Monday, December 19, 2005

Kumble's ton

I don't quite know what to make of Anil Kumble. Is he India's greatest bowler? Statistically, there is no doubt about it. And honestly, I do not know who I would place ahead of him. I'm tempted to put the young Kapil Dev ahead of him but he didn't have the longevity of this man (Kapil looked absolutely ghastly in his last few years and I really wish he had retired 30 tests before he did - he would have left much better memories).

The problem with Kumble for me is just that one thing, that one little bugbear. He hasn't done well abroad, and given India's problems in winning tests abroad since 1986 (when we beat England 2-0 in England), its clear to me that part of the reason we didn't win abroad was because when your main strike bowler and spearhead's style of bowling doesn't travel well, neither does the team (I'm leaving aside the Indian team's horrendous habits against pace attacks).

On a personal note, I've found his amped-up reactions to fielding off his bowling to be in quite poor taste. Given that he isn't a particularly good fielder himself (some of the most amusing fielding efforts I've seen over the years have come from 'ol Kumbles himself), his reactions seem a bit excessive.

Still, all said and done, when you're playing a test at home, he is the man. And I don't doubt that he is a fighter - which is more than what I could have said about many players in Indian teams over the years. I'm not quite sure why his batting fell off after his 88 at Eden Gardens in 1996, but in tight situations its good to have him around.

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