My wife thought I was probably joking: Kumble on bowling with broken jaw

PTI, Jul 12, 2023, 1:36 PM IST

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Chethana, Anil Kumble’s wife, thought he was ”probably joking” when the Indian spin great, with a bandaged face and a broken jaw, decided to challenge the likes of Brian Lara during the Antigua Test in 2002.

Kumble rates Lara as one of the toughest batters he had bowled to, as the Prince of Trinidad has three shots for one delivery.

But Lara’s feared reputation was not good enough to stop Kumble from producing one of the bravest acts in cricket, as he sent down 14 consecutive overs and dismissed the batting legend with a wired jaw.

”I told my wife, Chetna and I called her up. When we spoke, I said, look I know I have to come home because I just need surgery. So, she arranged for all of that in Bangalore.

”…And as I dropped off the call, I just told her that look I’ll go and bowl, but she thought probably I was just joking,” Kumble reminisced during an interview with JioCinema. ”I don’t think she even took it seriously. What’s he saying?” The former India captain said even after breaking his jaw he felt it was his responsibility to get some wickets for the team. ”So, when I went back to the dressing room, I saw Sachin bowling because he was the only guy in the team who could bowl and then Wavell Hinds, I think was playing I don’t remember somebody else was batting,” Kumble said.

”And I thought it was my chance. I have to go and get a couple of wickets. If we can get West Indies three or four down, end of day two or three. I think if you can get them out, then maybe, we have a chance to win the game. That was the only thought. ”So, I told Andrew Leipus – get me out there.” Kumble was due to fly back to Bangalore the following day for surgery, and he said at that time, ”At least I can now go home with the thought that I tried my best.”

Batting at No. 7, Kumble was hit by a Mervyn Dillon short ball. He spat out blood but batted on for another 20 minutes in the fourth Test of that series more than two decades ago. Asked about the toughest batters he had bowled to during his illustrious career, he picked Lara, Saeed Anwar, Jacques Kallis, and Aravinda de Silva among others.

”Well, I think it was good that most of them were a part of my team. Imagine bowling at Sachin, Rahul, Saurav, Viru, Laxman, all these guys in a match. It would have been a nightmare. Jokes apart had some wonderful batters whom I bowled against,” he said.

”Aravinda de Silva was a tough one and Brian Lara – he probably had three shots to every ball and he would change. You would think that you’ve got him.” On Lara, the only man to score 400 in Test cricket, he continued, ”You’d feel that you’ve deceived it and then suddenly you play a shot, which you can’t imagine and when you know that he’s come forward, you have beaten him, and then he would just use the pace and then late cut for four and that was his quality.”

Kumble added, ”I think in every series, you sort of encounter a couple of tough guys who sort of are difficult. Jacques Kallis was someone who never, ever gave away his wicket. Inzi (Inzamam-Ul-Haq) was really tough. ”Then I mean some of the left-handers were really – Hayden was someone who was imposing. We knew that getting him out LBW was out of the equation.” One of only three cricketers to have taken all 10 wickets in a Test match innings, Kumble said the thought that he could account for all the Pakistani batters during the 1999 game in Delhi crossed his mind after he picked up his sixth wicket. ”… I think at the end of six, it was tea break. Yeah. So, I got a bit of a break and then seven happened. Saleem Malik got out of and then eight and nine happened in two deliveries off the fifth and the sixth ball so I knew that, okay, here’s my chance.”

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