Arun Kumar got the first of his tattoos he became the daddy-cool of cricketers. The tattoo read ‘Deipal’, the name of his daughter. This was while playing for a minor county club in Ireland.
Up in smoke
“During my playing days I guess people didn’t take me seriously enough or they didn’t think I was serious about cricket. I may have had a different outlook to life and the game but I always gave my best,” Arun says. “There was talk that I don’t work hard enough. But the truth is I used to work doubly hard because I was a smoker even in my playing days and I knew if I had to be as fit as the non-smokers I had to put in that extra bit. I used to work out in the mornings and do my exercises but the selectors and officials would only come to the stadium at noon. So they had a wrong impression about me.”
As a coach, JAK now has broken the mould again. “Our team meetings last not more than five minutes on the first morning of a Ranji Trophy game. That way the message is fresh. It works because the boys have been empowered to take decisions and be accountable for it and in turn they have all become responsible and confident in their abilities,” he claims. “As a young player I used to dread the long-winding team meetings that used to stretch into hours. The coaches would be saying the same thing again and again and no one would be listening. After a point you just switch off. In the Karnataka team MAK and I talk only when we think it is really necessary. I believe that a coach must keep his mouth shut most of the time.”
The democratisation of the dressing room has helped. Common interests — super bikes, fast cars, music and pool — form snatches of conversation between JAK and the boys. Most times they are listening to their coach because he can identify a motorbike from the thump of its engine, as well as spot why a cover drive needs a little tweaking.