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Updated on December 15th 2021, 11:08:43 am

Anil Kumble: Engineer to India’s Leading Wicket Taker

Profoundly referred to as Jumbo, Anil Kumble’s cricket career spanned over 18 years from 1990-2008. The man has seen and done all that dream of. A look at his career journey and stats.

“I have never seen anything like that in sports,” said Indian Physio Andrew Leipus. “His jaw is completely broken”. It was Anil Kumble who walked onto the pitch with his entire jaw bandaged. He dismissed Lara in one of the most forgotten matches. At that moment Anil Kumble defined what playing for your nation means.


 Profoundly referred to as Jumbo, his Indian career spanned over 18 years from 1990-2008. The man has seen and done all that dream of. Graduating with an Engineering degree, debuting for India, breaking records, and becoming India’s greatest leg spinner and leading wicket-taker. Here is a journey of the googly maestro.

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Early Life and Debut


Kumble was born in Bangalore and drew interest in cricket from an early age and the studies happened simultaneously. He joined a cricket club at the age of 13 and joined an engineering college post-school. It is a rare sight to see a player devoting time to courses such as engineering while looking for a cricket career.


While he was in his first year, Kumble made his first-class debut for Karnataka against Hyderabad. His performances at first-class cricket earned him a call from the Indian side in early 1990.


Kumble made his ODI debut against Sri Lanka in Sharjah. He took a single wicket from the match. His test debut came in the same year when India toured England. It wasn’t a great debut as he picked 3 wickets in the match. 

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Career And Peak


Following his debut, the Indian side didn’t see Kumble until 1992. After a gap of nearly 2 years, Kumble proved his mettle as a quality leg spinner when he was picked for the South African tour. He took a total of 18 wickets in the series. Following the series, there was no stopping Kumble.


Back then he went on to become the fastest bowler to take 50 wickets (record now broken by Ravi Ashwin). He also became the quickest to 100 wickets in just 21 matches. (Broken by Erapalli Prasanna).  


Unlike fellow leg spinners, Kumble was never a big spinner of the ball, but his quickness, accuracy, and googlies were getting the job done for him. The next victim was the West Indies when he took his personal best of 6/12 runs on 27th November 1993 in the Hero cup Final.


Kumble was the main spinner in the Indian side by the 1996 World Cup, in fact despite India’s exit in the semi-finals, the tournament was an individual achievement for Jumbo. He was the highest wicket-taker (15). He also ended the year as the highest wicket-taker in 1996 with 61 ODI wickets to his name.


Cut to 1999, when Kumble scripted history. He took 10 wickets in a single innings against Pakistan in the Delhi test. He was the 2nd bowler in history to do so. Kumble was on the rise as was team India.


In 2004, Kumble joined the league of Kapil Dev to become the second Indian to pick 400 test wickets. In the very same year, he surpassed the legend himself to become India’s leading wicket-taker in Test cricket. In 2006, Kumble dismissed England’s Steve Harrison to take 500 wickets.

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Later Career and Retirement


During his later career, Kumble made his bat talk for a change. He scored his maiden test century at the Oval against England on 10th August 2007. He scored an unbeaten 110, which is a record for taking the most matches (118) to score a test century. In the very same year, Kumble surpassed Glenn McGrath to become the 3rd highest wicket-taker in cricket history behind Muralitharan and Warne.


Post a disappointing campaign at the 2007 World Cup, Kumble was appointed to lead the side. During his stint as a captain, he reached 600 test wickets in 2008. Kumble’s decline began with a finger injury he sustained against Australia in 2008. 


Following injuries continuous disturbance to his game, Kumble decided to retire from all forms of cricket at the age of 38.


In his post-retirement era, Kumble played IPL for Bangalore and is currently the head coach for Punjab Kings. He also coached team India in 2016 and stepped down in 2017 following a controversial stint with Virat Kohli.

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Records :

  • India’s leading Wicket-taker in Test, ODI, and Overall

  • Best Bowling figures by an Indian (10/74)

  • Arjuna award, a sports award from the Government of India, in 1995

  • One of the Wisden Cricketers of the Year, in 1996

  • Padma Shri, a civilian award from the Government of India, in 2005

  • ICC Cricket Hall of Fame, a sports award from the ICC, in 2015


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