Monday, November 03, 2008

It’s Time to Say Goodbye…

The eyes are still moist and the mind does not want to accept. The images on the news yesterday will not go away for a long time. I’ve not seen my husband so upset. I’m even more surprised at myself, practical and objective always, I had a tear in my eye when I saw him take the field for one last time since 18 years.

The warrior, the fighter, the pacifier, the real gentleman of this game, Anil Kumble will be sorely missed by one and all; the cricketer, the bowler, the captain, the team-mate and more than anything the wonderful human being.

Calm, peaceful, determined, gritty, he has all the qualities that make us believe that cricket is indeed a gentleman’s game and Anil Kumble is fine representative of that breed which is slowly diminishing away.

But of all the qualities listed above, the one that you identify him with most is that of a true fighter and a committed player. Remember 2002- WI when he took Lara’s wicket with a broken jaw. The image is still fresh in the mind and it only talks of undying love and commitment to the game, to the country and more importantly to oneself. Anil Kumble personified each letter of the word commitment that day.

A rare super role model for generations to come, simply for the way he carried himself in the cricketing world for 18 years.

I still remember the ’93 series against England at home which lifted India from a series of defeats and put Kumble in the forefront of India’s bowling attack. There is no difference between that Kumble and the Kumble today. His thirst for taking wickets has not lessened a bit, he continues to accept challenges, he continues to toil endlessly without showing an ounce of tiredness, he continues to bowl and bowl, and everytime he takes a wicket, he knows he wants more.

Today his body has given away but his heart and mind have not.

He has made a good decision, he has called it quits at the right time and the injury to his hand has only hastened his decision which he might have held onto till the Nagpur match had he not been injured. I had a weird feeling since Ganguly announced his retirement at the start of the series that only more would follow.
The cricketing instinct in me scares me cause more often than not it turns out to be right. Hell, I’ve still not got any feelings about Sachin or Dravid yet and thank god for that!

There will be millions of articles up on the internet and newspapers about Jumbo’s retirement which will list his achievements. He remains India’s best bowler in the history of the game. 619 wickets and only the second bowler in the world to claim 10-wickets in an innings.
He has given us ample to cherish. However, my most cherished moments after the 10-wicket haul come from his batting heroics. His 88 in Kolkatta 1996 in his partnership with Azhar against South Africa and his 100 in 2007 at the Oval in England. He waited for a long time to add it to his kitty and what a well deserved one it was!

Anil Kumble’s absence will be more felt in the Indian dressing room, he was a mentor and friend to one and all. He stood calm and tall against all that was thrown at him and his team. His conduct in the controversial 2007 series down under proved this fact.

There is not a single fan of this game, of Indian cricket,who will disregard Jumbo’s valiant efforts in two decades, his courage, his grit and his dedication. Jumbo leaves behind a great legacy, one that will remain unparalleled for a long time to come. He leaves a path that will be tough to follow and emulate; but he has ensured that he will be there to guide those who try to tread the same. Ask Bhajji , Chawla and Mishra.

Jumbo we will miss you, and it will be tough watching the matches knowing that you will not be there to bowl the straight one, the flipper, and to shut the critics up who said you could not spin!

You leave this game in honor of being India’s best spinner and bowler till date; that has been the best answer to all the critics in the world.

Jumbo we all take a bow!
P.s: Some of the best tributes I came across: Harsha Bhogle, Suresh Menon, Great Bong , Ramesh

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