No. 36 August 23, 2009

Kumble bowls with a broken jaw

Lionheart grits his teeth and shoulders the load
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St John's, 12 May 2002

The sight of Anil Kumble emerging from the pavilion, ready to bowl, his face bandaged, in the Antigua Test of 2002, is one of cricket's most inspiring.

Kumble sent down 14 consecutive overs and became the first bowler to dismiss Brian Lara while bowling with a broken jaw. He was due to fly back to Bangalore the following day for surgery, and as he said, "At least I can now go home with the thought that I tried my best.

"It was one of the bravest things I've seen on the field of play," said Viv Richards later.

Batting at No. 7 (Ajay Ratra at No. 8 made a century), Kumble was hit by Merv Dillon. He spat out blood but batted on for another 20 minutes. The series was poised 1-1 and this was the fourth Test. India declared at 513 for 9.

Lesser acts have become legends in the game. Colin Cowdrey's coming out with a broken hand against West Indies in 1963, for example. He didn't have to face a ball, as his partner saved the Test. But it is cited for bravery even ahead of Australian Rick McCosker's batting at No. 10 with a broken jaw, which contributed to his team's victory in the Centenary Test.

Kumble's Test was drawn, West Indies declaring at 629 for 9. His reason for returning to bowl: "I didn't want to sit around" is as fine an example of the self-effacing statement as you will find in cricket.

Suresh Menon is a writer based in Bangalore. This article was first published in the print version of Cricinfo Magazine