For more than a decade and a half, Anil Kumble has led India’s bowling attack. In his fingers, the 6 ft 1 inch tall, slim and cool cricketer had scintillating charisma.
‘Jumbo,’ as he was affectionately known, was known for providing a strong output graph of curves that only ever seemed to climb to new heights.
Kumble’s ball rushed through the air rather than floating in it, and landed with a kick rather than a kink as it reached the pitch, replacing the leg spinner’s proverbial yo-yo.
Background and early achievements
On November 30, 1989, Kumble made his first-class debut for Karnataka against Hyderabad. However, his career took off when he single-handedly led the Rest of India team to victory with 13/138, opening the way for the twin tours of South Africa and Zimbabwe.
He established himself as a quality and mystical spinner during the 1992 India tour of South Africa, finishing the tour as the top wicket taker from the Indian side, including his 6/53 figures in the second test in Johannesburg, a ground considered to favour fast bowlers.
When England toured India later that year, Kumble took 21 wickets in three tests and was named Man of the Match in the final test.
Rise to glory and high points in career
Kumble holds every bowling record in India. For the batsman, his googly and slight differences in flight were still a nightmare.
In 1999, he became just the second bowler in test history to take ten wickets in a single series, an achievement only Jim Laker accomplished in 1956.
In Antigua in 2002, Kumble’s remarkable sportsmanship was illustrated as he bandaged his broken jaw and returned to the field to give a stirring spell. His 6/12 bowling figures against the West Indies in the Hero Cup in 1993 are still the best ever by an Indian bowler.
In 2007, he was elected India’s test captain due to his never-say-die attitude. He captained India for 14 tests, winning three, losing five, and drawing the other six.
In a three-match series against Pakistan, he started his tenure with a 1-0 series victory. It was India’s first home victory over Pakistan in 27 years. In Perth in 2008, he also led India to a memorable win over Australia.
During his 18-year career, the Padma Shri and Arjun Award recipient played 132 tests and 271 one-day internationals, taking 619 and 337 wickets respectively.
After Muttiah Muralitharan and Shane Warne, the veteran bowler retired as the third-highest wicket-taker in test cricket.
After India’s humiliating exit from the 2007 ICC World Cup in the Caribbean Islands, Anil Kumble said his final ODI. Although he managed to play the longer version of the game, he retired from international cricket a year later, on October 28, 2008, midway through the third test against Australia in Delhi.
On October 12, 2012, he was voted Chairman of the ICC Cricket Committee after his retirement.
In June 2016, Kumble was declared the Indian cricket team’s head coach, a role he held for about a year. Even in his brief coaching career, Kumble performed wonders and led India to the top of the test rankings.
In the Test series, India defeated New Zealand 3–0, followed by a 4-0 victory over England. India went on to dominate on home soil, extending their undefeated test record to 19 matches.
Under Kumble’s leadership, India won two one-day series: 3–2 against New Zealand in a five-match series and 2-1 against England in a five-match series.