During my time with the Indian cricket team, I lost count of the number of tongue-lashings I received from Anil Kumble, yet he remains a personal favourite, and my ultimate role-model.
Those reprimands on the field were primarily related to the batsmen taking a single off his bowling, while Yuvraj and I stood at the two most critical fielding positions- point and cover. No matter how earnest our efforts, more often than not, Anil bhai wasn’t impressed.
To me, Anil Kumble is the epitome of grit, determination and pure hard work. He would never give an inch on the cricket field, and expected no less from his team-mates. And so, even if there was a one percent chance of stopping the batsman from rotating strike, it had to be grabbed.
We lovingly refereed to him as Jumbo, but quite frankly on the cricket field he showed a heart of a Lion.
It’s precisely this dogged approach that Anil Kumble displayed during his 18 year long international career that will benefit the Indian team when he takes over as coach. Let me explain:
It’s not uncommon nowadays to see bowlers up in arms about the playing conditions: seamers tend to get upset when the ball doesn’t swing, spinners feel aggrieved when the pitch isn’t turning, and home captains/coaches breath fire when the pitch isn’t prepared to their liking.
How often did Anil Kumble complain?
Indian captains employing Kumble from one end for the duration of an entire day of Test cricket, was a common sight throughout his playing career; Jumbo would have his good days and a rare bad day, yet throughout his energy-sapping spells the intensity and energy would never drop; more importantly he would never blame the conditions for his failure to pick wickets on a given day. You could ask him to bowl on concrete for that matter, and Anil Bhai would do it- no questions asked.
This is where Anil Kumble can help the current crop of Indian bowlers: teach them the art of fighting the conditions along with the opposition.
But Kumble’s biggest contribution as coach could well be helping the batsmen more than the bowlers:
Whilst I’m in awe of the current crop of Indian batsmen and their stroke making abilities ,one can’t help but notice their weakness against quality spin bowling (Moeen Ali picking 19 wickets in the last India-England was nothing short of a catastrophe) Virat, Rohit, Shikhar et al are perhaps the best attacking batting line-up in world cricket, but evidently they enjoy the ball coming onto their bats, helping them play some jaw-dropping strokes; they might yet to learn the craft of playing quality spin on turning tracks.
And who better than one of the best spinners ever to play the game to teach the gen-next the art of playing quality spin on turning tracks.
(Mohammad Kaif is considered one of the finest fielders India has ever produced. His match winning knock in the finals of the NatWest series vs England in 2002 and leading India to the under-19 World Cup title in 2000, were his finest moments on the cricket field.)
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed within this article are the personal opinions of the author. NDTV is not responsible for the accuracy, completeness, suitability, or validity of any information on this article. All information is provided on an as-is basis. The information, facts or opinions appearing in the article do not reflect the views of NDTV and NDTV does not assume any responsibility or liability for the same.