Sunday, November 02, 2008 inspire confidence,pride and supreme dignity

I am not the first one talking so highly of Anil Kumble. Nor am I the last Indian to be saying that I am so proud that such a fantastic individual graced the game of cricket at the international level for us, for such a long time. Makes me feel so proud as an Indian.

I consider myself quite fortunate of having spent 30 seconds next to Anil Kumble at the Bangalore cricket stadium in 1993. This was when he was not so famous. But, even then, I could not resist from going up to him and taking his autograph on a plastic cap that I had. Something about that man was inherently inspiring. I felt it even at that time - all of us are wiser in hindsight. But my gut feel told me about this man's greatness even then. I just felt a sense of immense pride getting his autograph on that Saturday afternoon back in 1993.

Another moment was the Titan Cup in 1997 in Bangalore. He and Srinath single-handedly took India to victory, after Mark Taylor hit his first ODI century. And the scenes in the stadium was a sight to behold. Cheering, even a good defensive shot against the impulsive, super-charged Glenn McGrath.

So, the great man has called it quits today. That too, at his favourite ground, the Ferosha Kotla, New Delhi. I dare say, it was simply terrific to see his family next to him, the entire stadium going up in unison cheering him, and on this occasion, seeing the Aussies credit the great man. It was simply terrific to see such unadulterated and sincere appreciation, respect and pride for a man who played international cricket for us, with such character.

I actually thought I'd have tons to write about this man when he retires. But today, as I see the headlines on the news, I am just lost for words for the manner in which this fine individual conducted himself even in his retirement. Simple, uncomplicated announcement, a last declaration and short stint of 4 overs on his favourite ground, greeting his opponents, fellow-players and umpires and heading out of the ground. The moment of Kumble's retirement at the Kotla has to his holding the Indian cap in his hand and waving it around the ground in his final lap of honour.

Hats off, Anil. Hats off. I am too little to be writing anything about you, except being inspired by you, to make a decent contribution in my own life. Hope to see you at the Bangalore stadium, in the future. I will definitely get your autograph again.

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