St John's (Antigua): Former cricketers lauded ace Indian leg spinner Anil Kumble's decision to bowl with a fractured jaw in the fourth Test against the West Indies here on Sunday.
"Cricket has a way of producing inspiring tales of valour for the country and this ranks at the top," said legendary former India opener Sunil Gavaskar, who scored a world-record 34 centuries in 125 Tests. "The spirit, which is so refreshing, bodes well for Indian cricket. In the old days, they said the boys become men when they tour the West Indies." The 31-year-old spinner was struck on the jaw by a rising delivery from fast bowler Mervyn Dillon while batting on Saturday. He returned to bowl in the closing session of the third day, trapping batting genius Brian Lara leg before for four during his tight 14 overs to finish with one for 29. Former West Indies batsman Viv Richards also praised Kumble, saying it was really brave on the Indian's part to bowl after the injury.
"It was one of the bravest things I've seen on the field of play. It shows he is willing to take responsibilities as a senior member of the team," he said. Former India all-rounder Ravi Shastri said Kumble's appearance had lifted the morale of the team. "It was praiseworthy. It shows what a competitor he is. Such things lift the spirit of the team. What he did was for the team," Shastri said. "The team needed a couple of quick wickets to put pressure on the West Indies. That was India's only chance and Kumble was prepared to take chances even though he was in pain.
It was fantastic, outstanding." Indian team physio Andrew Leipus, meanwhile, said it had yet to be decided when the spinner would return home. "There's a fracture at the bottom of the jaw. He's going back to India for surgery. We've put the jaw together. Whether he goes tomorrow or day after is still to be seen," he said. "I consulted a few specialists. They were of the conclusion that it couldn't do much harm, unless he went out and broke it again.
The strapping was to hold the jaw together and minimise the chance of any further injury." He said Kumble had decided to bowl after having seen Sachin Tendulkar turn the ball in the second session. "When he saw Tendulkar turn the ball, he decided to go in. He saw that wicket had some turn and he's going to go in and give his best. He was already taking pain- killers," he said. "He asked what the chances were if he played. The doctors said there won't be much problem if the jaw was strapped together. "He rehearsed a few times in the dressing room. Then he jumped around a bit and he went for it. It was his decision. We never pushed him. We just told him if he was in pain, he must come back. He must not hang around."