Anil Kumble has shown that he is indeed a super choice as captain of the Indian Cricket Team. With the recent goings on Down Under, perhaps the biggest positive is the way Kumble has come across, as he has played the role of captain. Throughout his cricketing life he"s known to be the reserved, quiet and understated cricketer. Displaying pure pleasure with every milestone crossed, but no fanfare to follow suit. Every achievement has been a quiet victory, for arguably one of the best spinners that the recent cricketing world has seen.
It"s a well known fact that the man from Karnataka has waited silently to be offered captaincy of the national side. There was no obvious statement from him, but there must have been a sense of frustration and rejection when the selectors over looked him every time the question of captaincy came along. But all that is in the past. And life has a way of springing up surprises. For Kumble, in the twilight of his career, he got the job he was hoping to get, while he waited on the sidelines for so many years.
Captaincy was awarded to him only for the Test team, as young MS Dhoni was already appointed the captain in the shorter versions of the game. But, then Test cricket is the real thing and Anil Kumble grabbed the opportunity with both hands. He knew it would be a challenge, and to tour Australia with a relatively young team, just added to the pressure and positive excitement that came with it.
But Captain cool, just walked into the new role, with the ease of a duck taking to water.
All this happened a few weeks ago, and the team has been dealing with rough weather ( pun intended) Down Under. What with inane umpiring and a few unsavoury happenings on that 22 yard pitch, it would be an understatement to say that it"s been a trying tour so far. The one man who would have to face the situations head-on would be the leader of the visiting team and captain Kumble has turned out to be a 'pro' at this.
In this short time he has proven to be an excellent ambassador for Indian Cricket.
Dealing with the recent racist accusations, to achieving landmarks, Anil Kumble seems to take everything in his stride. Reams have been written on that infamous, second Test at Sydney, but the one issue that lingered on was the Harbhajan and Symonds altercation. It is now a well known fact that Anil did try and sort things out with his opposition captain Ricky Ponting, who in very Aussie fashion, refused to listen to the mature Indian captain. The rest is now history. But with his deep one liners, Kumble says it all. He said that one must remember that the game is always and has always been larger than the individual. A sentiment that a true cricket lover would endorse completely.
Perhaps it"s his humility or tangible intelligence that are his most appealing characteristics. The 'gentle giant', is a discription that would suit him best.
His towering height and benevolent demeanour, makes him the most deceptive 'spinning assassin'. The recent most milestone reached is the 600 wickets. He became only the third bowler in cricketing history, to be a member of this exclusive club, the others being two other spinners, Muttiah Muralitharan and Shane Warne. At present it"s an all spinners club and Anil Kumble is now a proud member of it. In a statement to one of the numerous new channels, 'Jumbo' ( his appropriate nickname) said in his articulate manner that it was all about creating a doubt in the minds of the batsmen. For 18 long years he"s done that and a lot more. It was a sight to behold as he held up the ball that got his 600th victim, Andrew Symonds. Spectators fortunate enough to witness this live, applauded and those on the field shook his hand, and in the background an advertising hoarding, that had Warnie' written in bold letters, loomed large! All fitting in pretty well.
Statistics show that Anil Kumble has taken 124 Tests to achieve 600 wickets and we"re still counting. This has been achieved at an average of 28.67 and has no less than thirty five, 5-fors and eight 10-fors. Not to forget that historic Test match at the Ferozshah Kotla Ground in Delhi, where Kumble claimed all ten Pakistani wickets way back in 1999. Becoming only the second man in cricketing history to claim this feat, Jim Laker was the first to reach this landmark of ten wickets in an innings. Having witnessed that match, one can say with authority, that chills ran down the spines of many. For it was a moment that would live on forever.
But the statistic that really appeals and makes sense is one that says that among spinners, Anil Kumble is second best in terms of strike rate when the team has won. He has a strike rate of 44.1 in victories, with Muralitharan the best with a strike rate of 41.5. Needless to say among the Indian bowlers, when it comes to performing best when the team wins, Anil Kumble tops the list.
If you play the game for so many years, and when you play it like a champion, there are bound to be milestones. Ones that you will amass along the way. But what makes it all the more worthwhile, is the fact that if you are the kind of person who does all this with minimal fuss, it just adds to the overall picture. Anil Kumble is just that kind of person. Quietly with a smile that"s most radiant to himself he goes about his job. For he knows deep inside that he"s not only done it for himself, he has achieved it all for his country.
At age 37 there are still miles to travel and this is not the end. Kumble knows too well that with every passing day the challenges will pop up. But he must also know that he is a rare 'bowler captain' and with a certain amount conviction one can say that not many could have done a better job.
Here"s saluting the man, we just don"t respect as much as we should. And destiny has given us all another chance to make sure we revel in the exploits and performances of this superstar.
May this 'Jumbo' always fly high!