Anil Kumble retires as India’s top Test wicket taker

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Anil Kumble in his hairy-lipped heyday when his name rhymed with 'humble'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?

A post about when Anil Kumble hit his Test hundred that also mentions the ten wickets in an innings thing that we didn’t manage to squeeze into this update.


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  1. Facial hair? In non English bowlers – probably. But I’m glad to see its a thing of the past.

  2. It’s a proper moustache, too. Not like that abomination Mike Hussey was sporting this time last year that looked like he’d smeared a streak of mud on his top lip.

  3. Dave, Hussey was doing it for charity…

    It was all in aid of Movember, if you see Cricket With Balls, you’ll see what it’s all about.

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