Anil Kumble, India's most successful bowler, on Friday announced his retirement from one-day internationals. He, however, would continue to play Test matches.
A proven match-winner in the longer version of the game, Kumble, surprisingly, was never an automatic choice in the one-dayers, for which he often had to pave way for his younger spin colleague Harbhajan Singh.
In this World Cup too, Kumble played just one match, picking up 3 for 38 against Bermuda, while Harbhajan was preferred for India's matches against Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. Incidentally India's lone win in the World Cup came against Bermuda.
The expected announcement of his retirement came a day after his return from the disastrous campaign in the Caribbean.
Former India wicketkeeper Kiran More, who played alongside Kumble in the early 1990's, pays rich tribute to the spin legend.
'Kumble is a matured cricketer and I think he made this decision at the right time,' he told Special Correspondent Harish Kotian.
Your reactions on Kumble's decision to retire from one-dayers.
I think he made the announcement at the right time. He is a matured cricketer and one of the senior-most in the current Indian team, so he knew when to go out and I think he made this decision at the right time.
He had a good opportunity to prove himself at the World Cup; he played one match and did well. I think he has gone out on a high note. It's not that Kumble has not done well and has gone out of the team or was dropped.
Kumble himself announced that he will not play in the one-dayers, but he will be available for the Test matches. He is a match-winner and the highest wicket-taker in Tests for India.
Do you feel that not being considered for the key matches against Bangladesh and Sri Lanka in the World Cup hurt him?
I don't think so. He is a matured cricketer. He knows what the team wants from him. He is a person who will not show off [his reactions] or come out in the media and say something and that shows the character of the person.
I have got a very high regard for Kumble. He is one of the key member [of the team] and the amount of performance he has given he has not got the mileage that he deserves. Some of the cricketers who have done a bit, but have been highlighted more than Kumble.
He has been one of the best performers I have ever come across in Indian cricket. He never let it go till the last ball was bowled because he was a great fighter.
Even though he was down with injuries and other issues, he always came back strongly. Kumble has been dropped so many times but he never gives up.
Whether it is the first ball or the last ball, it doesn't matter whether he takes wickets or not, his attitude and his mental toughness is always the same. He is a great example for any youngster.
You were the chief selector when the selection committee decided to keep Kumble out and preferred to have youngsters. How difficult was the decision and what were the reasons for it?
We along with Rahul Dravid and Greg Chappell discussed this issue with Kumble. We told him that we would take him for the ICC Champions Trophy [last year] but unfortunately he was not fit and was not available.
We had made our plans clear [of playing him only in important tournaments] and he was happy with it. We had mentioned to him that whenever we need him we will call him.
He was one of our key players and was part of our planning regarding the ICC Champions Trophy and the World Cup. He knew about it and that is how came into the Indian team for the World Cup.
I don't think he took it badly that we dropped him because we had already informed him of the decision. And whenever we needed him, we selected him like the Pakistan tour [last year] and some of the other tours. So it was not like we had not communicated with him. He has given his heart to Indian cricket and is one of the best behaved players in the Indian team.
You kept wickets against Kumble in his early days. How difficult was it?
The best part about Kumble is his aggression. I have always enjoyed keeping wickets against them, especially on the third day and the fourth day of a Test match.
In the sub continental conditions, he was one of the most difficult bowlers to keep wickets because he used to get extra bounce. After playing around 50-60 wickets he got more matured and came out with a lot of varieties.
Lot of people including former spinners have criticised him saying he is not a spinner. But according to me he is one of the greatest spinners India have ever produced.
Any special memories of Kumble when you both played together?
I remember the match Kumble made his debut against England in 1990. He cried in the dressing room because he did not bowl well. But he was still a youngster, he came back and proved that he is going to be there and the rest is history.
Even in the dressing room he is very calm, composed and focused on his job. He loves his music and talks cricket all the time. He is a great team man.
How much has his bowling changed since the start of his career, especially in one-dayers?
In his early, Kumble was categorised as a bowler, who bowls a lot of top-spin and more googlies, incoming deliveries and gets quicker. But then later on in his career he started turning the ball and worked on different variations. With the number of overs he bowled, he learned a lot on how to bowl in the first spell or the second spell.
Kumble is a great asset to the team as he can bowl around 40-50 overs from one end, while the other bowlers bowl from the other end.
Can you name any other young spinners who could replace Kumble in the one-day team?
There is a good chance of Piyush Chawla, who has been doing well in domestic cricket. Leg-spinners always take time to settle, so I hope he will get a few more opportunities.
You never know there might be some other upcoming youngster from somewhere who performs well in domestic cricket and gets a chance in the Indian team.