"Jumbo" is a name one normally associated with an elephant. It starts right from childhood when one hears a story of a baby elephant named Jumbo. He is a good elephant, lives long and has great memory.
Anil Kumble is called as' Jumbo' by his teammates - it started in his Karnataka team and that is how his Indian team mates call him. My guess is that the name was associated with him for his height and the way his ball would rise swiftly to a batsman foxing him completely. However, Anil has truly displayed the characteristics of the elephant in the story - he has been around in the cricketing arena for a mind-boggling 17 years and has as sharp memory and a cricketing acumen as one can have.
It all started when the tall, bespectacled , and a slender young engineer with a boyish moustache on his lips appeared in his whites in the year 1990 against England in England. He joined the team when India was coming to grips with the magical Hirwani - and yet managed to make an impact in the very first innings by taking 3 wickets. From there on, Kumble has bowled in every ground in the world and played against every possible country for the last 17 years - In the event, the moustache disappeared, the boy became a man, and he gained little weight and immense respect from all around the world. He broke many records, his own jaw and went on to become the most wicket taking bowler for India and will now be the third highest wicket taker in the whole world, not to mention his 10 wickets in an innings!
This man, who today is toast of the world was however ridiculed by many during his initial years for not turning the ball enough and being ineffective on foreign pitches.(yours truly was not an exception) But one quality which this man has, is that of not giving up which amazes me to no extent. He toils and toils and toils in any condition - just keeps going on and on and on for over after over, thinking before every ball and delivering the goods - or even when not able to deliver, he still toils and toils. Jumbo may be the name of an elephant, but a true quality this Jumbo has exemplified has that been of a 'warhorse'. Just like his teammate Jammy, Jumbo has been the warhorse for India. He is unstoppable and unplayable.
But he has had his share of failures too. One of the many instances when he could not secure a win for India on the last day of a test match was when a dogged Cullinan and rains stopped Anil Kumble in his tracks - I am sure that the whole country looking towards him to deliver the goods, but when he could not get Cullinan out, Anil must have been devastated like the rest of us - but he is a learner and a keen one at that. He bounced back from every failure to give better than he could for the team and the country.
A keen learner, Kumble has been giving a lot of attention to his batting and fielding skills. Yes he looks funny when he lunges at the ball at Gully and he might have scored his maiden century only after 17 years in international cricket, but this man has been a pillar for the team - his batting style has been unique - his front foot would come ahead first and then the bat, and invariably, the ball would go towards the third man - I am sure that more than half of his total runs have come from third man area. His defence has always been solid and he puts a heavy price on his wicket - it was funny to hear Dravid say about Kumble that whenever the latter is given out LBW - he always denies being truly out! This tells either how much he has learnt to avoid being given a LBW or how much he can bluff with his teammates! :-)
Never touched by any controversy, ever a gentleman who gave his best to the game of gentlemen and a true team man who was never bothered by competition and always encouraged youngsters - no doubt everyone in dressing room was jumping with joy when Jumbo got his first century! Talking of this innings, it was a characteristic Kumble inning - started cautiously, gained confidence and played strokes whenever required, but was always cautious till the end - and hence he remained unbeaten and rightfully so.
Nice guys always do not finish last! :-)
(Images Courtesy: Google Images and Cricinfo)