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The man behind so many of India’s greatest victories in Test cricket, Anil Kumble, has announced his retirement from cricket. The news came as a shocker to the many million fans across the country, more to the thousands seated at the Delhi’s feroz shah kotla stadium. Anil, one of the pillars of the Indian spin bowling department said that the finger injury he sustained on the third day of the Test helped him make his decision. The news was made public minutes after the tea break on the final day; Kumble then bowled four overs before the match was called off as a draw.

His first ball was an accurate slider, hurrying Hayden into a defensive stroke. He was still desperate for one more wicket before he went. Had he got it, he would have been desperate for one more. He changed angles, he went over the wicket, round the wicket, then back over, and then round again. Every time he came close to beating the batsmen, his arms went up in the air. Every ball he bowled was meant to get him a wicket: the story of his life.

When he went to bowl his last over, Tendulkar took the cap from him to give it to Bowden. Remember the Kotla Test in 1999, when Tendulkar insisted he hand Kumble’s cap over to the umpire because that would bring him wickets? Kumble would later say: “When he took the cap he said, ‘I’ll do it this one last time’. It all started here in 1999, when he started taking the cap and said, ‘You’ll get a wicket in this over’. And it has continued till today. Unfortunately I didn’t get a wicket in the last over.” remembering the good old times he spent with his team mates.

“The body was asking questions every day,” he said. “It was not easy to keep bowling the way I have been bowling the last 18 years, to keep going. The injury I had on the third day probably helped me make the decision.” Anil announced clearing all doubts about being forced into retirement by the BCCI.

“The stitches will come out only on November 8, which is the third day of the Nagpur Test. I don’t think it was easy for me to bat or field. I wouldn’t have been 100% and I didn’t want to let the team down. Anyway I had more or less decided this would be my last series.” He added at the press conference where he was welcomed to a standing ovation by the journalists.

Anil has had his mix of ups and downs during his 18 year carrer. Whenever his critics put a question mark over his selection, Anil would come out stronger. The sight of Kumble emerging from the pavilion in Antigua six years ago, ready to bowl, his face bandaged, is one of cricket’s most inspiring moments. He sent down 14 consecutive overs and became the first bowler to dismiss Brian Lara while bowling with a broken jaw 😀 He was due to fly back to Bangalore the following day for surgery, and as he said, “At least I can now go home with the thought that I tried my best.”

Anil had announced retirement from the One day version of the game post India’s dismal performance at the 2007 cricket world cup. Anil was to also retire from the longer version when he sustained injuries to the shoulder. He was forced into to continuing by the selection committee guaranteeing a full year captaincy of the Indian national side. A truly passionate person that he is, accepted responsibility and took India to many a victories both at home and overseas.

Including the 613 wickets that Anil has picked, the highest by an Indian, Anil also has a hundred to his name. Included in the team as a genuine all rounder in 1990 Anil Kumble has been the stronghold to the Indian national side. Emotions were flowing at the Kotla ground in Delhi as Anil took a lap of honour around the ground post the match thanking the people for the support he was offered during his tough times. Anil was literally carried off the ground by his team mates as he went about doing so. Anil preferred being on the turf which he would probably call his second home as 3 out of the 10 man of the match performances of his career had been at the Feroz Shah Kotla, Delhi. Probably soaking in the emotions at the ground for one last time.

Nobody knows or understands Anil kumble more than Rahul Dravid. From the early days of playing Under-19 cricket with him, Rahul recalls his memories and experiences which he shared with him in this Cricinfo article.

Asked about how his departure would hurt the Indian team, Anil said: “The younger lot has emerged and proven to be taking up the responsibility. With a few seniors around them, Indian team looks to be shaping up well for the future.” Kris Srikanth has announced that MS Dhoni would captain the Indian side in the final test against Australia at Nagpur.

Ganguly is also to receive a heroes send off at the the next test after his decision of retiring at the end of the series. Anil also had made indications of his retirement post the series, however the decision came prematurely as he sustained a injury to the webbing between the little finger and the ring finger. Anil wished to be with the team during the final test match at nagpur to wish Laxman on his 100th Test match, Ganguly’s last test match. He however would not be traveling with the team, but said that he would definitely make it a point to be there in the dressing room bidding farewell to his life as a Cricketer.

For me, The Indian team is going to miss him. Not for the bowling, But for the passion and respect that he got into the game. Truly a gentle man of the team, Anil had never been a name in any controversies. The country is sad about the decision he made, but i guess it had to come one day. As Ajay Jadeja rightly said on NDTV:”There will be nobody to replace Anil in the side. U can play somebody in place of him, but not replace him. He was a legend and it’s hard to find a replacement for a legend.” I hope to see him back into the world of Cricket possibly as a Match referee for being a true ambassador to the game that is called Gentleman’s game.

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Kunal

PS: I wonder how the Indian team is going to par in the absence of the seniors. I once remember the Indian team getting bowled out for less than 200 in 40 overs when almost all of the senoirs were dropped. Are there youngsters ready to play the role of these elderly gentlemen. I don’t think so. We would end up being without the ‘Knock out’ punch just like the australians when all of the big names vanished from the team. Lets wait and watch.

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  1. November 5, 2008 at 8:26 am

    Very good post…

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