Mumbai: Spin legend Anil Kumble on Wednesday said India became a sporting nation only in the last decade and other sports should take a cue from cricket as to how to market the game in the nook and corner of the country.
Kumble said not just cricket, but the success of athletes in other sports have helped India become a sporting nation.
"For years, we thought we are a sporting nation but we had little to show. In the last decade, India`s sporting success has changed all that," Kumble said while giving the MAK Pataudi Lecture here.
"The improved performances at Commonwealth Games, London Olympics and world tournaments by chess, billiards, snooker badminton and tennis players are evidence of the improved progress that we have made," he said.
The leg-spinning great, however, said other sporting federations should follow in the foot steps of BCCI in promoting their respective games.
"Other sports can take a cue from cricket too. A generation ago, if anybody had suggested that a player from Ranchi would lead India one day, he would have been laughed at," Kumble said referring to India cricket captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni.
"The game has spread across the country, taking in areas like Rai Bareli, Baruch which had little connection to the game. The reason is simple, the infrastructure is now available and so too coaching and inceptive. We owe to our youngsters to provide them with facilities," he said.
During the lecture, Kumble also recalled the sarcastic comment which Pataudi had once made about him at the beginning of his international career. "In 1990 as a teenager I took my first step in cricket and was eager for some kind words in the cricketing world and I then I came across a comment from an accomplished Indian cricket. I quote `This lad I don`t see him winning Test match for India either at home or abroad. He rarely turns the ball, at best he can be restrictive`. The assessment came from Mr Mansoor Ali Khan Pataudi. Two decades of international cricket and 619 Test wicket later, it is indeed a great honour to address this lecture," Kumble said.
"It was my misfortune to confront Mr Pataudi on his comment. I am confident that he would have had a good laugh if I had done so. He had a good sense of humour. He is capable of taking a joke on himself. In cricket, perceiving is believing."
"The first question that I was asked on my post retirement was how does it feel to finish with 619 wickets without spinning the ball. I said it is nice that it took 18 years to realise that," Kumble said.
Kumble also had words of appreciation for Pataudi and his contribution to Indian cricket.
"Pataudi was acutely aware of perception. He was in some ways an Englishman but he had an Indian heart. He was the first Indian to lead India. He was a management guru, he understood the meaning of symbolism. Pataudi had the balance right and has been the beacon of Indian captain since," he said.
"He made it seem cricket is an easy game because he could play the best bowlers with just one eye."
Kumble said he was proud to have played a key role in contributing to Indian cricket` success over the years.
"India cricket team realised its number one status, we won the Twenty20 World Cup, The 50-over World Cup and the Champions Trophy. I am proud to be a part of the core group that laid the foundation," he said.