K.C. Vijaya Kumar
BANGALORE: Happiness reigned over the Chinnaswamy Stadium here with Anil Kumble becoming the first Indian to claim 500 Test wickets after scalping Steve Harmison in Mohali.
Kumble's latest effort comes as no surprise to those who know him from close quarters.
State physio Ramakant, who is aware of the long hard climb put in by Kumble after a shoulder surgery, lauded the leggie's attitude. "He never ever misses his fitness sessions. That reflects his focus on the game. I wish him the very best in the coming years," Ramakant says.
Another friend, Venkatesh Prasad, mentioned "commitment" as the key to Kumble's progress to greatness. "He is always committed to perform for the team, and it is a fantastic achievement. He always gives his best whatever the challenge. Hope, he keeps going on and if he makes a choice to forego one-dayers, probably he can extend his Test career, and he does have good number of years ahead of him," Prasad says.
The Kumble story is not about just spin and other turns, it is also about his attitude towards his craft. A few weeks ago, some Karnataka Ranji players were swapping notes on Kumble at the KSCA Clubhouse. All-rounder B. Akhil says, "One day Kumble drove down without realising that his kit was not in the car. Probably, some of us might have skipped rigorous practice that day. We might have gone for a jog and then got back home, but Kumble borrowed shoes, a bat and everything he needed and kept plugging away at the nets. That's his spirit and that's why he has gone far ahead."
Kumble's focus and his latest achievement also came in for praise from the past masters. Spin legend E.A.S. Prasanna mentioned that the road ahead for Kumble is all about "wickets, wickets and more wickets."
"It is a proud moment for us as both Indians as well as Kannadigas. He has been our strike bowler, he has shouldered our attack and he has also been our cementing force. He has performed all these roles with great skill and sincerity," Prasanna says.
Syed Kirmani and Brijesh Patel feet that Kumble does have a role in one-dayers. "You need wickets in one-dayers and who is better than Kumble? His 500th Test wicket comes as no surprise given his focus and his combative instinct," Brijesh Patel says, while Kirmani chips in, "I don't know why Kumble is not considered for one-dayers. But as for the road ahead, I think he is bowling very well, and as long as he maintains his fitness, nothing can stop him."
For a man whose ancestral lineage can be traced to a sleepy town, Kumbla, in Kasargod district of Kerala, Kumble has indeed traversed the path to glory with equanimity and poise.