People still slag Anil Kumble off for bowling too fast and not turning the ball. It’s not really the point. 619 Test wickets say that he’s right and they’re wrong.
Kumble never spun the ball much – it’s not a recent thing – yet he’s been the best spin bowler in India for about 18 years. Being the best spinner in India isn’t like being the best spinner in England. There’s competition.
Maybe the problem is that people rate him as a leg-spinner, when really they should be rating him as a bowler. Kumble’s method has more in common with Glenn McGrath than Shane Warne. Make the batsman play. Move the ball a touch. Do it again. And again.
He was never a leg-spinner anyway. He was a googly bowler – particularly in his early days. They make that kind of distinction in India and it says a lot about the way the nation regards spin bowling. In England there are two kinds of spinners – off-spinners and leg-spinners. In India they recognise that there are many ways to bowl spin and any of them can be successful.
If every bowler bowled fast-medium, the game would be dull. If every spin bowler were the same, the game would be dull. How many tall, bouncy, medium-pace googly bowlers have there been? Anil Kumble was a pretty intriguing bowler. For most of his career, he had a quite marvellous moustache as well and isn’t that really what it’s all about? Facial hair?