Will today’s match be Anil Kumble’s swan song ? The statements he keeps making indicate that it may well be. He will turn 40 this October. He retired from one-dayers in 2007 and tests and all forms of first class cricket in 2008. He has been playing only in the IPL in the last 2 years and he has oft repeated in jest that he is an old man and the T20 format is tough on his body. The onlooker may feel that it is just a 3 hour match and the bowler has to bowl only 4 hours but it is a lot tougher than the lengthier formats of the game. As a bowler, you cannot afford to commit a mistake, every ball has to be bowled right. And captaincy will just add to the pressure.
Jumbo as he is called debuted in 1990 and with age his technique and finesse just improved. He bagged all 10 wickets in an innings in a test match against Pakistan at Delhi’s Feroze Shah Kotla stadium in 1999. His dedication to the game cannot be doubted. It was the year 2002; a test match against the West Indies. Who can forget a heavily bandaged Kumble who came to bowl inspite of a fractured jaw? He is captain material but got to lead a Test team at the fag end of his career. The way he steered the test team and his stint as captain of the Royal Challengers Bangalore team speak volumes of his leadership.
His first IPL performance wasn’t impressive. But after he assumed captaincy in the 2nd IPL, his as well as the team’s performance improved. Sadly, last IPL they lost in the finals to Deccan Chargers and this season, they were defeated in the semi-finals by a very strong team, Mumbai Indians. They now have to fight Deccan Chargers for the 3rd place to qualify for the Champions League.
For his age, he has maintained tremendous levels of fitness and injuries have been few. Though seeing him play in the IPL doesn’t make one feel that he is tired out, he must be feeling the exhaustion of the many years he has given to cricket. Whether he will really call it quits and whether his franchise owner will let him go remains to be seen.
Author: Pratibha Shenoy (Bangalore)
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