He never turns the ball.

He is useless away from home.

How can he call himself spinner when even a ramrod will have more bends & turns?

Once batsmen realized he had to be a played like a pace bowler he was d-o-n-e.

These are some of the criticisms of Anil "Jumbo" Kumble, the highest wicket-taker for India in tests. The first spinner, from the Land of Spinners & Dust Bowls, to actually pass 300 wickets. For all his heroics in India, his inability to land the killer blow in tests away from the comfy climes of uneven bounces hurt him. There are many instances where Kumble, being the premier strike bowler of his team, failed from positions of strength.

The Wellington test of 98 immediately comes to mind. As usual, India put up a sub par total in the first innings of the first test but fought back through SRT's brilliant 113 and set the Kiwis a fighting target of 213. India had them reeling at 73/4 at the end of day 4. With Astle retired hurt, it was was effectively 73/5. It could not have been set up more comfortably for Jumbo after a night's rest. India just managed to take 2 wickets the next day, one of them was the nightwatchman and the other was when the target was 2 runs away.

Other examples include the Edgbaston test of 96, Wanderers test of 97, Sydney test of 2004, Newlands test of 2007 where India let slip multiple opportunities from positions of strength. A Shane Warne or Murali would have very likely won those tests had they been playing for India. Forget those away tests, in the Chennai test of 2004, Kumble (& Bhajji) let Damien Martyn add 101 runs with nightwatchman Dizzie. More than the runs, they ate up nearly 2 sessions of the day. Australia managed just 85 runs after Martyn was dismissed. A potential 100-120 run target was converted to 229 and the last day was washed out. India could have gone to Nagpur with all of the momentum, completely turning the tables after the disastrous loss in Bengaluru. Even in a test where Kumble took THIRTEEN wickets, we (by we I mean I) can find fault (with a teensy-weensy bit of justification) in his performance, a microcosm of the gentle Bengaluru magā's career.

Despite his pedestrian away record (37.73 in Australia, 41.41 in England, 42.41 in Pakistan, 44.63 in Sri Lanka), Kumble had a huge hand some of India's most famous away wins. He took 7 wickets in the Leeds test of 2002, a Michelle Fifer, albeit an expensive one, in the Adelaide test of 2003, 6 wickets in the Trent Bridge test of 2007, a six-fer in Sabina Park test of 2006, another six-fer in the flat wicket of Multan in 2004. Hell even in Sreesanth's match, it was Jumbo who quickly polished the tail off, an eternal Indian infirmity, and took a quarter of the 20 Proteas wickets to help India win her first ever test in Sathafrika. He might not have been the man of the match but his contributions weren't insignificant. He wasn't Sunny G in the 1983 World Cup (59 runs @ 9.83) so to speak.

A decade earlier and across the border, there existed a leg-spinner. A leg-spinner so idolized, deified and venerated by Pakistanis (and the English) that if you were cricket-illiterate, you would have thought Abdul Qadir invented leg-spin bowling. His record (236 wickets @ 32.8) is more than acceptable for a leg-spinner. A leggie, after all, goes for more runs than his offie-cousin because there is less control when you wrist-spin.

Scratch the surface and Qadir's record becomes as bad as Kumble's. He took 12 wickets at 61 in Australia in his only tour down under. In two tours to England managed to procure 21 costly wickets at 40.76. In New Zealand (in 2 tours 10 wickets) he averaged a whopping 52. In the only time he toured West Indies, Qadir did well to take 14 wickets but it (again) came at a not-so-cheap 38.42 runs per wicket. In the land of the eternal enemy, the so-called saviour of leg-spin averaged a staggering 69 runs for each of his minuscule 6 wickets. He was played so comfortably by the Indian batsmen in the 1987 series that Miandad convinced Imran to drop him for the fifth and final test in Bangalore. His replacement Iqbal Qasim and Lionel Richie's long lost Pakistani twin, shared 18 of the 20 Indian wickets equally to give Pakistan her first win in India after 35 years and with that her first ever series win in India.

Scratch even deeper and Qadir's case becomes even more laughable. Kumble's support ranged between good decent (geriatric Kapil, Srinath and for a brief period Prasad) and awful (Dodda Ganesh, Paras Mhambrey, Salil Ankola) whereas Qadir, over various times, had Imran Khan, Wasim Akram, Iqbal Qasim (171 wickets @ 28.11) and even a very young, raw & exciting Waqar Younis in the series against India. Adjusting for their relative bowling strengths, Qadir, despite the very conservative and home team aiding umpiring of the 80s, should have done much better. He should have averaged, at the very least, under 30, the bowler's equivalent of the Anti-Mendoza Line.

