“It was one of the bravest things I’ve seen on a cricket field,” said Sir Vivian Richards after watching Anil Kumble bowl with a broken jaw in the Antigua Test in 2002. This statement coming from Vivian Richards, who himself had set a brave example on the cricket field, coming out to bat without wearing the helmet, spoke a lot about Kumble’s lionhearted effort.
The former Indian spinner had always been a fighter for India. A trier in the most difficult times. In most difficult conditions.
Batting at number seven, he was hit by a Merv Dillon delivery on the jaw. Blood came out instantly. Kumble, however, batted for another 20 minutes despite the pain.
When he was sent back by Dillon to the dressing room, not many had thought that Kumble would be able to take field and continue playing in the rest of the match. A bandaged Kumble, coming out of the Indian dressing room changed all such perceptions.
He, not only came back after getting the bandage done around his head, he bowled 14 overs. He, not only just bowled but picked a wicket too. He did not pick an ordinary wicket, he picked Brian Lara’s.
The Test series was poised at 1-1 and this Test was eventually drawn. The next day after the Test, Anil Kumble took flight for India to undergo the surgery.
Before flying back to India, Kumble was recorded as saying, “At least I can now go home with the thought that I tried my best.”
India did not lose the match but they had realised that this team was not complete without Anil Kumble. No wonder he is back in the scheme of things again and rightly so.