Leaving On The Jumbo Jet

The match had been set up in the way that it used to be in the 90s.

Home test.

A strong Indian batting display.

A 600-plus score.

A slow spinning track.

As per the script we Indian fans were used to, Kumble would bowl about a hundred overs of sliders, top spinners and fast yorkers with an intense studious expression on his face. He would occasionally twist his face in frustration as the cover fielder would let one of his preys get off strike by being slow to bend down.

The stump mikes would pick up  shouts of “Aigaaaa”, “Is baar jayega” and “One more boys, one more”.

A few close leg befores would be turned down.

There would be deafening appeals every other over.

One dodgy bat-pad would be given.

Or perhaps two.

What however almost never changed, as per that 90s script, was that the opposing team would lose their 20 wickets, worn down by the grinding stone that was Anil Kumble and the next day’s newspapers would have a picture of Jumbo’s smiling visage with a stump in hand.

However this was 2008. The batting was still as emphatic, the score was 600+, the pitch as slow and as turning. Anil Kumble was also there. But time, that no-so-silent-thief, had worn down the great man in the same manner that Kumble had worn down generations of batsmen over the course of a glorious career. The seriousness, the intensity and the competitiveness was still there. But the deliveries lacked the bite and the spite of old as it was obvious that the battle weary shoulders had taken as much as they could take, a fact that had been increasingly evident since the Sri Lanka series.

And so Anil Kumble, as per character, quietly turned in his badge and walked away from the Indian cricket stage, turning off yet another of the brightest lights of India’s greatest cricketing generation. As the history books will one day say, the Dhoni era was to begin.

It has been one of Indian cricket’s greatest riddles why Anil Kumble neither got the mass adulation or the critical acclaim that his performances deserved. If one looks at India’s Test victories through the 90s and 2000s, one would see that in almost all of them Anil Kumble has played a leading role or at the very least had a very significant contribution. In that respect, his consistent contribution to Indian victories swamps out those of Tendulkar, Ganguly, Dravid, Laxman and Sehwag. By quite a margin. And yet by a very rudimentary metric, that of the number of Orkut users in their fan communities, Kumble’s following far lags those of his colleagues—-while Kumble’s leading fan community has 19,300 members, Tendulkar, Ganguly, Dravid, Dhoni and Sehwag have 400,000 , 112,000, 151,000, 81,000 and 26,000 members respectively. (Only Laxman with about 6000 fans is below Kumble).

One reason of course is that cricket is a batsman’s game and they typically end up with a large portion of the glory. But then, why does Wasim Akram have 34,000 members in his fan community and even a total gasbag like Shoaib Akthar, whose contribution to Pakistani cricket is insignifcant compared to Kumble’s to Indias, have about 20,000? [The numbers are even more skewed when you realize how many more Indians there are on Orkut as compared to Pakistanis who form the bulk of Akram and Akthar fans]

There are two reasons for why Kumble was never the superstar he should have been.

One is of course Kumble’s character—a quietly confident, studious man free of theatrics, dalliances with actresses and overt boisterousness who would rarely be found walking the ramp or shaking a leg with Shahrukh Khan.  The silent kind of performer who would, because of his nature and demeanor, never have girls hanging their posters in their rooms or have hordes of passionate supporters coming to the ground just to catch a glimpse of him in action.

The second is that Kumble was never a dramatic bowler. His armory lacked anything that had the flair of an Akram in-swinger or of a Waqar toe-crusher or of a Warne’s pitch-outside-leg-and-take-out-off-stump delivery or of Murali’s doosra. People wouldn’t bunk classes and slink away to the TV in the common room when he came onto bowl, unlike what they would do when Sachin came into bat.

Kumble’s weapon was his consistent intensity, his ability to keep on pegging away for hours and days on end till it would be the batsman who would snap. True it did not make for pretty cricket. At least not as pretty as when Warne or Murali bowled. This is why Kumble has always suffered when compared to two of his contemporaries or to his predecessors— Bedi and Prasanna and Chandrasekhar.

However if we change the criterion for greatness from the amount of spin that was imparted or from how visually pleasing one’s bowling style was to one of effectiveness (match-winning performances), only then can Kumble’s greatness be truly understood.

Unfortunately, it was this recognition Kumble never got during his playing days. Or at least not to the extent that he should have.

But now that he is gone and we can no longer take him as a “given”, maybe we will understand how important his grating accuracy and his relentlessness was to India’s performances.  In the Delhi Test, when Kumble was way below par, I think we already got a glimpse of the future—-that a Laxman double century or a sublime innings from Sachin count for little unless there is good old Jumbo to hammer in the nails on the coffin cover.

It is said that people recognize the worth of their teeth after they are gone.

Maybe we as a nation will do the same with respect to Kumble.

89 thoughts on “Leaving On The Jumbo Jet

  1. Very well said!!

    “It is said that people recognize the worth of their teeth after they are gone.

    Maybe we as a nation will do the same with respect to Kumble.”

    If Amit Mishra can do half of what kumble has done..I for one would be more than satisfied 🙂
    Hopefully the Indian team will have a smooth transition period now after Ganguly, Kumble and Dravid (On present form – After the England series) retire…

  2. I left this comment at another blog today…

    I found Kumble to be very persistent bowler, but I still haven’t understood why he was offered the captaincy. I guess Ganguly was still too toxic & Dhoni too new. I wonder how Ganguly would have done in those few series that Kumble was captain. Btw, our last 2 captains abruptly ended their captaincies, & the one before that got pushed out. Uneasy lies the head etc etc.

