Riding into a narrow lane that runs parallel to the busy Kundalahalli Main Road near Marathahalli, there was little to suggest that a select few children at the Government School were going to experience what they eventually described as ‘the greatest day of their lives.’
Just before the tiny hamlet came into view, banners adorned a simple-looking school, but there was very little commotion in or around the venue.
At least the kind that one would see in the presence of an Indian cricket skipper -- present or former.
Part of a campaign
The low-profile nature of the event, however, just did not matter as former India skipper and the country’s most successful spinner Anil Kumble walked into a classroom with around 30 children on a sunny Tuesday afternoon as part of P&G’s ‘Shiksha Diwas’ campaign and acted the part of ‘Teacher of the Day’ to perfection.
Kumble, who strikes a more serious figure on the field and as president of the Karnataka State Cricket Association, spoke in fluent Kannada and cracked enough jokes to put the kids at ease.
After taking attendance, Kumble quickly struck a chord with the students and then conducted a quiz, which was the highlight of the day. While the children had little trouble answering questions, which were about Ranji Trophy, the children were stumped.
“Ranji Trophy is part of which sport?” asked Kumble. “Chess,” came the first hesitant reply followed by a string of wrong answers before one youngster said ‘cricket’, for which she won a pencil box.
“Who was the captain when Karnataka won their first Ranji Trophy title?” asked the day’s ‘quizmaster’. “Kapil Dev,” said an unassuming little kid.
“When did Kapil Dev play for Karnataka!?” Kumble enquired humorously before spelling out the answer - E A S Prasanna (1973).
At the end of the quiz programme, the third highest wicket-taker in cricket history sat amidst the children in a cramped classroom to witness a song and dance programme which signalled the end to a memorable day.
Some tricks of the trade
Before the very end though, one student asked him how to spin the ball, and Kumble asked for a ball. Much to his surprise, the children were ready with one and when he got hold of the tennis ball, he showed them some tricks of the trade.
“Forget about spin. Show me how to hit the wicket each and every time?” asked one of the more vociferous of students. Kumble, still laughing at the youngster’s boldness, said: “For that, you have to train very hard. Bowl each and every day. You will only get educated, if you come to school every day. If you come one day, nothing will change.
Bowling is like that. You have to work on it every day to hit the wicket every time,”
It may have been just another day in the life of a legend, but for the children who were in his presence, it was much more.