Admiring Capel spins a touching Kumble tale

County yarns

He is deeply respected and held in high esteem, especially by those who played alongside him in 1995.

“It was really fantastic when Anil came here to play,” says Kumble’s team-mate and now Northants coach David Capel. The former England all-rounder had a close association with the ace leg-spinner. “At the very outset, we all found him very enthusiastic and a keen cricketer. I had a chat with him when he initially came here and he told me he will bowl over a 1000 overs and take over 100 wickets,” Capel recalls.

Indeed, he did take 100 wickets, including eight five-wicket and two 10-wicket hauls, but he didn’t need to bowl 1000 overs for his 105 scalps that season. Kumble, Capel points out, was a fierce cricketer. “His determination and competitive spirit are the two things I admired the most. He had this aggressive mindset about him that would make a batsman feel he is at him all the time. He was very mature for a 24-year-old man. He had a bit of business going back home also. He was very sure about what he was doing. He knew what direction he wanted to go in life and in cricket,” he says.

Capel acknowledges that he benefitted greatly from the Bangalorean’s presence in the side. “I wasn’t around for two years with injury and had come back determined to do well, and ended up scoring 1000 runs and 50 wickets. But the reason I was able to take as many wickets was because I didn’t have to bowl too many overs.

“I didn’t have to bowl against the wind. Anil would bowl all those overs against the wind. I normally bowled in short spells and bowled about 200 overs less than I would have. So the workload was less and therefore I was fresh in mind, body and spirit to take wickets. I really enjoyed my bowling partnerships with him,” he tells you.

The pitch here at the County Ground is more pace-friendly now, but Capel dismisses the theories that the slow nature of the pitch in the past might have helped Kumble bag so many wickets. “Yes, there is definitely more pace and bounce on the wicket,” agrees Capel. “Those days, we used to do leave the ends a little bit drier. Not that it made a hell of a difference to him, because he took almost as many wickets here as playing away.

“Psychologically, it may have affected the batsmen as in there wouldn’t be much grass on the ends and it would bring Anil into play. Actually it didn’t matter if it didn’t turn enormously because he didn’t turn the ball much anyway. He was unerringly accurate and because of his line and length, the ball only had to turn a couple of inches to take the edges on either side,” he reasons.

How come he never played for Northants again? “We tried to get him back several times. Even last year, I tried to get him for the T20 tournament and he considered it also but then he said ‘Oh Capes, I am so tired.’ I nearly persuaded him, but I guess he had had enough of it,” he concludes.

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