  3. We are in trouble. Who will take the 20 wickets for India now?

  4. Come on .. now we have Dhoni , his charisma will topple the 20 wkts … after all he is our saviour right !!

  5. Brilliantly put!

  6. hey, I always hung his poster in my room! do not under-estimate the smiling visage and quietly confident demeanor 🙂

  7. True. In India, flamboyance is always admired over persistence. Considering the muck that surrounds us, we need glimpses of fantasy. Not grinding mastery over reality. Which is why a Sachin or even a Jadeja will get more endorsements and a bigger fan following than a large-hearted soldier like Kumble.

    You may want to read my post on this in http://www.rameshsrivats.net

  8. Kumble is the greatest bowler cricket has ever produced. Actually, he should have been the highest wicket taker. At least 100 genuine appeals by Kumble were declined by the umpires whereas even appeals with remote possibility were gifted to Warne and McGrath by the umpires. Of course, we should always subtract 100 wickets from any Australian bowler’s record for the exact tally. If umpiring had been fair, Kumble would have ended up with 100 wickets more.

    Also, there is North Indian conspiracy that forced his retirement. Dhoni and Sehwag never score when Kumble captains the team. Ishant Sharma never bowls the fiery spells when Kumble captains. More over, the number of South Indians is decreasing in the team day by day. This is the main reason for his retirement. Because South Indians are very important for the Indian team. They are talented, hard working, skillfuly, gentle, decent yet they are not after endorsements and girls. They just want to play cricket for India. India could have definitley won matches without Tendulkar and Sehwag, but can you imagine Indian wins without Laxman, Dravid, and Kumble ? That is why selectors should at least now wake up and smell coffee. They should fill the Indian team with at least 7 South Indians to win consistently at home & abroad. Hope they get wise.

  9. Kumble is the thinking man’s bowler. While Ian Botham could bowl the occasional fas off-break, ad Wasim Akram could bowl six different balls in one over, Kumble is the only bowler who apart from his vast arsenal of variable bounce, could also deliver that toe-crusher-like and in swinger-like balls. Great guy! A true gem!

  10. I agree kishor. but maybe since coffee from the south – especially the fliter type is upstaging the lassi and the chai in the dresisng room, i doubt they’ll allow it’s smell to enter the dresisng room. hopefully now a public clamour will enable the release of my film Meerabai Not Out starring Anil Kumble.

  11. Well said. Kumble’s comparison to teeth is apt.

  12. And so Anil Kumble, as per character, quietly turned in his badge and walked away from the Indian cricket stage, turning off yet another of the brightest lights of India’s greatest cricketing generation…

    Amazingly put…

    Nice read… and you’d better keep your pen / pencil sharpened… soon you’ll have to write about Dada, Dravid and Laxman also…

  13. Arnab,
    Why dont you moderate out comments from people like Kishore. I was enjoying reading your post and was in tears literally when this happened.

  14. @ Anonymous (5.33 AM)… !!!!!

    @ Kishor… rocking post… totally agree… things should improve now that we have Srikanth as Chief Selector… and I like the part where you say “That is why selectors should at least now wake up and smell coffee”…. go for it man… at the drinks interval make it compulsory for every player to have only filter coffee… that should encourage more south Indians to join…

  15. Arnab,

    Well written as usual. Kumble was probably the last of the gentleman cricketers who played the game hard but never mixed up effort with antics.

    The Indian Cricket community could do well if it uses the enormous experience of Jumbo while grooming the new generation.

  16. Welcome back Koshor… After a long time we see a proper ‘Kishor-post’… And it rocks…

    All hail Kishor… 🙂

  17. This is to the post by Kishore:

    First things first. I believe that Anil Kumble was one of the greatest players this country has ever produced. A complete human being, an extraordinary worker, a tireless bowler, and a polite gentleman. No doubts about it.

    But what is with the North Indian bashing? Let me ask you something: my father is a North Indian from U.P, my mother is a Madhava Brahmin Kannadiga from Bangalore… what in the world would make me accept your sweeping generalizations. You, sir, are a person who gives South Indians a bad name. South Indians are known for their intelligence… and humility (my mother is a proud example of that). And my father is a kind and great-hearted man who believes in the best in people, unlike me, who completely expects to find intellectual primates like yourself. Do yourself a favour, stick to what you know.

    Enough about that. Kumble will be missed. Enough said.

  18. Good post.

    Your analysis is spot-on as to the reasons why Kumble is not more popular than many of his team mates. Kumble has always been the I-do-not-have-to-wear-my-aggression-on-my-sleeve-to-be-aggressive player. The media and, I must say, the public likes more sensational pictures/sound bites/antics on the ground. How many times have TVs replayed of the monkey incident vs. say, Walsh not ‘Mankading’ the non-striker?

    If all the players were gentlemanly, and all the strokes were textbook shots, and everyone applauded after a good performance and drank tea at tea… would cricket on TV be as interesting? Truly (and unfortunately), no publicity is bad publicity even in a gentleman’s game like cricket.

