Anil Kumble announced his retirement from one-day cricket earlier today. And with him goes my last bit of interest in cricket.
I owe my interest in this game to my brother. He used to be a "cricket-maniac". I remember whenever he missed matches (because of school or coaching classes), he used to make me write the details (a personal scoreboard) in the notebook he used to maintain. If i m right, he has also written commentaries on his favourite matches in the same notebook.
During one of the matches he made me sit through, i saw Anil Kumble bowl. He was the highest wicket-taker in that particular match. I enquired my brother about him and came to know that unlike our other cricketers he is a qualified mechanical engineer. That impressed me (also his bespectacled look).
I don't understand the intricacies of the game cricket. It is like a reality show for me. Its fun to watch how cricketers behave during different complicated situations which arise during the course of the game. I remember an India-Pakistan match (not sure whether it was a world-cup match) in which Aamir Sohail hit a 4 on Venkatesh Prasad's ball and with a gesture, seemed to tell Prasad that he will hit another boundary on his next ball. Prasad kept his cool and did not react. On the next ball Sohail was bowled out. And, Prasad's reaction was worth watching. Only one word can describe it- "Aggression".
I don't remember watching Kumble in the same mood. The words i associate with him are "Responsiblity" and "Calm". Both of these were displayed in a match held at Chinnaswamy Stadium, Bangalore (Was that Hero Cup?) which saw the Kumble-Srinath match winning partnership. It was a miraculous win against Australia. At the time when India was 7 wickets down, it was a rare accomplishment by the "bowler-duo".
7th Feb 1999. Ferozshah Kotla, New Delhi. The date and venue are sufficient to remind any cricket-lover of Kumble's 10-wicket haul against Pakistan. It was a sunday. I dont normally sit through test-matches as they are very slow and less-happening (not to be taken offensively). Kumble had already taken 3(or 4) wickets. I stayed glued to the TV the rest half of the day and witnessed the performance.
I think it was this particular match which brought Kumble to fame. Till then, not much attention was paid to Kumble's consistency. Also, it was after this match that my friends and relatives started acknowledging my admiration for Anil Kumble. Earlier whenever i used to talk about him, i was asked to shut-up with comments like "When has he made India win?" & "What is his major contribution to Indian cricket?" Things changed after this match.
My friends and my brother congratulated me after this win (Sounds funny. Isnt it?) This is something usual for me. I m quite vocal about my feelings for my "Idols" and i try to defend them incessantly whenever things go wrong with their performance. Digressing a little from "Anil Kumble", let me just mention my liking for Aamir Khan. Anybody who knows me a little, will know about my liking for Aamir Khan. When Lagaan failed to win the Oscar, i had friends calling from different cities in order to cheer me up. That tells you how crazy i m. :)
Back to Kumble.
Anil Kumble has made all of us proud at various occasions. There is more to him than the "10-wicket haul". I hope we see more splendid performances in test cricket in the coming years.
Team India needs you, Kumble!