Kumble - The Batsman
We have all heard the clichés associated with Anil Kumble – “not a big turner of the ball”… “tall, lanky”… “relies on uneven bounce”… “honest performer”… “thinking bowler” – but all of these generalizations are mainly related to his bowling.
What about his batting? India’s biggest match-winning bowler over the last 3 seasons has been consistently averaging over 20 with the bat. In the last 10 tests that average goes up to a very healthy 25.72. To put things in perspective, Sachin Tendulkar averages 28 in his last 10 matches. More than runs, it is the partnerships that have been forged that have been key in getting India out of possibly messy situations.
In the Nagpur test against England, Kumble in partnership with Kaif made an invaluable 58 and rescued India from a disastrous 190/7 to a respectable 318. In Mohali and Mumbai, Kumble again chipped in with crucial 32 and 30 and Andrew Flintoff later admitted that he had been an irritating batsman to get rid of throughout the series. Kumble’s last innings in the recently concluded St. Kitts test was another vital knock of 43 where he at times over-shadowed VVS Laxman, smashing Pedro Collins for three 4’s in an over. Laxman rightly acknowledged Kumble’s confident stroke-play, “The thing with Anil is that he is a very gutsy player, with both bat and ball. Since the last one-and-a-half years he has been very aggressive with his batting. There is drastic improvement or change in his batting in the last one-and-a-half years. In such situations, Anil becomes a little positive as he wants to take the challenge to the bowlers. It's good to see him get runs and in this fashion."
When Kumble started out he was known to be a good judge of leaving the ball outside off stump and scored his runs mainly through dabs and edges going past gully. In recent times, he has added the cover drive using the front leg to come a long way forward and following through with the blade, sometimes even going over the top and the late cut where he waits for the ball to come and just chops it through backward point. You know Kumble is in good knick when he is not averse to hooking the short ball no matter how ungainly he looks.
So don’t be surprised if soon Anil Kumble gets another cliché attached to his name and maybe this time it will be associated to Kumble – the batsman.