  19. I never ever liked Kumble..unfortunate but true…amazing stats he has but his bowling style was as entertaining as watching paint dry..
    His bowling average was 29.65 compared to warnes 25.41 or kapil devs 29.64…which is quite reasonable..however within these stats is the real story of how many top order batsmen they got out at crucial junctures in the game and against which teams…
    Kumble was doubly effective in India therefore inversely he was not really effective overseas..i would rate Harbhajan to be a more effective bowler..

    What was missing in Delhi was that Harbhajan was missing ..thats it

    With all due respect to his amazing record..it was time to go

  20. nicley drafted great bong..

    Whatever little knowledge I have about cricket, Kumbles contribution to Indian Cricket has been no less than the FAB 4 batting stars if not more.. I remember in 90’s and early 2000’s India had only one and half world class bowler (1 kumble 1/2 srinath)…

    Being a big fan kumble I still have regrets that he was denied from playing the word cup final in 2003 when players like Dinesh Mongia was the part of the team.

    But anyways its time that we stand up and salute by far the greatest Indian bowler of all time..

  21. Don Ayan de Marco November 3, 2008 — 8:29 am

    “It is said that people recognize the worth of their teeth after they are gone.”

    I agree to it totally,GB. In our country, this has been the mentality. This reminded me of a friend who commented “achha aadmi tha” when Amrish Puri passed away.

    Anyways, coming back to Kumble, his mere dedication and precision (God, did he use a drafter?) is a standalone quality that makes him a great. People argue that he didn’t spin the ball and was more of a medium pacer (his bowling speed is closer to Dada’s). But that doesn’t make him an ordinary bowler. McGrath wasn’t fiery but went on to take 563 wickets. But unlike India, he did not have to wait long for the support and recognition of the people there.

    According to me he is the greatest Indian spinner & in the world comes after Murali & Warne. The famous ‘spin quartet’ of India of the 70s took a total of 853 wickets in 231 matches that they have played. On the other hand, Kumble took 619 in 132. One could have imagined what his statistics would have been if he would have actually ‘turned’ the ball.

  22. Kumble’s contribution to Indian cricket has never been fully recognized by both the fans as well as the media.

    A man toils for close to 19 years with single minded dedication, bowls his heart out with a broken jaw and still gets one of the world’s greatest batsmen out, shows exemplary character and restraint leading the country during the ill-tempered Sydney test…
    Also lets not forget that he also has a test century to his credit(something which his great contemporaries Warne and Murali never managed)
    The list could go on and on…

    In spite of all this, one constantly hears statements like” effective only in India”,”doesn’t turn the ball”,”not a spinner but a medium pacer” etc etc

    I sincerely hope that the man finally gets his due at least now…

    Who can forget the Hero Cup final against the West Indies???

    Jumbo, wish you all the best for the future!!!
    It’s a void that will be very difficult to fill…

  23. Just one thing…I don’t remember Kumble endorsing any products…appearing in ads etc…
    Did he ever do that? endorse any product,was a brand ambassador etc?

  24. HAIL ANAL KUMBLE a.k.a Jumbo……

  25. Nice post. But I must say it lacks the intensity of ‘His Last Bow’ as expected.

  26. Just saw that gunda has an IMDB rating of 8.4. You might already know that.. 🙂 http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0497915/

  27. Read something this morning which is both horrifying, and explains why Kumble did what he did.

    According to Mail Today, curator Radhey Shyam Sharma of the Ferozeshah Kotla says the pitch was deliberately made lifeless to force Kumble into premature retirement, at the instance of ‘powerful members of the Indian cricket board’!

    “I made a perfect wicket which would have suited our spinners, especially Kumble,” he said, “There were a few cracks in the wicket and those were necessary to force a result.”

    According to him, a top functionary in the pitch committee “..filled the cracks with soil despite my protests. This also ensured that India was not able to seal the series against Australia here at Kotla.”

    Mail Today is a Delhi newspaper, a joint venture of the Daily Mirror and India Today — not some scurrilous rag.

    For the full story, go here — http://www.mailtoday.in/3112008/epaperhome.aspx. Or just log on to http://www.mailtoday.in

    In the light of this, my respect for Anil Kumble goes up even more.
    He created no fuss, did not lash out at his detractors, but just quit, quietly and immediately. He knows the Kotla wicket intimately, and must have figured out by the third day what had happened. Can you imagine how he must have felt?

    Clearly a man of true class. Which is more than I can say for the people behind this unspeakable deed. While this is speculation on the paper’s part, it mentions ‘a powerful lobby in Indian cricket that favours Mahendra Singh Dhoni..’, and later refers to ‘a powerful southern Indian cricket lobby (!!!)..led by a powerful BCCI office bearer.”

    How do these people get away with such things? And hats off to Kumble for showing immense grace in such sordid circumstances. God bless him!

  28. I think its an amazing post…
    Neel… grow up and dont pour ur frustatation over here….

  29. hmmm… Very apt for a ‘Pankaj Roy’ as one of the two ‘openers’ to inaugurate the comments section here…

  30. @ Satya…

    err.. thats ‘Anil’ and not ‘Anal’ Kumble…!!
    But some of the opposition batsmen might have just called him that (in jest) as he was quite a pain in their backsides…

  31. @ radical bong…

    read the article you have mentioned, and if true it is indeed horrifying. however, i would hesitate before believing it.

    some things don’t add up – e.g. the article mentions a powerful ‘south indian’ lobby. now if this lobby is south indian, they surely would favour kumble, but the article says that the lobby favored dhoni, and wanted kumble out.

