KARACHI (AFP) – Former Pakistan greats on Monday paid tribute to Indian leg-spinner Anil Kumble after one of the world’s finest ever bowlers announced his retirement from Test cricket.
The 38-year-old Indian ace, the third highest wicket-taker in Test cricket with 619 from 132 matches, announced his retirement after the drawn third Test against Australia in New Delhi on Sunday.
Former Pakistan captain Wasim Akram said Kumble was a role model.
“On and off the field Kumble proved a quality cricketer,” Wasim told AFP. “He was a fierce competitor on the field and a gentleman off it,” said Wasim, who played against the Indian spinner until his retirement in 2003.
Wasim said Kumble’s 10-wicket haul in an innings against Pakistan at New Delhi in 1999 was particularly memorable.
“It is still at the back of my mind because I was the last victim. Waqar (Younis) and I were at the crease and Kumble had taken nine wickets so my partner told me that he will hit out so that Kumble doesn’t get the last wicket.
“I assured him that I will handle Kumble and he won’t get the 10th wicket but in the very next over Kumble spun a sharp delivery and I was out. It proved he was one of the greatest spinners.”
Former Pakistan leg-spinner Abdul Qadir said Kumble was different from celebrated Aussie Shane Warne, who retired last year with 708 wickets in 145 matches.
“For me he was less artistic than Warne but the confidence Kumble exuded is an example for future cricketers. He had a fantastic art and a fantastic career,” said Qadir, who took 236 wickets in 67 Tests.
“Kumble’s art was not obvious, Warne’s was. Warne had perfect leg-spin, Kumble’s wasn’t, yet with the God-gifted confidence Kumble had he played cricket with pomp and pride.”
Another former leg-spinner, Intikhab Alam, said Kumble’s contribution to Indian cricket was “phenomenal”.
“The world will always pay tribute to Kumble. His services for Indian cricket were phenomenal and it was sensible of him to retire at an appropriate time because Amit Mishra has almost taken his place,” said Alam, who is now Pakistan team coach.