Sri Lanka has a good set-up says Kirmani
By Bilal Yusuf
Syed Kirmani arguably the best wicket-keeper batsman to have played for India has figured in 88 test matches, has taken 160 catches and has 38 stumpings. He has scored 3000 runs, which included two centuries. On his debut against New Zealand he became the fourth man in the history of test cricket to take six victims in a single innings. Kirmani was a member of the Indian team that won the world Cup in 1983, and was also adjudged the best wicket-keeper of the competition.

Kirmani visited Sri Lanka recently with the Imthiaz Ahmed Academy junior team, and took time to speak to "The Sunday Times" on his short tour to the island.

Q: What's your involvement with cricket at the moment?
I completed my stint as chairman of the selection committee for the Indian team last month. At the moment I am waiting for other assignments from the BCCI. I was also the chairman of the state selection committee and a member of the executive committee as well. I also serve as an advisor to the national cricket academy and various other cricketing academies in the country. At the moment I am involved with the State Bank of India where I am the assistant general manager in the local head office of Bangalore.

Q: In Sri Lanka we currently have seven members in the selection committee, do you think this is too much?
Well I am not sure about Sri Lanka cricket's policy matters and administrative guidelines. But I personally think seven is too much. In India we have 5 members in the selection committee in which each zone is represented by one member in the selection committee. On certain occasions we feel even five members are too much. So I would say that three members in the selection committee would be an ideal number, since there is a common saying "too many cooks spoil the soup".

Q: What were the most memorable moments in your cricketing career?
Well I don't know where to begin and where to end. What would probably top the list is winning the world cup in 1983. I am sure no one in that team would like to forget, and then equalling the world record for the most amount of dismissals in an innings both in test and one day cricket. My two centuries against Australia and England and many innings I played helped my country to win many matches or save them from defeat. Being conferred upon by several national awards was also a huge honour to me.

Q: Any regrets in your career?
Yes, there were disappointments, but I wouldn't take it as regrets. There is no point regretting since it will only affect that person, I have always been positive in my outlook towards anything, so I take everything in my stride and have no regrets in life. I am a firm believer that whatever happens in life happens for the good.

Q: How was the experience keeping to the three great spinners from India?
Keeping to them is what has made me to be recognized as one of the world's best wicket-keepers. A wicket-keeper's ability is judged when he stands up to spinners, not fast bowlers. We had the three best spinners in world cricket Prassanna, Bedi and Chandrasekar and to date nobody is near their dust. Chandrasekar was the fastest leg spinner in the world. These three spinners were the best in the world, so there was class and my wicket-keeping had to tally. I was very fortunate to have kept wickets to their bowling.

Q: Venkatragavan once accused you, that you deliberately dropped catches off his bowling. What's the story behind this?
What happened was that Venkatragavan expressed this to some of his friends who were also my friends. They conveyed this to me. I was very disappointed when I heard this. How can any keeper deliberately drop a catch or miss a stumping of anyone's bowling? It will only affect that person's performance and may also get him dropped from the team. There would have been the odd occasion I missed a catch off his bowling. But that does not mean I missed it deliberately. He thought that I use to deliberately drop catches off his bowling and taking the catches off Prassana's bowling. Finding fault with anyone is the meanest thing anyone can possibly do. Unfortunately it was expressed and I thought it was a very unfair comment.

Q: We all know Australia is the best team in the world. Who would you rate as the second best team in world cricket?
England has been doing pretty well recently. Sri Lanka have peen performing quite well and have got a very good set up. So I would say England, Sri Lanka and India are probably the three best teams in world cricket after Australia.

Q: What's your opinion on sledging?
I have never sledged in my playing days, there were the occasions I gave back after taking a lot of flak from the opposition, I have never intimidated players behind the stumps and do not endorse it. In the current era players have to be fined for misbehaving on the field. This is supposed to be gentlemen's game. What a shame! With the cameras being focused on almost every move a player makes we see other ungentlemanly mannerisms like digging the nose, chewing their nails and licking the ball. Maybe we will have to have fines in the future for digging the nose, what terrible habits! (laughs).

Q: Sri Lanka are currently playing Sangakkara as their wicket-keeper and getting him to bat at number 3, as a former wicket-keeper do you think the workload is too much for him?
If he is given the confidence by the coach and captain and has the confidence and mental toughness to perform both roles I do not see a problem. Negative talk such as its too tiring to bat up in the order and keep wickets would only hamper his performance. So if he has the confidence to do the job I don't see any reason not to get him in perform both roles.


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