  32. @ venky … yes quite a few… he was there is several pepsi ads.. I believe after India’s Australian tour his endorsement potential was speculated to be Rs 1 Crore…. also he did the Indigo Nation ad which has him hurtling down aisles hurling a ball.. … it wasnt as funny as Ganguly dancing in the Hero Honda ad… but was close…

    @kishor… typical post… but i just checked the records… dont agree on Ishant… but you have a point about Sehwag and Dhoni never performing when Kumble was captain… 😉

  33. @ saurabh somani:

    dont be so naive about indian board politics. for example, the present administration of bengal is anti-ganguly. furthermore, the power center of politics is in chennai right now and not bangalore, best indicated by srikants appointed as chairman of the selection committee. dhoni plays for chennai (yem yes dhoni..) and the title sponsors of the team are know for their deep involvement in cricket administration (the structure of tamil nadu cricket is notable for being primarily corporate team based as john wright mentions in his autobiography)..

    and tams and dighas hate each other with as much vengeance, as say, biharis and maharastrians. one fondly remembers the tug o’ war they had over veerapan.

    it is things like this and people like kishor that make india a truly remarkable country..


  34. @Saurabh

    Yeah, I was surprised by the ‘South Indian’ angle too. But I did take care to specify that it’s speculation on their part. Anonymous has pointed out a Chennai Super Kings angle which had not struck me. It’s quite depressing, really.

    The thing is, Mail Today has quoted the curator quite extensively, and I doubt that would have been totally fabricated. I have a few buddies in the media, and from what I understand, print media of at least minimum repute don’t put stuff on the front page without some concrete information. It’s not like TV in that respect.

    The other thing is, certain people have used this technique before — in Nagpur, where the curator was ordered to produce a greentop in a critical match against a team featuring Glen McGrath, Brett Lee and Jason Fleming. Unfortunately, Sourav reacted in such a way that while, I can understand his feelings, he became the villain, and no one ever asked questions about the bastards who betrayed us to score political points.

    In this case, Kumble has, as always, behaved like a perfect gentleman, so there’s no excuse. So I honestly think the culprits should be exposed, and at the very least, humiliated for being the traitors they are. That’s why I felt I should spread the word.

    Meanwhile, what are the odds that there’ll be a dustbowl which cracks up by day 3 in Nagpur this time?

  35. @peshwa

    Good call out that! Going by GBs popularity I wouldnt be surpised if we soon have a Mankad to join Pankaj Roy!


    Harbhajan more effectve? That should be a joke whichever way you look at it. For me, he remains a underperformare for all the initial promise and the talent he posseses. He could have been but is no Kauble league.

    As for Kumble, nothing really needs to be said, you just needed to watch his farewell yesterday, unprecedented. Choking teammates, senior journalists, immense respect from past greats, the present and future. I dont remember the Aussies using the same words to hail anyone, ever.

    I guess we all play for these things in any walk of life -admiration from Colleagues and utmost respect from the competition. The rest doesnt matter. Hes got it all and more and should retire a very content man! Bravo!

  36. Kumble was in Indian team for so long, no one ever spoke about Kumble’s replacement and was never dropped nor humiliated shows that he was well recognized and respected.

    It is difficult to survive this long in Indian circket team unless you are respected !

  37. Long live Jumbo , the great drilling machine of India. What is important about such a sportsman’s exit is the experience void that will result in the team. I hope someone comes strong and takes the bowling responsibilities that Kumble has handled gracefully for so many years. I believe Dravid , Laxman and Tendulkar are to follow soon after Ganguly leaves. After all these greats are gone in a short span , I guess , the comparatively older followers of indian cricket will move away from the screen and devote rest of their cricketing buds in the nostalgic chanting of the ancient greats called Jumbo , dada , dravid …

  38. @ radical bong and anonymous:

    guess i was just tryin to clutch at straws…. coz if true, this is too terrible to contemplate.

    and yes, of course, kumble has behaved like the perfect gentleman that he is. we would not have expected otherwise from him.

    truly, a champion and a giant till the end.

  39. Very nicely said GreatBong

  40. Well put! Even now when you go to a street cricket and when people win the toss they just blindly say “batting”. The common man likes the batting game.

  41. Satya
    Nov 3rd, 2008 at 8:57 am

    HAIL ANAL KUMBLE a.k.a Jumbo……

    WHAT!!! do you mean satya ? 😉

  42. I have nothing new to say about the content, but I apreciate the form. Very well-written, sir.

    Oh, there IS something new about the content. The opening – now that is a good touch. Hats off.


  43. @whoever said sehwag doesnt perform under kumble

    get a life dude. its sehwag who saved the adelaise test and won the galle test and scored that tripple hundred too under kumble’s captaincy. and ishant sharma is what he is today due to sehwag’s advice to Kumble after which he gave him one more over that resulted in ponting’s wicket(in perth).

