Well bowled Anil Bhai: The man who adds value to lot more than just cricket-Anil Kumbleby KARTIKEYA KUMAR October 17, 2015
Cricketer, software engineer, ace photographer, wildlife conservationist, businessman, Anil Kumble’s life so far already has many lives within itself to inspire millions around the world who underestimate the potential of being a human. Right at the start of this year’s cricket World Cup, Kumble became the 4th Indian to be inducted into ICC (International Cricket Council) hall of fame. Such honors, including being a recipient of Padma Shri and the chairman of ICC’s cricket committee would keep following till the time ‘Anil Bhai’ decides to just hang up his boots and take to a rocking chair at his home in Bangalore.
‘Anil Bhai’ was how Indian wicketkeepers and close in fielders including Nayan Mongia and MS Dhoni used to address him (Bhai in most Indian languages means brother) respectfully, from behind the stumps to cheer him for more than 18 years in international cricket. Anil Kumble’s cricket exploits themselves are way beyond figures any average cricketer realistically estimates of achieving.
Talking of statistics, Kumble was the first spinner to 300 ODI wickets, third bowler overall (all being spinners) to 600 Test wickets, one of the only two to take ten wickets in a test innings, highest wicket taker in the 1996 World Cup, has the most leg before dismissals in Tests, and had one of the longest careers in the game in terms of number of appearances as well as career span by years. In the game of cricket itself, he was at least a bowling all-rounder, even though he played the most number of test innings in history before his maiden century and most matches before becoming India’s captain. Not to forget, he is Indian cricket’s biggest match winner with the ball in his hand.
And for those who started labelling him as an ordinary bowler outside the subcontinent, the Australian summer of 2003-04 was a reason enough to make them rethink. Even after retiring from international cricket, Kumble was a star performer and leader of his team Royal Challengers of Bangalore in the Indian Premier League for the two seasons that followed, RCB doing well in both seasons as well as Champion’s League T20 2010, which saw the last of Anil Kumble in competitive cricket of the highest standards.
He retired from all formats of the game at will, something which many cricketing greats have not been able to do, and even took breaks when he was not established, for example around the 1992 World Cup, when he decided to complete his graduation, rather than making himself available for selection. As a cricket administrator, Anil, along with his lifelong friend and teammate Javagal Srinath, worked selflessly and relentlessly to improve the standards of cricket in Karnataka at not just the highest level, but grassroots as well.
One thing that Anil Kumble maintained throughout his cricketing career was his interest in photography. Some of the best memories from his career and tours have been compiled in his book Wide Angle. Anil, along with his brother Dinesh and long term associates, runs Tenvic, a sports and business management company, which also partnered with Mumbai Indians in 2013, with Anil as their chief mentor, guiding them all the way to their maiden IPL title. By now you must have realized that anything this man touches does indeed turn into gold.
Anil Kumble’s dedication in giving his hundred per cent was something cricket fans can vouch for. During the West Indies tour of 2002, Kumble broke his jaw while batting, yet came out with a bandaged head to bowl his heart out. Some experts say his injury could have been fatal had he continued any longer, but India’s ace leg spinner put all of that behind to grab the wicket of one of cricket’s most fascinating batsmen Brian Lara, in his initial overs. Had he not dived in an attempt to catch one of the greatest bludgeoning batsmen of modern day cricket, Matthew Hayden, the third test of the Border-Gavaskar Trophy in October 2008 on his favorite ground Feroz Shah Kotla, wouldn’t have been his last. He split the web of his fingers, came back to bowl, introspected prospects of carrying on playing, derived that he might not be able to deliver his best anymore, and called it quits.
A lifelong vegetarian, Anil has time and again raised his voice for the conservation of environment, and has done. His love for animals and birds, combined with photography has always kept him busy on tours to Africa and alike, even when off the field. He has sponsored more than a giraffe in the Mysore Zoo and served as vice-chairman of the State Wildlife Board of Karnataka for a while in 2009. The key reason he keeps getting such positions is his credibility and unselfish urge to make the world a better place. That is perhaps the food for which his hunger will never be satisfied enough.
Anil Kumble can be spotted quite frequently in prestigious events in India as well as abroad as a guest speaker, whose speeches attract attention as well as applause. If Anil Kumble is not an inspiration and a worldly wise man, you are really looking up to someone outside this world. A gentleman to say the least, a fierce competitor and aggressive sportsman, a blemish-less celebrity, and one who is compassionate towards everything under the sun, a ‘gentle giant’ or ‘Jumbo’, which is his nickname, quite appropriately sums up the personality that Anil Kumble is.