The present Indian spin resources obviously don’t stack up well against a legacy that the country boasts of but legendary spinner Anil Kumble believes the lack of “tolerance” towards the slower bowlers is affecting the quality.
“There has been a lot debate and talk about the lack of quality that India has but I don’t believe in that,” Kumble told Deccan Herald on the eve of the 25th anniversary of his Test debut against England in Manchester on August 9 in 1990.
“I cetrainly believe that there are spinners who are extremely capable... I have said this before that somehow we don’t have the same level of tolerance towards spinners that we have towards some other skill sets of the game. Perhaps we look at the legacy of Indian spin bowling and say that a spinner needs to lead the attack. Things have changed and there are some qualiy fast bowlers in the mix. As long as everybody is equipped to take 20 wickets to win a Test match and you have quality in every department, it shouldn’t worry you,” the former India captain reasoned.
While rating R Ashwin highly, Kumble felt the return of another off-spinner Harbhajan Singh was a welcome development.
“Ashwin has shown in the his international career what he is capable of... perhaps at the stage he is in, I don’t think any spinner has performed the way he has. And with Bhajji coming back into the side -- an experience of over 400 Test wickets -- it’s a great advantage that not many international teams have today. He is still bowling well and all he needs is some backing. It will be good to see both of them bowling in tendem,” he noted.
The owner of 956 international wickets (619 in Tests and 337 in ODIs), Kumble recalled his hourney often strewn with harsh citicism.
“I have taken all these setbacks in my stride; whether it was the criticism about my bowling or my ability to take wickets outside of India or comparing me with other spinners and other great bowlers... But I have taken every criticism to improve myself rather than get bogged down or frustrated. I don’t think there is one way of succeeding. Yes, the text books certainly tell you the way or the method to succeed but I certainly believed that I need look at my strengths. I kept improving on my strengths, I kept masking my limitations whatever I could. Yes, there were times when I did try to become a classical leg-spinner and those experiments didn’t work and then I realised that ‘look, it’s not worth being somebody else.’ You would rather be yourself and let everyone else accept the way you are,” he explained.
India’s highest wicket-taker admitted that a spinner’s role was more challenging now than before but reinventing oneself was the key to remain relevent in the age of three formats.
“More often than not, you see the batsmen these days, they look at a spinner as someone they can take on,” he began. “...So the mindset of a bowler needs to change. If you look at the Ashes, most of the batsmen were looking to attack. That’s the change you see in cricket where batsmen tend to hit out of pressure situations than grinding their way in. Very few batsmen are like that (playing the waiting game) whereas it was the otherway round in the past. So it’s just a matter of adjusting to that and if you have good skill sets, you will.”