Muttiah Muralitharan (756) and Shane Warne of Australia (708).

The leg-spinner claimed all 10 wickets in an innings against Pakistan in New Delhi in 1999, only the second bowler to achieve the feat after Englishman Jim Laker.

Meanwhile, Australian captain Ricky Ponting said the tourists were hoping to take advantage of the distractions in the Indian team over Ganguly's retirement.

"It creates distractions, there's no doubt about that," Ponting told reporters.

"Yesterday afternoon and today the Indian team will have faced a fair share of different distractions to what they're used to.

"Everyone would have wanted to talk about Sourav's retirement, so they will be facing that now for the next four weeks.

"One thing it will do is it will probably take a bit of pressure off Sourav and put it back on some of the other guys in their side, that's the way I see it."

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