Indian spin legend Anil Kumble has said that he was fortunate to have former Indian batsmen Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid, VVS Laxman, Sourav Ganguly and Virender Sehwag at the nets. He believed bowling to them was instrumental in him becoming one of the best craftsmen of spin bowling.
“There were a lots of them. But fortunately, most of the best batsmen of the time were part of my team. It was good that I had Tendulkar, Dravid, Ganguly Laxman, Sehwag… all these guys in the nets, rather than thinking the previous evening that ‘oh, I have to bowl to these guys in a match’,” Kumble said during an interaction with former Zimbabwe pacer Pommy Mbanwga on Instagram live.
However, on being asked who was the toughest batsman he had bowled, Kumble singled out Brian Lara. The third-highest Test wicket-taker said that such was the brilliance of the former West Indies captain that he could play four different shots to a delivery.
“So, that was very special. But then, there were many batsmen who have been very difficult to bowl at. Brian Lara was probably at the top,” Kumble said.
“He had four different shots to every delivery that you bowled and that was the biggest challenge, you thought you could beat him, you would get him but then he would change his shot and sort of tap you through third man,” he added.
In the same conversation, Kumble also revealed that he never understood why he was compared with Australian legend Shane Warne and highest international wicket-taker Muttiah Muralitharan during their playing days.
“It feels really wonderful to finish with these many wickets. I never bothered about statistics or what my average should be, I wanted to bowl the whole day and be the one to take wickets. To finish as the third-highest wicket-taker in Tests alongside Murali and Warne is very special. All three of us played in the same era, there were a lot of comparisons, I do not know why people compared me with Warne. Warne was someone really different and he was on a different plane.
“These two guys could spin the ball on any surface so it became really difficult for me when they started comparing me with Warne and Murali. I learnt a lot by watching them both bowl,” the former Indian Test captain said.
Kumble is India’s highest-ever wicket-taker in both Test and One Day International (ODI) cricket. The leg-spinner, who retired from international cricket in 2008, has 619 Test and 337 ODI wickets under his name.
In terms of Test wicket, he is just behind Warne (708) and Muralitharan (800) in the international list of highest wicket-taker.