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'I'd like to work behind the scenes' - Kumble

Anil Kumble, India's new head coach, has acknowledged the influence of his predecessors John Wright and Gary Kirsten, and expects to adopt their low-visibility style and remain mostly behind the scenes. Wright was India's head coach from 2000 to 2005, and was head coach at Mumbai Indians in 2013-14, when Kumble served as the team's mentor. Kirsten was India's head coach from 2008 - Kumble's last year as a Test cricketer - to 2011.

"I played a lot under John Wright, he's been a great influence on how I'll go about [the role], in terms of being in the background," Kumble told bcci.tv. "When I became a mentor for Mumbai Indians, I brought John in because he understood a lot about Indian culture and then the way coaches work. So I'll pick his brain.

"I was involved with Gary Kirsten only for the Test matches, a very short period. He was, again, someone who worked in the background and didn't make himself visible. Exactly how I'd like to work as well. Not in the front, but behind the scenes."

As a bowler, Kumble combined a cerebral approach with a willingness to keep pounding in for long spells no matter what the match situation. Accordingly, he said his coaching style would have "a bit of everything", giving data its due while trying to strengthen his players' response to adversity.

"Data is important when you have to devise strategies and man-management is extremely crucial," he said. "You need the team environment to be consistent and healthy, but also competitive. That is something I would look to have in the team.

"The team comes first, the coaches play the background role, you are just trying to prepare the team for the best of their ability, for all conditions and all eventualities. You can't really plan for adversity, but to try to prepare the team to handle those adversities. That's exactly what we'll try and address."

Kumble said he wanted to "build leaders" in his playing group, and said his coaching would have to deal as much with off-field as with on-field issues.

"[It is] important as a coach to take the burden off the captain," he said. "Captain has a lot of things on his head, all cricketing decisions and non-cricketing as well. When I was captain I realised that it's not just taking decisions on the field but off it as well. Those are quite stressful.

"Having been with the Indian team for such a long time and having had various experiences of not just conditions, but outside the cricket field, when you're a coach, you're not just coach on the field but also off it. You're trying to build personalities, trying to build leaders. That's how I'd like to look at this team. There is some wonderful talent, you need to make leaders out of them, try and understand what ticks them. It's not a quick fix, you have to understand and then take a call."

Defining his role as that of an "enabler", Kumble said he would not impose his views on the players.

"They are already playing a good brand of cricket," he said. "I will bring my characteristics as well but won't impose on them. My job is to convince players to buy into what I believe in and what they believe in. At the end of it, they need to own it. If the team doesn't own what we agree on, then it's not going to work. I'm only an enabler. I work as an enabler to make sure things happen.

"You need to be tough to play international cricket. It's not only highs that you will see, you will also see lows. The coach's role is not only to be a coach during successful periods but to be a coach during tough times."

Kumble said he had already spoken to India's Test captain Virat Kohli, and looked forward to starting his tenure with a camp in Bangalore, his hometown, ahead of the four-Test tour of West Indies in July-August.

"We have the West Indies Test series coming up, so that's something our focus will be on," he said. "I've spoken to Virat [Kohli] and MS [Dhoni, India's ODI and T20 captain] must be on the flight back from Zimbabwe. It's nice to have a camp here in Bengaluru before we tour. We'll sit down and iron out and get ready for the West Indies tour.

"Bowling, getting 20 wickets in Test cricket will win you matches. That's the focus and we'll take it from there. Batting, we have some great talent there. I believe this team has the potential. It's a young team and driven by young leaders. Looking forward to working with Virat and MS. Long-term, we have lots of Tests coming up in India, that'll be our focus."

Kumble starts his role on a one-year term, and most of India's Test cricket in that period will be at home. Despite this, Kumble said he would focus on improving their overseas record, and that the process could begin at home itself.

"I'm really excited," he said. "This [overseas record] is something I wanted to commit to. You'll have lot of time to strategise. The team needs to be really fit to meet the demands of Test cricket. Lot of Tests coming up, the first four are in West Indies where the conditions are not that different to India. But the Indian conditions are where we are comfortable with. Focus will be on our overseas record and the mindset we have to address from home itself. We'll sit down and make a plan to ensure that we train towards achieving those goals."

Returning to a constantly on-the-road lifestyle was the one major concern Kumble had before he applied for the job; he said he finally decided to go ahead after a "long chat" with his family.

"I felt it was the right time for me to get involved. I'm still fit enough to run around. It's a young team so I believe you have to get your hands dirty, you need to be with the players, train with them, be amongst them. If it was a senior team, you can sit back, strategise and address that. But as a young team, you need to be in the middle and that's something I can do at this stage.

"I had a long chat with the family, 18 years on the road, they've taken the stress and the burden. My wife and kids have been really supportive. Not easy travelling again so that was a major decision. Once those two were clear, I put my hat in the ring. The process was great, I felt more comfortable because the three members who were interviewing me were my own team-mates, former colleagues. Process was professional and I enjoyed being a part of it. The presentation that was requested, I made my plan and put a blueprint, a blueprint for others to contribute and make it larger and ensure that all stakeholders own that plan and continue to take Indian cricket forward."

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