  44. @neel

    …proud example of humility ………

    i shall be teaching my students about oxymorons with this superb example!

    welcome back kishor.
    when all eleven players are from south india they will be serving filter coffee to the eighty thou spectators in the eden and ‘madras tiffin and punjab snacks’ (near barrackpore station) will be ofering free masala dosas on match days!

    Oh for the golden days to come!

  45. I don’t think there is any kind of South Indian conspiracy in Kumble’s retirement because South Indians will never involve themselves in such bad things. South Indian are very sincere, they will never tell lies, and it is impossible for South Indian to do such things. It is only North Indians’ conspiracy to suppress South Indians. They don’t want South Indians in the Indian team.

  46. GB, Very well said. I think Kumble has personified perseverance and quiet resolve more than any other human being India has ever seen. And yes, the nation will see how critical he was now that he isn’t around to play.

    P.S.: It is tragic that the comments on your blog begin to resemble the hate-filled comments ala-rediff with alarming regularity. Wonder what kind of a nation we have become. 😦

  47. Don Ayan de Marco November 3, 2008 — 7:57 pm

    @Kishore: Pity you! I have heard your story from many people. Once upon a time the board cheated you and took Nikhil Chopra instead. No wonder you have such feelings for the North Indians.

  48. Pah!! Kumble took away what should have been Ganguly’s swansong hehe.

    But yes, one of the greatest bowlers of all times.

  49. This was a great tribute to anil Bhai.
    well he never got the due respect for his performances but he was never underrated also.

    I wish him all the best.

    and grt post GB

  50. BCCI and cricket politics in India might just now get the attention of a certain Mr Bhandarkar … any suggestions for title of the film ???

  51. I wonder whether Amit Mishra is good enough to replace him. But he can be given his chances. Regarding Kumble, of course it was always a pleasure to watch him. But from a populist view, you’ve got it all right, Arnab. He never generated that hysteria.

    Being given the captaincy of the Test side at an age of 36 speaks a lot about his “silent performer” image.

  52. Kishor – Nice to have you back! lol. I would look forward to your views on Vijay, the TN opener. I noticed him when he scored a century on debut and then watched him a bit in the Challenger series, looks technically correct but a flamboyant opener.(Hes unbeaten on a double against Maharastra. [Ongoing -Ranji])

    Would you hedge a bet that hes soon-to-be India opener with Srikkant being the chief Selector!

  53. @ Deeps

    You are the one who is actually joking mate…for every one time that Kumble actually produced a winning performance there are ten instances when he was blocked & hammered by the opposition. The fact is that since he does not spin the ball, the only factor he has to unsettle batsmen is variable bounce, which fails on consistent wickets.
    Do u remember the sydney test in the 2003-04 series where on the last day Ganguly gave Kumble the ball throughout the day and tried to close the match but alas…consistent bounce… failure..compare that to the number of times Harbhajan has struck crucial blows to destabilise Australia aka the famous eden victory.

    Sadly statistics are very inadequate to describe the real value of a player. Anyways he was a pretty boring bowler anyway..there was nothing spectacular about watching him bowl.
    That said he had good control of line and length for a medium pacer..oops..spinner.

  54. @Shouri,

    You could easily be one in a million, and it takes all types of folks to make this world. Pointing out Harbhajans stats wouldnt exactly be the right thing to do like you rightly said, it doesnt always do full justice to a players contibutions. Also, comparing the two for me would be unfair coz they are no where in the same league. One is master the other a understudy by his own admission.

    But then, 19 years at the international level, 950 International wickets and a strike rate of 4.7 wickets per test played (Shane Warne does marginally better at 4.9 per test) speaks for itself.When you think of Harbhajan you think of his 32 wickets in 2001 series, subsequent to that hes done as well only sparingly.

    And, as for Kumbles overseas record, it was a fair criticism till the turn of the millinium, past that hes done as well as anybody, the Aussie tour when he returned with 24 wickets in 3 tests being case in point. As for Harbhajans overseas record, hes got one worse than Kumble. He averages nearly 40 per wicket outside India, while at home he averages just over 25.

    But, Kumble is not just about that as many thankfully have righty pointed out. Like Laxman and Peter Roebuck pointed out its about running backwards and catching a tail ender with a stitched hand when the rest were dropping sitters.(Laxman himself and Ishant dropped one each) . Hes about endurance and persistence and steely grit. Hes widely recognised as the fiercest of competitiors by the opposition be it the Aussies, the South Africans et all. But his aggression has never led him to the match refrees room even once over 19 years. Not many Indians can boast of that.

  55. @ Shouri –

    To add, as for match winning abilities go, I guess nobody would grudge him the greatest Indian match winner tag. Not even Tendulkar. And therein rests the case, in two sentences.

    You could scrutinise stats or talk from memory but you cant deny him that.

  56. Well done great Bong! Thanks a Lot Anil Bhai for being a consistent performer for India.

  57. I wrote my farewell post for Jumbo and set about to check other reads in the blog world. Sadly there was not much. And then I came on to your blog. Fortunately, as always, u did not disappoint 🙂 Thank you sir

    PS: I was expecting a mention of Antigua 2002.

  58. Great tribute. I can only imagine what the Ganguly retirement post will be like.

    Kumble has always been my favorite bowler.

    My favorite moment will always be the 6/12 at the Hero Cup and of course the 10 for at the Kotla.

