In Club 600

Anil KumbleIndian skipper, Anil Kumble, becomes the third man ever to reach the milestone in Test matches.

For someone who only occasionally got his due and spent most of his 18 years in international cricket under scrutiny, despite being among the most successful of his peers, Anil Kumble remains remarkably calm. He does not show his emotions unless he gets a wicket and that he has fire in his belly becomes evident only when he takes the ball in his hand.

It was no different at the WACA ground on Thursday when he became the third man in history and the first Indian to take 600 Test wickets and in the process, led his team to a strong position to win the third Test. Speaking to the media after the day’s play, he was nonchalant, as if nothing had happened, and admitted that the landmark was special only after being asked specifically what it meant to him.

Kumble believes that such records were ought to be achieved if one plays for so long. There were ups and downs, difficulties and moments of joy which, finally, contributed to his success. The criticisms and accolades both helped, as did the desire to get better. Kumble’s words hardly betrayed emotions.

For someone who was known as the ‘spin-less wonder’ early on in his career, the mechanical engineer has worked his way forward with such amazing precision and dexterity that what others thought of him never became an obstacle. According to Kumble, it was all about creating doubts in the batsman’s mind. It doesn’t matter whether it was done with a straight ball, a spinning one, a swinging one or a bouncer.

Curiously enough, the 37-plus attributed his phenomenal success rate over the last few years to the shoulder surgery he underwent in 2001.

A man of few words but big deeds, Kumble is a rare phenomenon in contemporary cricket. All, including the opposition batsmen, knew he couldn’t turn the ball a great deal, but kept watching with awe at the staggering rate at which he has struck. A tireless worker, he never flinched in the face of a challenge, often ending up bowling 30 overs on the first day of the test match. Six hundred wickets is just a small appreciation of the splendid service he has rendered to cricket. The man with the golden shoulder deserves each one of them.

Raghav Agarwal