Friday, January 23, 2009

Sanath Jayasuriya Interview - 'Kumble's contribution to cricket huge'

Sri Lanka's champion batsman Jayasuriya pays tribute to former India captain

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Sri Lanka opener Sanath Jayasuriya believes that Anil Kumble retired from the sport at the right time, but was of the opinion that he could have returned to his best had he opted to continue at the top level. The veteran batsman speaking from Hong Kong where he will represent the All Stars team at the Hong Kong Cricket Sixes that gets underway on Saturday hailed Kumble's contribution to the sport.

"As a team we have a lot of respect for Anil. The fact that he practiced a very difficult art for 19 long years speaks of his commitment and passion for the sport," the former Sri Lanka captain said.

Kumble announced his retirement during the recent Delhi Test after he split a finger that required 11 stitches.

"Earlier on in his career, we had a set plan to counter him on a theory based on Aravinda de Silva's assessment during the mid 90s, but later, we found that he had worked on a few variations and we had to adapt quickly. Anil was a quick learner and something that made him a tough opponent was his understanding that at the top level you need to keep on improving," Jayasuriya said.

Kumble struggled towards the end of his career as he picked up just eight wickets in a three Test series in Sri Lanka and then in the series opener against Australia, he failed to pick up a wicket in Bangalore and then missed the second Test in Mohali due to a shoulder injury before returning to the side in the Delhi Test where he announced his retirement with India still leading the series.

"He was struggling a bit here and the injuries weren't healing as fast as he would have liked so that would have forced him to retire. But I have no doubt in my mind that he would have returned to his best if not for the unfortunate injury in Delhi," Jayasuriya added.
"Very few people realize that he's the third highest wicket taker in the world. Warne, Murali and Anil have taken spin bowling to a different level and this will be remembered as the golden era of spin bowling."

"He was a decent lad, but that doesn't mean he wasn't tough. Very intelligent as well and a chat on cricket with him was always interesting and I liked his company," Jayasuriya said.

Kumble was part of the Indian side as Jayasuriya mauled the Indian attack on his way to a marathon 340 as Sri Lanka posted a World Record 952 for six declared at R. Premadasa where he purchased a solitary wicket for 223 runs.

"The wicket was flat but I tell you what, it wasn't easy batting against him. Your concentration level had to be extremely high when you bat for that long and all what it takes is one mistake. I didn't get out to him, but he dismissed Roshan (Mahanama) after our huge partnership and soon I was out too to Rajesh Chauhan," Jayasuriya remembered.
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