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Published on: 02/13/13 11:59 AM

Feature: Anil Kumble, The Comeback Kid

Kumble, the Comeback Kid

Flashback, fall 2000. Anil Radhakrishna Kumble, test spinner, record-breaker (who can forget that perfect 10?), pin-up for women who wouldn`t know a googly from a leg-break, Mr Really Nice Guy, had it all.

And then, while playing in Sharjah in October 2000, an Act of God happened. Kumble hurt his shoulder. and hurt it badly.  The injury and subsequent surgery at Jo’burg has kept Anil Kumble off the field for all of ten months now.

however, enforced sabbaticals are something Kumble has had to take in his stride, once in 1992, then in 1997 when he was ‘rested’, and again in 1999. The man is stoic, clearly believing in the dictum that it’s all cricket.  And that, this too, will pass.

Now, he tells you his shoulder has healed well. He is characteristically reticent about whether he thinks he will make the team and wreak a trail of destruction in the South African batting line-up, when India plays the Boers in October.

Only the second bowler in the history of test cricket, apart from England’s Jim Laker, to take ten wickets in an innings, that magical Sunday remains fresh in Kumble’s and the country’s collective memory.

However, Kumble is nothing if not pragmatic; he knows that this game often puts you on a sticky wicket.. one day up, the next day down. So, the man who once said ‘cricket is a great leveller’, is not going to rest on those laurels for too long.

Is there life beyond cricket? There is.

Kumble is a fervent believer in numerology, his vehicles carry the numbers 7090, the first two being his year of birth, the second set being the year of his debut on the national scene. He is computer and camera savvy, and a keen amateur photographer. and, of course, we all know that he gives liberally to charity, especially when it comes to working with disabled children.

“I wish I had more time to give.” He has started a sports promotion company, is involved with a firm manufacturing cricket software and when you realise how it all is connected with the game, well, you don’t ask about life beyond cricket any more. Oh yes, he also took in a film after ages recently, Dil Chahta Hai and found it “breezy.”

It’s an irony, of course, that someone gifted with his undeniable good looks is anything but a ladies’ man. In fact, he almost squirms when you mention his female fan following. “People tend to idolise cricketers.”

Some time ago, gossip linked his name to that of lissom actress/dancer Shobhana. The man dismissed it as a “gimmick”.

Kumble, according to lore, may have taken flowers regularly for his teacher in primary school but is now a happily married man, been married to wife Chetna for over a year.

What of rumours that director Rajiv Menon wants to make a movie with the photogenic cricketer? “wWe have talked,” says Kumble, in a level tone. “There are no concrete plans as yet and in any case, I don’t think i have the time for a film right now.”

Right now, Anil Kumble has his eyes set determinedly on the comeback trail. Because there’s one unfulfilled ambition to achieve, something his mother desires as much as he does. He has to take a hat-trick in a test. This is something that has eluded the man who has taken 276 wickets in 61 tests.

But you know and he knows that tomorrow is another day. A day filled  with possibilities.

This appeared in THE TIMES OF INDIA of 16 Sept 2001.


Anil KumbleFeatureFeaturesiconic cricketer

Sheila Kumar • February 13, 2013

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