India has always been a birthplace of great spinners. Whether it was Erapalli Prasanna, Bishan Singh Bedi or ‘the turbanator’ Harbhajan Singh, all went on to become legends in the game of cricket. One bowler, who stood the stand of time and bamboozled various oppositions with his amazing bowling skills, was none other than the ‘Jumbo’ of Indian cricket, Anil Kumble.
Leg-spin is generally a trade-off between how much spin you impart and how accurate you are. Kumble, with his physique and height, seemed destined to be a seam bowler but he chose to be a wrist spinner.
He made his first-class debut for Karnataka against Hyderabad on 30th November in the year 1989. He took 4 wickets in the match and his performance got noticed by the selection committee. After an amazing bowling performance in his first-class debut, he got selected in India’s Under-19 team, which was all set to face Pakistan. In that standalone Test match, he scored 113 runs in the first inning and scored 76 in the second inning. But his career kick-started when he single-handedly made the Rest of India team victorious by showing his bowling prowess.
Kumble picked up 13 wickets in Irani Trophy against Delhi for Rest of India. This performance helped him earn a place in the Indian side that toured South Africa and Zimbabwe. But it was the during the 1992 Indian tour of South Africa where he came out as the quality spinner that India wanted.
He picked up 8 wickets the second Test match of the series against South Africa and did not give any room to South African batsmen. The whole world got to know that a legend has entered the game of cricket. He picked up 18 wickets in the series at an average of 25.94 and with an economy rate of 1.84 in four-Test series.
Later that year, when England came to India, Kumble continued his golden run picked up 21 wickets in the three-match Test series. He was becoming the ‘go-to guy’ when the team was in trouble. But even after giving so many match-winning performances, many experts of the game believed that he only manages to get wickets at home, where conditions favor him.
As years progressed, Kumble put these remarks to rest as he led India to victory across continents, from Rawalpindi to Adelaide, from Jamaica to Johannesburg, from Wellington to Nottingham.
His moment of glory came in the year 1999 in a Test match against Pakistan. Kumble did the unthinkable on February 9, 1999. He ran through the Pakistan batting line up and scalped all 10 wickets of the Pakistan innings. After Jim Laker, he became the second bowler to achieve that feat.
The leg-spinner picked up the wickets of Shahid Afridi, Ijaz Ahmed, Inzamam Ul Haq, Yousuf Youhana, Moin Khan, Saeed Anwar, Saleem Malik, Mushtaq Ahmed, Saqlain Mushtaq, and Wasim Akram while achieving this world record.
This magical spell from Kumble made its way into the history books and will always be remembered as one of the greatest bowling spells of all time.
He was a fighter and he showed his never-say-die attitude in a match against the West Indies in Antigua in 2002. Kumble came out to play with a broken jaw and bowled 14 continuous overs in that spell. He also managed to take the important wicket of batting legend Brian Lara in that spell. Those 14 overs by Anil Kumble is regarded as one of the bravest acts in the history of Test cricket.
On 6th October 2004, Kumble became the third spinner in the history of Test cricket after Shane Warne and Muttiah Muralitharan & the second Indian bowler after Kapil Dev to capture 400 test wickets.
Seeing his calm and composed nature, Anil was named the captain of the Indian Test team following the resignation of Rahul Dravid in 2007. Under his leadership, India won a series against Pakistan, which gave everyone the confidence that the Indian cricket team is in safe hands.
2008 was not a good year for Kumble as he was unable to give match-winning performances. He could not pick up wickets in India’s tour of Sri Lanka and the subsequent home series against Australia in 2008. He shocked the world when he announced his retirement after the end of the third Test match.
Following his retirement, he was appointed as the Chairman of the ICC Cricket Committee in October 2012. Kumble went on to become the head coach of the Indian team in 2016 and did a wonderful job. He guided Indian team to number one spot in the Test ranking.
Till this date, he is the third highest wicket-taker in Test cricket. In 132 Test matches, he picked up 619 wickets at an average of 29.65.
All in all, he was a gem of Indian cricket and whether he is in the game or out of the game, he will always be regarded as one of the legendary bowlers of the modern era.
A VERY HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO THE 'JUMBO' of INDIAN CRICKET, ANIL KUMBLE.
About the Author
Sports Journalist by profession, a Cricket Fanatic by passion. Aayush Sharma has been following the game of cricket since childhood and considers Sachin Tendulkar as his idol. When in free time, he loves to read books or go out and play some gully cricket with friends. For him, Tennis ace Roger Federer and F1 Legend Michael Schumacher are the only sportspersons that reach the level of Tendulkar