It’s the beginning of the end. Fab Four was what the famed Indian batting line up was called, but toiling away at the other end, picking up wickets by the bagful and yet unassuming, away from the spotlight, was the Fifth Fab of the past decade and half. Indeed, it should have been Fab Five all along.
Some things are only appreciated when they are no more. While we appreciate our batsmen fully, rejoicing in their grandeose and asking for more when they fail, somehow Kumble always managed to stay away from the spotlight. Was it because he was always right up there, giving it his best all the time? Perhaps we never realized what he was worth, simply because he never gave us the opportunity to miss his talent: he was always there, every ball, every over, every match – even with broken jaw on one occasion.
He’s ended with more than 600 Test wickets, more than anyone could have imagined anyone could get, let alone this so-called-legspinner who couldn’t really turn the ball. He’s proved them wrong, and gone the distance, and beyond.
I wrote a few days back that no one looked the part of being in Sourav Ganguly’s captaincy shoes until the arrival of MS Dhoni. With Anil Kumble, there was one occasion, one exception, where he more than looked the part. In Australia earlier this year, India’s tour was filled with controversy and bitterness, allegations of unfair play and name calling. Among the ruins stood tall the Captain – dignified yet bristling, calm yet fiery (one example of that). Yes, that day, he was indeed the Captain of India – in spirit, more than for anything he did on the field. That day, I think, he was the best captain India has ever had.
It’s all over, now. The reins must be passed on – of the Captain, of the lead spinner. The countdown begins: Fab Five is now down to Four.
Adios, Anil Kumble: you mark the beginning of the end of an era in Indian Cricket.