The value of Anil Kumble was underestimated
I've been watching plenty of cricket lately. I watched Australia bat better than South Africa in two Tests, and saw them unable to finish them off in the second Test. I saw them beat a very bad Sri Lankan side, but only barely, in Hobart.
One thing kept popping into my head: We never fully appreciated Anil Kumble when he played cricket.
Sachin Tendulkar is the greatest Indian cricketer ever... and these days I might even say he's the best player I've ever seen. But in hindsight, Kumble was responsible for almost as many Test victories. The old adage is true: Batsman draw you the game, bowlers win it for you.
He didn't take as many wickets as Warne and Murali, but he got the wickets and that's what mattered. There's five days in a Test. It matters less the speed you get the wickets at, than actually getting the wickets.
And as huge a fan as I am of Shane Warne (the best bowler ever for mine), it has to be said Kumble could bowl for longer than Warne could in his last four years or so. Where Warne could get fatigued (he looked old and slow in South Africa in 2006), Kumble kept going and going.
People also didn't appreciate the fact that Kumble was so accurate and consistent. He was a player who wasn't always going to take wickets immediately, but only after long continuous pressure. When many bowlers get tired and lose their accuracy and have to be rested, Kumble kept going and going...
The more cricket I watch, the more I feel it's more important to just get the wickets rather than having a great average or strike rate - although those things are important. Anil Kumble got more wickets per Test than Glenn McGrath!
I think I could name seven or eight bowlers I've seen better than him, but in hindsight I'm not sure those bowlers were as necessary to winning Tests as Kumble was.
Lastly, he was a pretty good captain.
Kumble = underrated.