I’m not big fan of cricket game. Also, this is my first post to publish on cricket game. But where ever you go, you see very few people to get inspired. Such personalities need this piece of appreciation to let world know about him.
It all started on the night of 27 November 1993. India were playing
against WI in the finals of Hero Cup in Eden Gardens. I was just eight
years old then. After a small but entertaining partnership between
Sachin and Kapil, India had put a target of 226 for WI. After a solid
start they just tumbled and fell like dry leaves to the magic of a
bespectacled young man. Accurate and unerring, his deliveries one after
the other kept on asking questions to the WI batsmen who had no clue how
to play them. Soon they had given up and he had picked up 6 wickets for
12 runs. He takes the last six wickets in less than 5 overs; it is still
India’s best bowling performance in ODIs. Indian won Hero cup and he
became the Hero in my heart. The man, Anil Kumble, is my favourite
cricketer over the past 1 and 1/2 decade.
We are really lucky to be in a generation which is a golden era for spin
bowling. Three world class spinners, Kumble along with Murali and Warne,
ruled the cricketing world over the past 15 years. They had shown the
world that spinners can be match winners. Of the three Kumble is
distinct. He did not have the flair of Warne or guile of Murali but he
competed with them through out this period. He certainly is not a bug
spinner of the ball, but as he said the difference between the middle of
the bat and edge is just 1 inch. You need not be a big turner of the
ball to beat the edge. Even if you compare the records of Warne and
Kumble, Kumble had picked up 4.68 wickets per match when compared to
Warne’s 4.88 per match. He was the first bowler to reach 300 wickets in
ODIs among the three. And he had one test century that the other two did
not have. In fact he was the only one to score a century in 500+ wicket
club. People say Kumble has picked up lot of wickets on sub continent
where the pitches assist spinners. But one has to realize the fact that
even Warne picked up majority of his wickets against SA and England who
did not know that a cricket ball can spin. When Murali picked up
majority of his wickets against cricketing minnows like Zimbabwe and
Bangladesh, Kumble had major success against the world champions
Australia and Pakistan, who are the second best players of spin after
India. This is not to show that Kumble is more than Warne or Murali but
just to tell that he is not less. If warne is blessed and Murali has it
by birth, Kumble is the one who showed that hard work pays. He
simplified the art of spin bowling just like an expert mathematician
does when solving complex problems.
I liked Kumble when I was not aware of the golden past of Indian spin,
the spin quartet. E.Prasanna once said that Kumble would not even get a
chance a play international cricket if he had played during their time.
Even then Kumble’s record was better than the spin quartet put together.
Four spinners put together averaged just above 4 per match compared to
Kumble’s 4.68. Having said that I should accept the fact that those four
spinners were really quality players. He also holds the record for
highest number of LBWs and Caught and Bowleds in Test cricket.
Incidentally his last two wickets in test cricket are LBW and Caught and
Anil kumble is inarguably the greatest match winner for India. As
cricinfo has put it, No bowler in history won India more Test matches
than Anil Kumble, and there probably hasn’t been a harder trier either.
He has literally won many matches for India during the time when India
was considered unbeatable in their home soil under Azhar. People who
comment that Kumble’s record outside subcontinent is not that good have
to understand the fact that before Rahul Dravid had a golden run at
No.3, Indian batsmen seldom scored in test matches outside India. When
Indian batǪing started performing better outside India, Kumble’s record
outside India has also improved. 20+ wkts in Australia, despite being
treated as a backup for Harbhajan; he got a chance only after Bahajji
was inhured in that series, in 2003 is an example. His subtle variations
in pace, length combined with a clever use of crease earned him great
success. Though he is not a big turner of the ball, he has made the
batsmen dance on their toes with his deliveries. Though he does not know
how to spin a ball, he has made cricket records spin around his career.
In a brilliant though always downplayed career Kumble claimed virtually
every Indian record. After his shoulder injury in 2000, Kumble has
improved a lot as a bowler and added more varieties under his
repertoire. He is arguably the best bowler for flippers in his generation.
Inspite of all his achievements, he was always underrated. As an ad
agency once commented, Kumble is not an advertising material. There were
no huge celebrations when he broke Kapil’s record or picked up 10 wkts
in an innings. But he has never complained. Even after announcing his
retirement he did not cry upon officials or fellow players. In his
career of 18 years, he was not summoned even once. As Tony Greig said,
If you ask anybody about Kumble, you will hear only good about him. Ask
Lara & Inzamam, who thwarted all spinners but Kumble, and they will
testify for his greatness. This tells a lot about his character and
ability. To conclude, India may produce another Dravid, Ganguly or
Laxman, but Kumble is once in a life time player. We may not see a
spinner creating records without spinning a ball.
— Most of this content was taken from a mail sent by my friend Anil who is deadly fan of Cricket and Kumble.