Anil Kumble Birthday Special: From an Engineering Graduate to Taking 619 Test Wickets, Here’re Lesser-Known Things about ‘Jumbo’ of Indian Cricket
Anil Kumble (Photo Credits: Getty Images)

Anil Kumble celebrates his 49th birthday. Considered to be one of the greatest spinners of all-time and one of India’s biggest match-winners, Kumble was born to Krishna Swamy and Saroja in Bengaluru, Karnataka. He was nicknamed ‘Jumbo’ in the Indian cricket team’s dressing room and with 619 wickets to his name, Kumble remains the third-highest wicket-taker of all-time. Kumble, aka Jumbo, also remains one of the only four Indian cricketers to be inducted into ICC Hall of Fame. As the former Indian captain and head coach – a true Jumbo – of Indian cricket turns 49, take a look at some rare known things about him.

Kumble made his senior India debut in 1990 but couldn’t perform to expectations and was eventually dropped. It wasn’t before 1992 that Kumble really stormed his way into the Indian team after taking 13 wickets in an Irani Trophy clash against Delhi for Rest of India. He never had to look back after that and very soon a young Kumble, under the able leadership of Mohammed Azharuddin and then Sourav Ganguly, turned into one of India’s biggest match-winners both at home and away.

In between 1992 to 1996, Kumble broke several records. From becoming the fastest Indian to take 50 Test wickets – a record broken by Ravi Ashwin later – to 100 Test wickets in just 21 Test matches, Kumble held it all at the start of his peak. His 6/12 against West Indies at Kolkata was also an Indian ODI record before Stuart Binny broke it in 2014. On October 17, 2019 (Thursday), as Kumble turns 49, take a look at some rare unknown things about the Jumbo of Indian cricket.

  1. Anil Kumble was a bright student at school. He completed his schooling from the National High School in Bangalore and graduated in engineering from the Rashtreeya Vidyalaya College of Engineering. He is said to have graduated with flying marks and was as bright a student as he was a cricketer
  2. He started as a fast bowler and developed the flipper as his first trademark delivery before turning into a spinner. He finished his Test career with 30 five-wicket hauls.
  3. Kumble has bowled a record number of 40850 balls in his Test career, which is the highest for any Indian cricket and second highest in overall cricket records.
  4. The “Jumbo” nickname given to Kumble by his Indian teammates is reportedly based on two theories. One claim that he was given the name because of massive or large feet and another state that the name was given because of the variations and bounce he could derive from every pitch.
  5. Jumbo is the only the third international bowler to breach the double-zero landmark at least 6 times in his career. He, however, holds the rare record of reaching his 100th, 300th and 400th wicket at his home ground in Bangalore.
  6. Anil Kumble was the first spinner to take 200 wickets in One-Day Internationals. He achieved the feat on September 26, 1998. He was also then only the seventh bowler and second Indian to reach the landmark.
  7. Kumble became only the second Indian cricketer after England’s Jim Laker to take all 10 wickets in an innings. He achieved the feat against Pakistan at the Feroz Shah Kotla stadium in Delhi on February 7, 1999. Not only was the feat special but also led India to their first Test victory over Pakistan in 19 years.
  8. The former Indian captain dismissed the great Steve Waugh in his final Test innings at the Sydney Cricket Ground. India drew that series 1-1 making it India’s best-ever campaign Down Under until Virat Kohli’s men won the Test series in Australia in 2018.
  9. Anil Kumble has 35 caught and bowled dismissals, making it the most number of wickets a bowler has attained by the combination of the two. Kumble overtook Muttiah Muralitharan to achieve the feat.
  10. Kumble waited of 17 years of international cricket and 118 Test matches to score his maiden international hundred – the longest any cricketer has waited for a debut century.

He was already a colossus in the Indian bowling tank and proved to be the team’s biggest match-winner always delivering in tough situations even if it meant playing with straps and bandages going around his broken jaw to hold it from falling off (remember West Indies 2002). But it was only when captaincy came calling, that the real leader in Kumble burst out.

After Rahul Dravid’s resignation in 2007 and Sachin Tendulkar’s refusal to take up the captaincy, Kumble – fresh off from his debut century – was unwillingly appointed the captain. He led India against Pakistan and later toured Australia, which in time will not just change the landscape of cricket forever but also bring out the protector of Indian cricket in Kumble.

With the Test series plagued by serious umpiring blunders, allegations of racial ‘monkey’ chants, cheating and of course sledging, Kumble showed the true essence of a leader. He stood by the team in every matter and after a second successive at Sydney, Kumble delivered what turned out to be an iconic line that best defined the series: ‘Only one team was playing with the spirit of the game’.

India lost the series 1-2, but Kumble the leader has escalated new heights. He also achieved his 600th Test wicket in the same series. Later that year, Kumble bid adieu to a glittering 18-year-old career at his favourite ground – Feroz Shah Kotla – and on his own terms. Happy Birthday, Anil “Jumbo” Kumble.