Anil Kumble Inspires The Next Generation

Anil Kumble with the KZN Academy spinners and their coach Horatius Sokhnyile

Irrespective of his outstanding statistics, Anil Kumble (95 Tests, 461 wickets, BB 10/74; 264 ODIs, 329 wickets, BB 6/12)* has left his mark on the game as a cricketer of great skill, character and commitment.

In a break from practice during the Standard Chartered Afro-Asia Cup, Anil Kumble spoke to teenage spinners at the KwaZulu Natal Academy in Kingsmead, Durban. He passed on some invaluable tips.

He is rated very highly for his dedication to the team’s cause with bat as well as ball and particularly for his ability to out-think an opposing batsman. The young spinners in Durban spent close to an hour with the master, listening in rapt attention throughout before asking him searching questions. Extracts from the conversation:

“No matter how terrible you’re feeling, you put the ball in your hand and everything goes away.”

“Know your limitations but also know your strengths. Concentrate on the areas where you can get the most wickets. No matter what the state of the wicket is, play to your strengths.”

“You can’t take wickets without the ball in your hand. You have to make the captain think you’re making things happen.”

“Keep up with your studies. Exams when they happen take priority. Forget totally about cricket for two months if necessary. Stay at home and study. You might get fat for a while but it’s a small price to pay. The break will actually help you.”

“Always bowl each delivery, each over, with a plan.”

All of these KwaZulu Natal spinners: Knowledge Vilakazi, Keshav Maharaj, Mridhur Maharaj, Mohammad Riaz, Jonathan Vandiar, Jason Biddulph, Abdur Razak – have the potential to play at the highest level. What Anil Kumble shared with them, will ensure that their route to the top will be that much easier.

Filed September 06 2005

*Anil Kumble finished his international career after 132 Tests, 619 wickets, BB 10/74; 271 ODIs, 337 wickets, BB 6/12). He captained India 14 times in Test matches with three wins, five losses and six draws. His top score was an unbeaten 110 against England at The Oval in 2007 to secure a series victory. His 45 in the first innings at the Feroz Shah Kotla stadium took his career Test tally to 2506 runs at an average of 17.77.

Of the boys he spoke to in 2005, Jonathan Vandiar has gone on to play first-class cricket and Keshav Maharaj is close to doing so.

Updated November 02 2008