The smiling assassin or the giant killer, Kumble has been India’s best bowler in the past decade. It is time to stand up and salute this great bowler and even greater human being on accomplishing the humongous feat of 600 test wickets.
If there were any devils in the pitch as predicted by the pundits, they were to be seen only on the second day of the test match as the Aussies were bundled out for a mere 212. The swing bowling by the Indian pacers would have even made the Sultan of Swing Wasim Akram proud and the famed Aussie batting line up was left in the lurch. But the day belonged to Anil Kumble, the mechanical engineer of yesterday and the Captain and Man Manager of yesterday accomplished the feat of taking 600 test wickets.
Anil Radhakrishna Kumble has started off as a young bespectacled spinner in the 1990 season. Unconventional by nature he was written off by all his critics. From his first wicket of Allan Lamb to his 600th yesterday, the great Indian spinner has come a long way. He has been the leading Indian bowler ever since the departure of Kapil Dev. Time and time the Indians have relied on him to get the first breakthrough and he has almost always delivered. Kumble reached this landmark in just his 124th test even quicker than Shane Warne. With only Warne and Muralitharan in front of him, we could well see Kumble taking 700 test scalps by the time he hangs up his boots.
Kumble’s value to the team comes to light in the following facts. He has taken one third of the wickets Indians have taken at home in the past eighteen years. Whenever Anil takes a 10 wicket haul in a test, the Indians have never lost a test match. He has claimed 50 wickets or more in a year thrice in 1999, 2004 and 2006. He defied all odds when he bandaged his fractured jaw during a test match against West Indies to deliver a telling blow and claim the prized wicket of Brian Lara. Not to forget his marathon spell of 72 overs against Sri Lanka in Colombo in 1997. His wily flippers and googlies have bamboozled batsmen world wide and has earned him the respect of all ex players as well.
In his long untiring tenure as India’s premier spinner, Kumble has done it all. Taking diving catches at the gully position, scoring a hundred at Lords and taking all ten wickets in an innings against Pakistan. Anil Kumble the giant killer or the smiling assassin, whatever you may call him has been an invaluable gift to the Indian team, one which we would even cherish long after he’s gone.
For in his corner stood perseverance, aggression and dignity, great human qualities if you are searching for a role model. In the last month, his tremendous Man Management qualities have surprised many. Captain courageous dealt with the Racism Row in the best possible manner. Standing by his team mate throughout the fiasco and then extending the olive branch to Ricky Ponting regarding Hogg’s abusing issue, Kumble has turned out to be the best man at the helm of the affairs.
If there was one player the Indians would sorely miss after his retirement, it would undoubtedly be Anil Kumble. Not because he is a great bowler, but because there will never be anyone who could fill this massive void in the Indian team. If there was ever a list of unsung heroes in Indian Cricket, this man would top that list. It is time to acknowledge the genius of this man. His determination, his will to perform despite all odds has made him a paragon of virtue. It is time for Kumble to deservingly revel in the glory and for all us mortals to stand up and salute him.