    Will definitely miss him.

  59. @shouri:

    Just thought it is time to refine your cricket knowledge a bit!
    On your question of Sydney test match, I think you do remember kumble bowling all day but you have all too conveniently forgotten that India would have won that match easily if a certain wicketkeeper called “PP” had taken all the chances off kumble (including stumping of gilchrist). Also, for your kind information, Bhajji has flopped miserably outside India, and there was a certain, orthodox, big spinner of cricket ball called Murali karthik bowling frm the other end in Sydney and failed miserably.

    There are other instances when kumble has given India and lead India to victory against aussies (e.g. 5 wickets on first day of melbourne test match last year, something which your fav bhajji can’t accomplish even in his dreams!!)

    Don’t use facts selectively to prove your obviously biased view, it only highlights your ignorance.

  60. Hi GB,

    Well written as usual. A fitting tribute to a great ambassador of the ‘gentleman’s game’.

    I generally don’t leave comment on your blog because by the time I would get here, 50 comments would already have been made. But somehow, your blogs on cricket seems to elicit one from me.

    Anil is probably one of the most underrated Indian cricketer (which is surprising in India where even one-match wonders like Kanitkar becomes a star). There are many qualities one can immediately attribute to Anil – perseverance, consistency, team-man, integrity, humility. And, for his cricketing intelligence, I thought he was made captain a lot later than he deserved.

    But alas, he lacked the flamboyance that the mass expects of a champion. It seems the Australian legspinner Arthur Mailey once remarked, “I’d rather spin and see the ball hit for four than bowl a batsman out by a straight one.” And unfortunately, that has been a big reason for the general lack of acknowledgement to his achievements. He shall and will remain one of the biggest match-winners for India, in the minds of people who appreciates the nuances of Test cricket and who followed it in the 1990s and 2000s.

    Harbhajan’s avg: Home 26.58 in 39 matches; Away 39.69 in 32 matches; Overall 30.96
    Kumble’s avg : Home 24.88 in 63 matches; Away 35.85 in 69 matches; Overall 29.65
    Also note that Harbhajan has played more (in percentage) matches in India than Kumble.
    I am not saying Harbhajan is not a good bowler, but refuting the statement that he is more effective than Kumble.

    Don’t even want to comment on the pitch controversy 😦 Here’s hoping that Anil gets a 5-wicket haul (in an inning) or a 10-wicket haul (in the match) on his last test.


  61. Whoaaaaaaaaaaaa! What do I see today! I can predict!! Vijay is in for Gambhir! lol.

    KIshor – We’re well on the way to a South Indian Team!!;)

  62. @ Calvin

    One of the many problems that Indian cricket faces is an abundance of Armchair critics such as yourself who think that they have immense knowledge of the game without having played a single competitive match yourself even at school level.

    “There are other instances when kumble has given India and lead India to victory against aussies (e.g. 5 wickets on first day of melbourne test match last year, something which your fav bhajji can’t accomplish even in his dreams!!)”

    The above statement by you shows the delusional ignorant zone that you live in. Those 5 wickets DID NOT lead to an indian victory. In fact india lost that test comprehensively. To highlight your “knowledge” some more, there is no way someone who seriously follows cricket can forget the final day of the Historic Eden test match when bhajji damaged the aussies fatally. Why only Bhajji there have been many indian bowlers, like Manoj Prabhakar and kapil Dev himself who have been really effective bowlers but not even got half the good treatment Kumble has.
    What do you have to say about Kumbles amazing fielding or is that being selective as well??

    @ Salil
    Very good statistics quoted..note there is a difference of 10 between Kumbles home and away average..which is 35.85..in a nutshell he was very very average overseas. Not the amazing messiah he is being touted as in this forum.

    @ deeps
    It does take all sorts of folks to make the world, including conformists and the statistics obsessed. In any case Harbhajan is one of the many bowlers i could quote of whose careers have been negatively impacted by the great kumble. time and again promising young spinners and even medium pacers..) have struggled to make this side cos Kumble was an automatic selection.

    In a nutshell without the 4th & 5th day breaking inconsistent pitches of India, Kumble was not the brilliant genius you hold him up to be.

  63. Couldn’t agree more with you!
    Especially on “It is said that people recognize the worth of their teeth after they are gone.”

    Here’s the perfect 10 for all you nostalgic fans:

  64. @ Shouri.

    Negatively impacted? Lol. I guess Harbhajan has played consistently ever since hes got in. Hes never lost his place to Kumble!! I can imagine a Maninder Singh, a Narendra Hirwani, an Anantapadmanabhan or even a Sivramakrihsnan saying that. Atleast ponder a little before you jump the gun. Harbhajan has bowled as much as Kumble over the years since debuting.

    (Ps: I guess it was Siva or Maninder who admitted to living in his shadow but had the humiility to say tthat Kumble never dropped his guard and kept his place deservingly – Source- On commentory during the last test – Neo Sports)

    Now thats what I mean admiration from peers. Not just glowing tributes from the Tendulkars and Laxmans but from your competitors.

    On to the other flimsy arguement of yours, I wonder how much is enough! I can point innumerable times when Shane Warne couldnt win Test matches or Lara’s batting was not enough or Sachins reluctance to deliver when it mattered most.

