Rewind to the boxing day test in Melbourne. The Australian batsmen were dominating the bowling and the opening partnership had put in a 135 run stand and the momentum of the game had already started to swing towards Australia. Enter Anil Kumble, a man who has won more matches for India than any other bowler. He set about slowly picking up one wicket after the other and correcting the situation and after a five-for haul, the Aussies had squandered their advantage and were 9 wickets down at stumps. It is another thing that India eventually ended up losing the match. But Anil Kumble has been the go-to bowler for India for a number of years and he has for the most part delivered.
That has been until now…
The test figures of no wickets for 160 runs in this test has been his worst ever. He has never ever bowled in both innings of a match and gone wicket-less for the test. Never. Agreed, there were dropped chances and wrong decisions – and he wasn’t fully fit (which is no excuse, really!), but it doesn’t take anything away from the fact that he went wicket less in this game.
His bowling average has been 60 and 50 in the last 2 series (against South Africa and Sri Lanka) and what is even more worrying is the fact that they were played in relatively spin-friendly pitches of India and Sri Lanka. And now this – 0/160.
The debates on when and how the seniors in the team should retire has been going on for sometime now and whether some of the them should be dropped, but the focus has been more on the fab four.
I have been a huge fan of Kumble and he is probably one of the more likeable characters in this Indian team. But, age, fitness and weariness has finally caught up with him and if you were to pick four bowlers for the next game in Mohali, you wouldn’t necessarily pick him. But, what makes dropping Kumble difficult is the fact that he is also the captain of the team!
There were some rumors doing the rounds that with the shoulder injury in this game, Kumble may actually announce his retirement. But he quelled the rumor in the post-match interview by saying that he was hoping that his shoulder would be 100% before the Mohali test.
I thought that announcing his retirement at his home ground would have been a fine way for this cricketer to end his career. It could have also been the best thing for team India.