BANGALORE: A privileged audience at the M. Chinnaswamy Stadium here was treated to a rare interaction between members of India’s famed spin quartet. A triumvirate, really, would have been a more accurate description on the evening for lack of one member – S. Venkataraghavan.
But the absence of the reclusive, veteran off-spinner was more than made up for by Anil Kumble, another invaluable contribution to the Indian cause from Karnataka State Cricket Association, whose Platinum Jubilee celebrations culminated in a grand event on Saturday night.
Kumble, introduced to the audience as 'the only bowler to have dismissed Brian lara with a broken jaw', acknowledged the pressure of performing under such a great and glorious legacy of spin bowling.
“To be honest, it was a tough legacy to take forward. It was always a challenge knowing that I had to live up not only to my own expectations, but also to the inevitable comparisons that people would make.”
“The advantage I had was that I came to the Chinnaswamy Stadium as a 15-year-old for a coaching camp, Chandra (BS Chandrasekhar) was in charge. One of the first things he did was to lengthen my run-up and this helped me through my career,” Kumble said.
Chandra, of the polio-ravaged arm and snarling leg-breaks, recounted his meteoric rise from the streets to playing for the country.
“I was playing street cricket with my friends when someone from City Cricketers asked me to come and turn out for the club. I got wickets and within three or four months I was playing for India.”
The leg-spinner, whose five-wicket haul at the Oval in 1971 gave India their first series win in England, stressed on the importance of having a good captain to bowl under.
“I was incredibly lucky with the kind of captains I had. I was a different kind of bowler so it was important that I had a captain who understood me. At Karnataka there was the great Subramanya, at South Zone, a master reader of the game in ML Jaisimha, and at India Tiger Pataudi.”
The big-hearted left-arm spinner Bishan Singh Bedi, meanwhile, was as usual courting controversy, this time focusing on the perennially debatable Decision Review System.
“The genie is out of the bottle now,” he said on DRS, “and the bloody thing won’t go back in.”
“We have to live with it and things will get better with time. You have to consider, though, that modern cricketers can make things better by being honest. This will help eradicate errors,” said the man who, as the national coach in 1990, threatened to dump the entire Indian cricket team into the ocean.