    You should measure it the other way round – Number of matches helped to win.( Guess this inability points to your negative start-point and conversely your thought- process) Now as I said before, every tribute of Kumble hails him to be Indias greatest match winner. Its his single biggest call out point. If you are an as avid follower of Test Cricket you will not have to listen to everybody who matters in Cricket but jog back the memory lane and you’ll have to agree on that. I dont think Gavaskar, the 70s spin quartet or the Fab four of Indian batting compares favorably there. I dont know the stats here but what I’m very sure is it would only support the arguement.

  65. @ Deeps

    lets look at your very positive thought process then and point out how many matches kumble has won single handedly then..besides that amazing jayprakash episode where he knocked over the pakis…much as i hate the pakis and laud kumble for that..not too many other performances come to mind..

    your flimsy thought process can be borne out by Kumbles overseas avg of 35 ..making him quite avg..

    anywayz..i suppose u and millions such will still pray at his altar..boring as it may be

  66. @shouri:

    Apologies, that was a typo on my part (aussies 5 wicket at melbourne)- what I meant was that 5 wicket hall on first day pitch in aus is something which bhajji cannot even dream of. Dont get too worked up on it.

    Frankly, I think I made the point sincee you made no effort to defend your bhajji fascination and more over could come up with ONLY ONE instance (or ok make it 2 if u count the last test match) of bhajji doing anything great against Aussies.

    And yes FYI, I did play school level cricket (till district level infact):), i guess u must have played at some club level atleast, heh?

    Amazing fielding? can you tell me how many sitters he has dropped or were you blind (or may be lookin at bhajji’s poster, ahem!) that you missed his return catch in kotla with 11 stitches?

    All your arguments so far have been flimsy and made up. 35 average overseas?? Ever seen shane warnes/murali’s avg in India or for that matter even murali’s (and ur fav Bhajjji’s) avg in Aus. Do a basic sanity check atleast.

    Negatively impacted careers, LOL, hello? whose? Everyone know got enough opprtunities (LSR, Hirwani, Kartik ,Raju, Joshi, Bahutule etc they all played alongside kumble) – they just failed to make the best of it. BTW ARE you one of them by any chance 😀

    And single handedly won matches? Its impossible to do so and prove. Guess you are forgetting cricket is a TEAM game and others will play a role. But, he did play a SIGNIFICANT role in most of the 40 indian victories and had 10 MOM (next only to SRT).

  67. Dude Kishor For The President!

  68. @Shouri:

    My argument was on Harbhajan not being more effective than Kumble.
    As you see, Harbhajan has a worser average (31.0) than Kumble’s (29.6) in spite of playing more percentage of matches in India, has worser away average (39.7) than Kumble’s (35.8) and worser difference between away and home averages (13) than Kumble’s (11).

    Regarding Kumble being touted as the amazing messiah in this forum, is a different topic, on which there is no dispute in the cricketing world (I am talking about international cricketers and not armchair critics like me) that he is the greatest spinner India has ever seen (and that my dear friend, is ‘relative’ compared to other Indian bowlers).

    Have a good day.


  69. @ Calvin

    Apologies accepted…i guess u were too distracted going through the volumes of posters of Kumble in his various avatars that u have stowed away in your room…)

    Perhaps that explains the lack of Kumble posters avilable…since you and your kumble loving brethren would have hoarded all the precious posters betn yourselves..

    BTW i have played club & district level india and played club level in Aus…was not a spinner to be denied by the great messiah of spin/non spin/medium pace….was an opening bat and found genuine turning spin to be a tough thing to play even in non spinning wickets

    With due respect to Kumble for being a dedicated cricketer my point is he was not the brilliant extraordinary spinner you make him out to be and conversely in my opinion most of the arguments u put forward to support this point are pretty slim or shall i say flimsy..

    One catch does not undo the decades of watching kumble fall over the ball like a retractable bridge over a small yacht pasing underneath…and even dedicated kumble tragics like urself will probarbly agree to this…)

    @ salil

    My dear friend …like i said before the ‘worser’ average of Harbhajan is not the point…he is not great by any standards…but his average is not too much ‘worser’ than kumbles..therein lies the logic of him not being a far superior bowler to bhajji…

    Anywayz this test is dadas last…a fact that breaks my heart…i choke as i write these words but i cannot imagine not seeing dada ever play again…

  70. @ Shouri

    I shall not go further. I guess you have exposed yourself enough for me to know I cannot reason with you! But I will take one final (pot) shot at you. hehe.

    I guess you were in your diapers through the 90’s when Kumble was wrecking havoc from one oppositon to another. I’m just too lazy to get you the stats but remember seeing some 40 odd test match statistics of Indian wins and Kumbles contribution in those. So much for you Cricket knowledge – you dont seem to know much apart from 3-4 series India has participated in.

    As for the overseas record, its an acknwoledged fact that he didnt do as well overseas in the first half of his career but then its also an acknowledged fact that hes done far better in the second half of his career athough hes no world beater there. But then, everey great has an albatross around his neck. Be it Sachin, Lara, Warne or any other. That doesnt discount thier contributions.

    To conclude, like Salil above says, you are an armchair critic and so am I! Its best left alone to people who have played at the International level and for long and have distinguished themselves. They seem to disagree with you! Period.

