The first thing that comes to my mind when we talk about Anil Kumble is the apparition of him haunting the Caribbean line-up at Antigua being swathed in a bandage. I haven’t seen many more inspiring spectacles than that where despite being asked to cancel all involvements in the game, Kumble placed his nation’s needs ahead of himself and walked in there to help India fight the likes of a mighty West Indies.
This game was also famous for another reason that saw India using all their players including Ajay Ratra to bowl out West Indies. The Islanders simply refused to get dismissed, thanks to some resolute batting from Carl Hooper, Shivnarine Chanderpaul and Ridley Jacobs as all three of them went smash blistering tons. In fact, Wasim Jaffer registered the best bowling figures in the Indian hut.
With all said and done, his fans have a common question that why did Anil Kumble get the nickname of Jumbo? It is a sweet name with a pint of spice added to the same as he would go on a relentless rampage in the conquest of the entire world.
When he got appointed as the Indian coach, Kumble revealed that it was Navjot Singh Sidhu who gave him the sobriquet of Jumbo. As he relayed the incident, he quoted, “It was during the Irani Trophy game when I was playing for Rest of India at Kotla [Feroz Shah Kotla]. He was standing at his customary position, mid-on. One of the balls really took off and he said ‘Jumbo Jet.’ While the ‘Jet’ got dropped off, just the ‘Jumbo’ remained. So ever since all my teammates call me Jumbo.”
In fact, in the same question and answer session, Kumble also lamented the fact of not bunking classes despite being a sports student. He cited, “I probably was a bad example of a sports student. I never bunked classes whenever there were no matches. I was not the greatest guy amongst my sportsmen friends because they hated me. Yes, I hardly had time to go to college because there was a lot of cricket to be played those days.”
We are also aware of the fact that he has a massive inclination towards photography and when asked that whether we will be seeing Kumble as a photographer in the dressing room, he replied, “Yes I’ll surely be carrying my camera to the West Indies. People will get to see some images of the team probably on a beach or the games as well. The winning shots will actually be great.”
The man who redefined the face of Indian cricket in the longest format of the game, romanticizing the art of leg-spin in Test penned records that still seems to be unbeatable. He is the highest Indian wicket-taker in the longest format of the game that has seen him rack up 619 wickets and is also the highest wicket-taker in the colours of India in all forms combined as his figures read 956 scalps. It is still hard to say that when exactly will India have another leg-spinner as great as him but the art that was rendered as one of the most effective weapons in the bowling echelons is once again on the decline.