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Last Updated: Saturday, 11 March 2006, 09:29 GMT
Bashful hero Kumble
By Oliver Brett

Anil Kumble has earned his rightful place among cricket's all-time elite after becoming the first Indian to take 500 wickets in Tests.

Kumble celebrates wicket number 500
Kumble dismissed England's Steve Harmison for number 500

Only four other bowlers across all countries have got there - Shane Warne, Muttiah Muralitharan, Glenn McGrath and Courtney Walsh.

But the 35-year-old leg-spinner from Bangalore is no natural superstar.

In a country where fans are normally so quick to heap lavish praise on cricketers, Kumble - despite the fact he has won so many matches for India - is a curiosity.

Compare him with Mahendra Dhoni, for instance, the wicket-keeper with a touch of the Bollywood film star about him.

He came into the national side barely a year ago, but with his luscious dyed locks and almost flagrant disregard of opposition bowlers he has proved an instant magnet for the groupies.

Yuvraj Singh, another dashing batsman, is also a favourite of the younger fans - particularly the female ones.

Respected Indian cricket writer Pradeep Magazine explains: "Kumble likes to keep a low profile, whereas other cricketers have a personality that is very different, like Yuvraj."

"He has quite a studious face that perhaps doesn't quite suit the marketing men, but he definitely deserves far more credit than he gets."

ANIL KUMBLE FACTFILE
Born: 12.10.70, Bangalore
Test debut: v England, Old Trafford, Aug 1990
Best performance: Became first man since Jim Laker to take 10 wickets in an innings as India beat Pakistan in Delhi, Feb 1999
Injuries: Out of Tests for 18 months from March 2000 with shoulder problem
Had jaw broken by a bouncer in Antigua in 2002 but carried on bowling in the same match

With so much play in the Mohali Test lost to rain, one of the most popular threads on the BBC Test Match Special message board on the second day was on Kumble.

Specifically, it asked how a bowler who does not impart much spin gets so many good batsmen out in Test matches.

Rob.cricketpunk said: "We've been spoilt by the exaggerated turn extracted by the likes of Warne and Murali and perhaps have forgotten that many past leg-spinners relied as much on bounce and change of pace as on fizzing spin.

"Kumble is that sort of bowler who makes the occasional big turner all the more confounding."

Kumble's classic modus operandi is to lure the batsman into complacency before striking with a ball that is subtly different from the others.

MOST TEST WKTS FOR INDIA
Anil Kumble: 501 from 105 matches
Kapil Dev: 434 from 131
Bishan Bedi: 266 from 67
Bhagwat Chandrasekhar: 242 from 58
Javagal Srinath: 236 from 67
Harbhajan Singh: 221 from 53

"He's more like the Glenn McGrath of slow bowlers," said RonniesGhost on the same messageboard thread.

"Relentlessly accurate, tall so gets bounce, very good at disguising changes of pace [he is] a class act, and has the battling character to go with it."

"The ball that does a little is often more dangerous than the ball that does a lot. I think 500 wickets will be a good testament to that old adage."

Kumble's action is also quite unique, exemplified by the top-spinner that trapped Steve Harmison lbw for wicket number 500.

"I have not seen many youngsters trying to emulate him," says Pradeep Magazine.

"Those fastish leg-breaks don't turn much but as he himself always says says: 'What does that matter? It's the wickets that matter.

"The current captain Rahul Dravid regards him as the greatest Indian cricketer of the last 15 years so he has an even higher regard of him than Sachin Tendulkar."


SEE ALSO
England boosted by century stand
11 Mar 06 |  England
Kumble revels in second coming
01 Apr 04 |  International Teams
Kumble's year of plenty
06 Jan 05 |  India


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