Despite such holes in the resume, Qadir is worshipped by the average Pakistani fan. If you didn't know better, they would tell you Qadir was the first ever leg-spin bowler in test history. Clarie Grimmett, Tiger O'Reilly, Richie Benaud, Fergie Gupte, Chandra et al were fast bowlers. Shane Warne would have never even played first-class cricket had the Aussies not seen Qadir's effectiveness. Qadir saved leg-spin bowling that was destroyed by pace, pace, pace of Lillee, Thommo, Michael, Malcolm, Joel etc. Qadir was this. Qadir was that.

I exaggerate but only just. Even the biggest Anil Kumble fan can NEVER, in good conscience, write, "Shane was good but Anil was better" like this puff piece by a Pakistani writer. I am almost sure that the writer truly believes what he wrote. Even if he wasn't being serious, an Indian writer/fan will never make such a claim even in jest. The first instinct of the Indian cricket fan is "Yeah but".

  • "Yeah but has he scored runs away?"
  • "Yeah but has he taken wickets away?"
  • "Yeah but in that series there was no McGrath"
  • "Yeah but there was no Garner. Only Marshall & Holding."
  • "Yeah but Border was out of form."

The Pakistani fan isn't so. Miandad is god despite averaging just 29.78 against the premier side of his era, West Indies. Sarfraz Nawaz, Aaqib Javed are fine bowlers despite their averages being north of 32. Waqar Younis is best destroyer of batting lineups despite averaging 40.50 in Australia. The creme de la creme is Shahid Afridi. Afridi's resume is one of the most pedestrian resumes you will ever find. Most of his fame comes from his white-ball exploits (ironic given his test batting record is decent 1716 runs @ 36.51, 5 100s) where he is so average that it's not even funny. If Afridi was Indian, he would hear the filthiest of abuses for keeping his place for nearly 400 ODIs. Pakistan adores Afridi. There was even a movie on Afridi. A country boy yearned to average cricketer. Poor Rohit Sharma, scorer of 6000+ runs at 44 with 2 double hundreds in ODIs, gets called Nohit and, with extreme prejudice and condescension, Talent.

Why do peoples of the same genetic stock behave so differently? Why can't we Indians take pride in the achievements of our cricketers like our inimical cousins do? Why is it so difficult for us to relish Rohit like Pakistanis adore Afridi?

Has it possibly got to do with religion?
Typically, a Muslim had a higher political awareness than a Hindu of national and particularly of international politics. A Muslim abdul going to madrassa will know about Turkey, Istanbul, Jerusalem, Rome, Mecca-Medina, Egypt, Baghdad and related stories. The phrase of Room-Shaam (from Rome to Siam) is made popular in Indian languages after the influence of Islam. A Hindu showed lesser awareness of international and national situation (at least places) except for popular pilgrimage places. The Polity is inherent part of Islam. In Indic religions, Artha is segregated from Dharma and Moksha (which is what pilgrimage is about).
The above is an extract from this post by the very knowledgeable Kaal-Chiron. Despite multiple reverses, the average Muslim quickly forgets them. He retains a great ability to make that one victory count and even if that one victory later fails, he still remembers the just success and overlooks the failure. Another example is Spain. Spain was entirely subjugated by Muslims. A few struggles later, the entire Muslim population was wiped out but for the mango Abdul, only the memory of Al-Andalus remains and in his mind, Inshallah, one day they shall conquer Spain again.

The average Hindu, on the other hand, has the remarkable ability for masochism. He only remembers the huge defeats. For him, it is irrelevant that a mere mention of Krishnadeva Raya made the Bahmani Sultanate shake in fear. All he remembers is the devastating defeat in Talikota. Rama Raya and his army held firm against the collective might of FIVE Sultanates and would have survived but for the betrayal of their own two Muslim divisions of 1,40,000 soldiers. The mango Anil simply ignores this level of chicanery. For him only the defeat counts. Despite the fact the Hindus recovered much of the territory post-Talikota.

Malik Kafur, the eunuch lover of Alauddin Khilji, sacked Srirangam and wrecked much devastation. It is etched in memory but how many educated Hindus remember the heroics of Kumara Kampana and Gopanarya in repelling the Islamic onslaught? How many feel pride at the naval marvel of the Cholas who conquered the seas and the entire South-East Asia? The Marathas lost in Panipat but they inflicted such a devastation and raised hell on the Afghans that they dared not to cross Indus for decades. How many mango Anils know that power was transferred to the British from the Marathas and not the Mughals?

Correlation may or may not mean causation but I personally feel this correlation between Pakistanis adoring even their most average cricketers and Indians finding faults with even their best has got to do with loving thyself and thy culture. Despite their millions of problems with poverty, terrorism, economy, Pakistanis feel proud of their country and rarely let negative news affect them. Here in India, despite great developments, rare random incidents are overblown and made to seem regular.

Hindus, collectively, have forgotten the great chivalry, valour and strength of our past. We are currently like Hanuman, unaware of our own greatness. We have accepted self-loathing and inferiority complex as the norm. When oh when will a Jambavan come to remind us of our strength and make us Carpe Futurae?


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