Home > Features > Moments in history >

Anil Kumble: Lion-hearted cricketer and brilliant tactician

By Nishad Pai Vaidya

It was on this very day, 42 years ago, the great Anil Kumble was born. Not many would have given the bespectacled 19-year old to go far in his cricketing career when he arrived on the scene at Manchester in 1990.

Through the 1990s, if Sachin Tendulkar symbolised India’s hopes with the bat, it was Kumble who was the standard bearer of India’s bowling attack – the chief architect of numerous Indian triumphs. His Riplesque 10-wicket haul against Pakistan at Delhi being the high point of not just that decade but his entire career.
Chasing a victory target of 420, Pakistan were 101 for no loss, with India’s nemesis Shahid Afridi and Saeed Anwar going strong. Kumble then came into the attack and played havoc, as were bundled out for 207. The scars of the dramatic defeat at Chennai in the previous Test were still fresh and Kumble’s feat was like a soothing balm.

With the dramatic emergence of Harbhajan Singh in 2001, Kumble was relegated to the second-choice spinner in the squad. He invariably found himself out of the eleven whenever India opted for the lone spinner – particularly in the one-dayers. It was something one wouldn’t have imagined as a senior player – someone who enjoyed a stature similar to Tendulkar in the team – was benched for a junior. It was quite unlike the Indian way – something that changed under the leadership of Sourav Ganguly.

There was, however, a twist in the tale. During the tour to Australia in 2003-04, Harbhajan injured himself and Kumble suddenly found himself as the preferred option. The veteran knew it was his shot at redemption. And he didn’t disappoint. In a series that is largely remembered for the heroics of some of the Indian batsmen, Kumble’s amassed a number of wickets in that series and never looked back thereafter.

The Australia series was a start of something that wasn’t seen before. Kumble was always looked at as someone who dominated at home and didn’t quite perform abroad. However, in the years that followed, he bowled a number of crucial spells to help India to victory overseas. The whole aura around him changed and he became a very strong contender even when the surfaces didn’t suit him as much. While we talk about India’s change in fortunes overseas after Ganguly took over the captaincy, it was Kumble who injected a lot of fire in the bowling. He also effectively wiped off the tail on numerous occasions – something that many Indian frontline bowlers have traditionally struggled to do.

Happy birthday, Anil Kumble!

Anil Kumble… His career has been one of guts, grit and glory © AFP

If one has to pick two moments to signify Kumble’s career, they wouldn’t exactly include any of his match-winning spells. Yes, those bowling performances are memorable, but the two moments stand-out in memory. The first one is the obvious one – where he walked out to bowl despite having a broken jaw. With a bandaged face, the warrior walked out to ply his trade and help his team pick wickets against West Indies at Antigua in 2002. He was successful in picking a wicket – that too of the great Brian Lara.

The second instance is the unforgettable maiden Test century which came at The Oval in 2007. Kumble was known for his fighting qualities and had held on with the bat a number of times to help India. As India piled a huge total against England, Kumble make his ascent to the three figure mark. As he neared the milestone, the whole dressing room was nervous – with each member praying for the leg-spinner’s success. The moment arrived though – that too in a comical manner. Kumble charged to a widish delivery from Kevin Pietersen, reached out to it desperately and edged it under the keeper’s legs to the boundary. The old warhorse raised his bat with pride and acknowledged the ovation. His expression was one of fulfilment and one felt that he deserved it completely.

During the last phase of his career, Kumble was given the honour of leading India in Test cricket. He did lead them to a few great wins – none being better than the one at Perth against Australia. Coming into the game at the back of the controversial Test at Sydney, Kumble inspired his troops and kept them focused on the job. The result was a team effort that smashed perceptions that the Indian team wouldn’t last long at Perth.

Today, Kumble has moved into a territory rarely charted by former cricketers – administration. With his integrity and intelligence, one gets the sense of assurance and dependability – much like when he would bowl on the final day to win a Test. Nicknamed “Jumbo” by his team-mates, he would certainly give it a “jumbo” effort as he moves into a new role with the International Cricket Council (ICC) as the Chairman of the Cricket Committee. Kumble’s tryst with cricket isn’t over and perhaps more remarkable deeds are yet to come.

