Ace cricketer Anil Kumble brings the same poise and polish to his job as a lensman as he does on the pitch
He admits he is not technically best equipped to understand the nuances of photography; yet, he has some stunning offerings, as breathtaking as his dismissals of the opposition on the cricket field. Anil Kumble, a gentleman on and off the field, brings you a coffee table book titled “Wide Angle – Candid Moments From My Playing Days.”
The book, shot on Canon equipment, is a delight. Imagine Kumble, intense, in a combative mood, plotting the downfall of his victim with a top spinner, a flipper, a googly, or just plain, quick and straight delivery. The same man, holding his breath, waiting patiently to “capture” a leopard sliding down a tree. It is one of his best snaps in the book apart from his personal favourite – Sachin Tendulkar's 35th Test century. “I had Sachin with his bat raised and the scoreboard in the background.”
Kumble's love for photography is as old as his love for cricket. “I always carried a camera. Pictures tell a lot and I thought these would give some insight into a cricketer's life.” They do, as he brings forth a rich collection from the time he went to attend his first coaching camp in Srinagar as a 17-year-old. He used the two-day off to take a bus, alone, to visit Gulmarg and Pehalgam and took some “nice” pictures, including one astride a mule. Ironically, the owner snapped his mule in full and Kumble in half, the top part missing! You can see this picture in the book which is available on www.wideangle.canvera.com.
Kumble's passion for cricket and wildlife has been documented in various chapters. It was an experiment that came from trial and error. “I used to interact with the photographers. I was so fascinated by their art. The idea was to pursue my hobby through basic knowledge of the art. I am happy I could give it the shape of a book,” said Kumble, who has taken some funny pictures of his colleagues in the dressing room.
His cricketing journey was steady. He learnt his lessons and never forgot them in times of distress. The same went for photography. The upgrading of the equipment was in phases. “I started with a Hot Shot aim-and-shoot camera. Next came a digital SLR. Gradually I added lenses, small and big, as I got more time to travel and shoot. The lenses became bigger as I ventured into a forest.” He was ‘shooting' tigers, not batsmen anymore!
“I never kept count of the pictures I shot,” Kumble confesses. The digital pictures were stored in a hard drive and the printed ones packed into a cricket coffin for his brother, Dinesh, to do justice. Dinesh designed and conceptualised the book. Among his earliest brilliant pictures was capturing an albatross in New Zealand as the bird took flight. Sadly, it does not find a place in this book. “It will figure in my book on wildlife.”
The wildlife section highlights Kumble's eye for details and his knowledge of the subject too. “You have to understand the animal's behaviour and give him the space.” There are many that he missed too. “Due to poor light or maybe the animal was not in a mood. Photography taught me to be patient.” And that is why he got this beautiful picture of the leopard sliding down the tree. “I waited a while for it to happen.”
Among the treasured pictures in the book is not by Kumble. “It is my favourite. I set it up.” The picture has Kumble, Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid, V.V.S. Laxman and Sourav Ganguly standing on the turf at Lord's. “In the background is the Indian National Flag. It is very symbolic and very special because our cricket journey was aimed at bringing glory to the country by keeping the flag flying high.” Kumble indeed brought dignity to the game to earn an iconic stature in world cricket.