Anil Kumble: The Last Samurai
“Success is 99 percent perspiration…. 1 percent inspiration.” This is how Thomas Alva Edison defines the term ‘Genius’. Anil Kumble is one cricketer who fits into Edison’s definition indisputably.
How many bowlers have bowled 72 overs in a Test innings? Who has come to the rescue of his team and played with a broken jaw? He is none other than Anil Kumble. No bowler in history has won India more Test matches than Anil Kumble, and there probably hasn`t been a harder trier either.
It is said, “When the going gets tough, the tough get going.” Despite his face being heavily taped in a Test against the West Indies, the selfless cricketer that he is, he stepped forward and prised out the invaluable wicket of Brian Lara.
He has been criticised. He has not been given his due. He has remained the unsung hero of the Indian cricket team. There were times when people asked questions over his bowling making mockery and asked whether he was a spin bowler or a medium pacer. But Anil Radhakrishna Kumble kept taking it all in his stride.
The mature, intelligent and committed and tireless ‘Jumbo’ knew he was there to stay and the leggie lived up to his potential to answer all critics with his unorthodox style. He relies on precision more than on big turns.
The ultimate aim of a bowler is to take wickets so as to guide his team to victory over the opposition. And that is what Anil Kumble, the maestro does best - send the opposition line-up to the pavilion for a better view of the match proceedings from the VIP lounge.
Although often criticized as not a big turner of the ball, Kumble is the third highest wicket taker of all times behind Sri Lanka spin wizard Muttiah Muralitharan and retired Australian genius Shane Warne. Kumble recently overhauled the 600 wicket mark when he had Andrew Symonds caught at first slip into the safe hands of Rahul Dravid on the tour Down Under. He is also the leading Indian wicket taker in ODIs. The board is acknowledging this commendable exploit as the BCCI has finally fallen weak before the smiling assassin’s dedication and decided to honour the cricketer’s efforts and his contribution to the game of cricket.
This man has sustained himself in this very demanding international arena of cricket for over 17 years. He made his ODI debut against Sri Lanka in 1990 and later played his first Test against England in the same year. He went on piling up record after record, one of them being the fastest 50 wickets in Tests (10 matches) by an Indian, which still remains undefeated. He is also the second fastest in terms of taking 100 wickets (21 Tests) only next to Erapalli Prasanna. And at The Oval he chalked up what, judging by the pure ecstasy of his reaction and the dressing room`s, was perhaps his most cherished feat of all - a Test century that had been 17 years and 118 matches in the coming.
Anil Kumble is the only Indian bowler in the history of cricket to clinch 10 wickets in an innings of a match. He achieved this unassailable feat against arch-rivals Pakistan at the Ferozeshah Kotla stadium in New Delhi in 1999. He scaled this peak after Jim Laker of England. No third bowler has ever achieved this particular landmark.
His deliveries are quite fast by the standards of a spinner, in fact as fast as ‘Jumbo’ jet, as described by his colleagues. His team mates also observed his big feet which got the spin maverick the nickname Jumbo.
Moving on, Anil Kumble was handed the captaincy of the Indian cricket team in Tests after his state team mate Rahul Dravid decided to step down from the post. He led the country to a 1-0 win in the three-Test home series against Pakistan - first home triumph against Pakistan in 27 years. Then the infamous Australian tour happened which Kumble handled with utmost maturity. Though the series was won by Australia, his leadership knack won accolades from the analysts of the game.
The awards conferred to Anil Kumble also speak much of the uncompromising player. He was bestowed with the prestigious Arjuna Award in 1995. Kumble was one of the Wisden Cricketers of the year in 1996. In 2005, the Government of India presented him with the Padma Shri.
No words can ever do justice to the hard work and dedication that this perfectionist puts on the field. Without a question he fits into the bracket of this gentleman’s game.
He has decided to bow out gracefully from the game. The game that he has served for over 18 years. He will be missed by the cricketing fraternity, undoubtedly.
Peter Roebuck, one of the most well-known columnists and former cricketer, says, "Curiously, Kumble has little in common with his two great contemporaries, Shane Warne and Muttiah Muralitharan. They relied on excess, spinning the ball ferociously and able, by sleight of hand, to fool batsmen into playing at thin air. They created error by destroying hope. Kumble more closely resembles Glenn McGrath because he does not so much baffle batsmen, as torture them with precisely-pitched deliveries. Like the Australian, he does not tear opponents apart, just works away methodically till the deed has been done. Apparently he is an engineer, but he belongs in the courts of law as an inquisitor."
Whether Peter’s assessment of Anil Kumble is spot on is for the posterity to decide. But what is YOUR view on this home grown genius? Tell us…