It’s been more than 20 years but Anil Kumble’s incredible feat of taking all 10 wickets in an innings is yet to be duplicated. On February 7, 1999, former India leg-spinner Kumble became only the second man bowler in history to grab 10 wickets in an innings and on his 50th birthday, Kumble’s former India and Karnataka teammate Venkatesh Prasad has shared an interesting post-match story about how he hid the ball with which Kumble did the unthinkable.
“The biggest moment I can recollect about Anil is his 10 wickets in an innings in the Test match against Pakistan in Delhi. When he claimed the final wicket (Wasim Akram), somebody (V V S Laxman) had thrown the ball after taking the catch because we all were celebrating his 10-wicket haul. I went and picked up the ball because it was a treasured possession to have the ball with which he claimed all 10 wickets in an innings,’ Prasad told Rediff.com.
“Later, I was sitting next to him in the dressing room. Everyone was celebrating and talking about his incredible achievement of 10 wickets in an innings. And then I asked whether he had the ball with him, and that’s when it dawned on him and he said, ‘Oh my god, I should have taken the ball’. Then slowly I took out the ball from my pocket and handed it over to Kumble.”
Prasad credited Kumble for his longevity. Kumble played for India for 18 years before retiring in 2008 but not before he had become India’s leading wicket-taker in Tests. In fact, he remains the third highest wicket-taker overall behind Muttiah Muralitharan and Shane Warne and Prasad reckons it’s all because the tremendous dedication shown by him throughout his near 20-year-long career.
“I coached the Indian team in 2007 (as bowling coach). He was the captain. There were only two Karnataka players in the team – Kumble and Rahul Dravid – and we used to spend a lot of time together talking. We used to discuss strategy. He used to gather all the bowlers and talk to everybody. I let him be the lead, being the senior bowler and the captain,” Prasad recalled.
“People thought it would be impossible to break Kapil Dev’s record (434 wickets) but he went from strength to strength and became the highest wicket-taker for India in Tests even though he was a spinner. Mind you, he was not a big turner of the ball.”