  71. “I guess we all play for these things in any walk of life -admiration from Colleagues and utmost respect from the competition. The rest doesnt matter ”

    “… you are an armchair critic and so am I! Its best left alone to people who have played at the International level and for long and have distinguished themselves ”

    Rightly said, Deeps

  72. @ Deeps

    in that case heres my parting pot (shot) at u …..on the contrary it looks very much like u were in your diapers even in early 2000’s …an ‘acknwoledged’ fact is that kumble would have been soundly axed from the Indian cricket team prior to the to the 2003-04 series had it not been for gangulys insistence to persist with him…another ganguly mistake like his taking on Greg chappell..

    Kumbles performance after the azhar era had sunk to pretty average..btw another reason why i dont quote stats from the 90s is thanks to azhar..one just does not know how many matches were ‘genuinely’ played, won or lost in those dark times for indian cricket..when amazing players like nayan mongia ruled the roost…even an armchair critic with very little cricketing knowledge would be aware of that ‘period’..cheers mate and enjoy dadas final test

  73. @shouri:

    I’m butting in, but let’s just examine (very briefly) two opinions you seem to hold.

    1. Kumble is boring to watch

    Fair enough. Many people think so, as I do, and it’s subjective.

    2. Kumble is a mediocre bowler

    – He is the 3rd highest spin wicket taker in the world.
    – His average compares favorably with the best bowlers in the world.
    – He has got 10 wickets in an inning.
    – He has got 10 MOMs.

    Mediocre? I guess any team in the world will be happy to get such mediocrity playing for them.

    That’s it. Thanks.

  74. @ Shouri- Sure, enjoy the last test! Ganguly is batting well!

  75. @ Shan

    Kumble is not exactly mediocre…he is definitely one of the better bowlers for India to grace the arena…in fact he is quite a dignified and fair individual..however he is probarbly not the genius messiah most players in this forum make him out to be..thats pretty much it

  76. BTW..just wanted to say DADA ROCKS….GO DADA…hammer that nail into the kanagaroos

  77. Of the many tributes, me has been reading about Kumble, this one ranks as perhaps the best. Great opening and fitting last words to wrap up the career of a man who wore India’s colors, after earning them, match after match. I admired him more after that Antigua Test which is now part of cricketing lore.

    As for the fans of cricket, you could perhaps read more on my website.

    Keep the faith, Arnab.:-)

  78. @shouri

    “..btw another reason why i dont quote stats from the 90s is thanks to azhar..one just does not know how many matches were ‘genuinely’ played, won or lost in those dark times for indian cricket..when amazing players like nayan mongia ruled the roost…even an armchair critic with very little cricketing knowledge would be aware of that ‘period’”

    Just to make your stupid point, you taint India’s Test history of the 90s!! Let aside the fact that all the alleged fixed matches have been ODIs, it is prepostorous to malign an entire decade of performance just to prove to the world that Kumble was a mediocre bowler. Not just Kumble, you are now tainting the records of Tendulkar, Dravid, Ganguly, Srinath and many other players. Seriously, what the f*** have you been smoking? Or is it that you are so pigheaded that you choose to ignore facts just because you have made up your mind on a thing?

  79. Without getting into the south-north debate, I have to point that Sehwag needs to be left out of this under-performing business. The man is truly a valiant soldier for the Indian team – you cannot forget his urging Ishant to bowl that extra over wwhich nailed Ponting. The way he used his clout as Delhi captain and his brilliant cricketing instinct on behalf of Kumble, was heart-warming. This, when he was not even the Vice-Captain.
    Yet, we celebrate guys like Dhoni, who park their leadership skills and insticts when being Vice-Captain but turn it on easily when they are captain.
    Indeed, Sehwag, not Dhoni should have been the new captain – I believe values are more important than results – and Dhoni lacks in basic values like putting the team’s interest above his – such as suggesting ideas to his jaded captain when required. Being Wicket Keeper and Vice Captain, both of whom are required to do this, it is mind-boggling that Dhoni got away with not helping his captain.

  80. @ Dhananjay Mhatre

    To see the language u use it is pretty clear who the pigheaded stupid oaf is mate….whatever the %…’n s… u have been smoking has certainly got to your head….even with differences in opinion no one in this forum used the explitive filled language u have used…even if you disagree with what i have to say… the debate can be carried on in a civilised manner….as it was until idiots like u come to this forum..muzzle whatever orfice the language comes out off u idiot..perhaps its a bit too much to expect from u and ur type…

  81. Hats off to Dhoni for his 2 brilliant gestures to let Ganguly captain the side for the remaining few overs and call up Anil Kumble to the dias while collecting the trophy.

  82. @Gaurav

    I’m sorry for displaying my… immaturity in providing a real-life example of something I believed in. I’ll take care not to offend you further, I’m sure you realize how much your approval means to me :p. By the way, I thought the post was excellent too, if you’d paid attention, I was responding to comments on the blog. That IS still allowed right :p ?

    Anyways, no more rants from me. Kumble was the epitome of gritty hard work, and (if for nothing else) he should be saluted as such. Just in case I’ve failed to convince people about what my opinion on Kumble is :).

  83. very well said!
    enjoyed reading the post….

Have An Opinion? Type Away

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this:
search previous next tag category expand menu location phone mail time cart zoom edit close