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Kumble is “Extremely Extremely, Extremely, Tough!"
by Boria Majumdar
Dec 26, 2007
As he walked into the end of day press conference with a glint of smile in his tired face, scribes from all over India now in Melbourne started pressing for that proverbial exclusive byte.

Anil did not mind the requests but politely and earnestly put up a stoic satyagraha, “too tired to even speak!”

A satyagraha, hardly stoic though, is what best sums up the special Kumble performance on day 1 at the fantastic MCG. He bowled like a man possessed. More importantly, he captained like a man possessed. If captaincy does this to an already champion competitor, one wonder’s why were we even debating the captaincy question a month earlier?

Pre boxing day 2007, as Gideon Haigh suggests, Anil Kumble was already the most respected among the Indian players along with Sachin Tendulkar in Australia.

After his Boxing Day heroics, Kumble is perhaps the most feared as well. Finally, one has proved that one can be better prepared than the feared Aussies like Ponting or Hussey, one who has a counter-punch for every bit of Aussie aggression. A true modern cricketing Gandhi pitted against cricket’s new colonizers.

Critics often say that a champion sportsman plays the game in the mind. When Kumble had stepped up to bowl with a broken jaw in the West Indies in 2001, he had added another dimension to this description: Sport in also played by the heart. Boxing day Melbourne added a further twist to this tale. It is also played with the head. “We have been around long enough to realize that even if the opposition is 100 for no loss at lunch you can pick up all ten wickets cheaply.” This rather simple statement sums it up. Even when the Indians were bruised at lunch and the score read 111-0, the skipper never lacked self-belief. He knew that coming hard and intense at the Aussies was the answer. And, like Gandhi years before against the mighty English, he was right. A patriot of stunning proportions, he led the Indian cricket renaissance in the 1990s along with Sachin Tendulkar and later Rahul Dravid and Saurav Ganguly. He is perhaps now unknowingly leading a global cricket revival against contemporary cricket’s biggest bully boys.

Post Boxing Day 2007, when a decent night’s sleep has allowed me to put my favorite performers heroics in some perspective, how am I to sum up Anil Kumble’s contribution to Indian Cricket? The answer is simple: He has won India more Test matches than any other player. The first Indian to have picked up 500 wickets and soon to be 600, Kumble is an icon is every sense of the term. His way of dealing with glamour, his measured aggression on the field, his calm and composed manner of it, his ability to stand up for the nation when it really matters makes him truly special-a favorite who continues to inspire and also to amaze.

Deconstructing his awe inspiring 5 wicket haul helps reveal the real Kumble.

Context-India down and almost out at lunch with the score reading 111-0 and Hayden and Jacques plundering away. The setting- one of the most intense boxing day tests of recent time. Add to this the pressure of leading the side down under, a side that has never won a Test series in Australia.

A performer who can stand up and deliver in a situation like this can’t be a mere mortal. It is not without reason that David Studham, the much respected MCC librarian here at the MCG, is already planning to frame photos of each of his five wickets for the photo gallery of the Melbourne Cricket Club.

With Kumble, one can go on and on. But perhaps it is best to leave the last words to Sachin Tendulkar: He is “Extremely Extremely, Extremely, Tough.”

 
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