I was busy for the past two days and hence couldn't post anything for this test so far. Even today, I wasn't really inclined to spend some time on this blog as there has been other pressing work. But one my regular readers IM'ed me stating that he was looking forward to post his own comments and was disappointed that I hadn't posted anything. Thanks Agnel for the encouragement
Agnel always goes over the moon whenever someone from Karnataka does well. I'll never agree with the sentiment. An Indian is an Indian is an Indian. Nothing more. Nothing Less. But this post is about Indian cricket team's greatest matchwinner has been an decent gentlemanly unassuming bloke from the state that Agnel loves.
The media and the fans have all been crazy about our batsmen. Sachin Tendulkar, Saurav Ganguly, Rahul Dravid, et al. But, there is no doubt in my mind that Anil Kumble has won more matches for India than all the above put together. Whenever India needed a wicket, whatever the conditions, whatever the state of the game, all Indian captains invariably turned towards Kumble. And he has rarely disappointed. Most times he has bowled long spells. Really long spells. And has not complained. Never. Not even once.
He doesn't have the turn of a Warne or a Murali. Some snigger and comment that he doesn't even spin the ball. There are a host of people who will tell you that he is a medium pacer. Sure, he is all of that. And some more.
But you can't argue with the numbers in the wickets column. 561 wickets in Tests and still counting. 337 wickets in ODIs. That's almost 900 International wickets in a career spanning 17 years. And the wickets have come against all teams. Top order, middle order, tail ender. All of them have succumbed.
He doesn't spin the ball? Sure. He is medium pace. Sure. You mean 900 times batsmen couldn't figure out a bowler who bowls medium pace and doesn't spin the ball? I'll have this bowler in my team any day rather than those who spin miles or those who bowl express pace. For make no mistake, Anil Kumble is a fighter. And a matchwinner. And keeps on coming and coming and coming at you.
Almost two decades of playing. And no controversies. No lewd SMSes. No accusations of "chucking". No ambitions of becoming a captain. Never indulged in groupism. He has always played fair, but played hard. There has been no better ambassador of cricket and India than this gentleman.
And in the twilight of his career, when he has announced his retirement from ODIs and is about to pass on the baton to a Piyush Chawla, Anil Kumble has achieved something that most top bowlers dream of. Warne and Murali couldn't do it. And that's a Test ton.
This Test Ton (at the Oval during India's tour of England in 2007 in the 3rd Test) is special. This is the only Indian century in the entire series. And it has probably come in the last Indian innings of the series (I don't think India will bat again). And it has come from someone at No. 8. And the Test Team for all the matches in this series had some heavy weights like Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar, VVS Laxman and Saurav Ganguly. Yet, the lone centurion in this series has been Anil Kumble.
Let's all stand up and applaud this man. For he will not have the fans screaming. He will not have the media eating out his hands. But he has been Indian cricket's greatest servant. At the end of the day's play he said the celebrations will come only after India wins this Test. And there's still 3 more days to play. He has always put the team before himself.
I salute this guy. And may we have some more cricketers like him.