On Anil Kumble’s 49th birthday, Ravichandran Ashwin and Ajinkya Rahane recalled the moment of inspiration when the former cricketer walked out to bowl despite a broken jaw to lift the team’s spirits at St John’s stadium in May 2002.
Kumble had gotten hit by Merv Dhillon’s delivery in the first innings. The legendary leg spinner batted for 20 more minutes before losing his wicket to the same bowler.
After India declared their first innings, West Indies batsmen were dominating Indian bowlers when an injured Kumble came out to bowl sporting a bandage. The incident is considered one of the most iconic moments of Indian cricket history.
Calling it an example of ‘courage and bravado’, Ashwin said, “We knew Anil Kumble had got hit on his jaw and fractured it. We need someone, we needed the spinner to comeback and actually bowl for us and try salvage the result of the game. What was to be seen was something very historic. He came out with a big bandage around his head which went all around.”
“It was an experience of full courage. He showed the entire country and the entire world what courage he had and what resolve he had from inside. He put it on exhibition and when he came out and got Lara out, that was like the touching point. You can’t look forward to anybody else better than Anil Kumble to show the way forward. I think that spell put India on the map I would say in terms of how India was to play cricket in the future with courage and bravado,” the off-spinner told bcci.tv.
REWIND 📽️📽️: On @anilkumble1074‘s Birthday, here’s how one of the most iconic events in cricket inspired many 💪💪
Happy Birthday Legend 👏👏 pic.twitter.com/tq1YOH4KxT
— BCCI (@BCCI) October 17, 2019
The leg-spinner not only bowled a marathon spell but managed to get the wicket of Brian Lara as well before flying back home for surgery. The match ended in a draw.
“That moment inspired all of us. I was very young, I remember it inspired us a lot. Not only did he bowl, but he took Brian Lara’s wicket. That was commendable. You learn a lot from these things,” Rahane said.
Both Ashwin and Rahane played under Kumble when he was the head coach of Team India.
Andre Leipus, India’s physio (1999-2004) on that tour considered seeing Kumble play with strapping on his head as an achievement. “It was an amazing learning opportunity for me. It was amazing to see the amount of strength and character that Anil had to go back out there and fight for the team. So I had to delve into my toolbox, my bag of tricks and came out with this particular type of strapping. As it turned out it worked quite nicely. He felt really secure. It was an amazing sense of achievement to see him go out there and go through that pain level just to do it for the team,” Leipus said.