PHOTO GALLERY: HAPPY BIRTHDAY, ANIL KUMBLE

(Nishad Pai Vaidya is a Correspondent with CricketCountry and an analyst for the site’s YouTube Channel. He shot to fame by spotting a wrong replay during IPL4 which resulted in Sachin Tendulkar’s dismissal. His insights on the game have come in for high praise from cerebral former cricketers. He can be followed on Twitter at http://twitter.com/nishad_44)

West Indies tour of India, 2014

Oct 20, 2014 (14:30 IST)   at Kolkata

Pakistan vs Australia in UAE, 2014

Oct 22, 2014 (11:30 IST)   at Dubai

West Indies tour of India, 2014

Oct 22, 2014 (19:00 IST)   at Cuttack

South Africa tour of New Zealand, 2014

Oct 24, 2014 (03:00 IST)   at Mount Maunganui

Zimbabwe tour of Bangladesh, 2014

Oct 25, 2014 (09:30 IST)   at Dhaka

More

South Africa tour of New Zealand, 2014

Oct 21, 2014  at Mount Maunganui

South Africa won by 6 wkts

West Indies tour of India, 2014

Oct 17, 2014  at Dharamsala

India won by 59 runs

West Indies tour of India, 2014

Oct 14, 2014  at Visakhapatnam

Match cancelled

Pakistan vs Australia in UAE, 2014

Oct 12, 2014  at Abu Dhabi

Australia won by 1 run

West Indies tour of India, 2014

Oct 11, 2014  at Delhi

India won by 48 runs

Photos

Pakistan vs Australia, 1st Test at Dubai

Videos

AB de Villiers praises team after win in 1st ODI

Viv Richards’ 6/41 bowls West Indies to a thrilling victory over India

Asad Shafiq emerges as dependable No 6 for Pakistan

Pakistan vs Australia 2014: Mitchell Johnson shows signs of effectiveness on unhelpful surfaces

South Africa vs New Zealand 2014: Vital for Brendon McCullum to find form quickly

Australia Australia tour of UAE 2014 Australia vs Pakistan Australia vs Pakistan 2014 India New Zealand New Zealand vs South Africa New Zealand vs South Africa 2014 Pakistan Pakistan vs Australia Pakistan vs Australia 2014 South Africa South Africa tour of New Zealand 2014 South Africa vs New Zealand South Africa vs New Zealand 2014

Live Streaming: New Zealand vs South Africa, 2nd ODI at Mt Maunganui

Live Scorecard: New Zealand vs South Africa, 2nd ODI at Mount Maunganui

Live Cricket Score: New Zealand vs South Africa, 2nd ODI at Mount Maunganui

Pakistan vs Australia 2014: 1st Test sees disappointing crowd turnout

Virat Kohli spot-kicks raise money for charity in Indian Super League

Viv Richards’ 6/41 bowls West Indies to a thrilling victory over India

Asad Shafiq emerges as dependable No 6 for Pakistan

Pakistan vs Australia 2014: Mitchell Johnson shows signs of effectiveness on unhelpful surfaces

Joginder Sharma: When an over eclipses a career

South Africa vs New Zealand 2014: Vital for Brendon McCullum to find form quickly

Fan of the Day

Suraj Gowda

Suraj Gowda

642 Posts | 9 Fans

Virat Kohli's Family Meets Anushka Sharma

Bigg Boss 8 highlights: Contestants celebrate Diwali with Palak and Gutthi!

Xiaomi is migrating its international users’ data to improve service performance and strengthen privacy

How to make tamarind or imli packs for hair and skin

WTA Tour Finals Singapore 2014: Serena Williams retains hopes of semi-final berth after trumping Eugenie Bouchard

David Warner strikes back for Australia after Sarfraz Ahmed’s ton lifts Pakistan to 454 in 1st Test

Top Sex Positions: Frog Princess

Abhishek Bachchan, the surprise package in Farah Khan’s Happy New Year?

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg surprises Chinese crowd by speaking seemingly good Mandarin

Also on cricketcountry.com

Play Fantasy Cricket & Win

Cash Daily! Click here