Monday, January 21, 2008

What manner of man is this Anil Kumble?

JRod at Cricket with Balls rolled out the dictionary in a lovely little tribute to the Indian captain, Anil Kumble:

“Kumble turns batting into an introspection of life itself. The batsman has many questions to face during his spell. … A normal bowler tries to beat the batsmen, Kumble makes you define the very idiom of bastmanship.”
An unexpectedly philosophical turn from a normally raucous blog added a poignancy to the homage.

Kumble is a great bowler. His figures are out-standing, his leadership inspiring and even a test centurion. But watching him bowl jar with this image; he’s not a million miles away from Shahid Afridi.

But the beauty of Kumble, much like Shane Warne, is that he is made for international cricket; he’s a bowler custom-built to get the wickets of the very best batsman.

As JRod points out, this is partly due to his solid mental approach of stripping the game to the basics of consistent line and length with some variation.

But, there are some aspects of his bowling which make him disruptively difficult to face. His fast, fizzing leg-breaks bounce and spit at batsmen. Unlike Afridi, whose deliveries kiss the surface as he pushes through the ball, in a rather complicated, rushed action, Kumble’s overs are full of dangerously rising balls which are naturally produced from his springy, elegant action.

Moreover, given his speed, it only takes a subtle variation to beat the batsman. The old adage is that you only need to move the ball half the bat’s width to take the edge. But this is an old wife’s tale, batsmen play for the movement and try to anticipate it. But the problem when facing Kumble is that you have no time to adjust your shot.

Remember when Ian Bell left a googly, all he could do was twitch as his saw the ball skid into his stumps. When you faced Warne’s googly, everyone saw it coming. But, even if you didn’t, you could adjust at the last moment. But when facing Kumble, batsmen are never completely sure where the ball is going to be.

It is in this marginal space that Kumble occupies: he’s not going to get you with a ripper, but he’s going to constantly probe at your bat’s edge. One ball after another is going to test the precision of your defence, and if you have slightly miscalculated the movement, then it’s game over.

This is why I love Kumble so much. His unswerving brilliance is to examine the techniques of the best batsmen makes for great cricket and enriches the game.

(By the way, the Dead Frog is still there. It has been there for weeks now. Through the rain, storms and hail. I think it is fossilising into the pavement. Unnervingly, though, it has rotated 90 degrees.)

2 comments:

Suave said...

Cracking post old bean...

Here's to spinners and their wiley ways...

Here's also hoping that I get moved up the order this summer, as I can't play spinners, and by the time I get in to bat at 6, they're always waiting.
My average would be like Ricky Ponting's if I didn't have to face those pesky non-spinning spinners.
Maybe I need to stop playing for turn, as there never seems to be.

Maybe I need to put my career in the coffin, rather than my bat and pads.

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