Over the past few decades Anil Kumble has seen the rapid evolution of cricket from close quarters in various roles. As India’s all-time leading wicket-taker across formats, as a former India captain, as part of the Royal Challengers Bangalore playing squad, as the former head coach of the Indian cricket team and as part of the support staff with Mumbai Indians and Punjab Kings.
In the ongoing Indian Premier League 2023, there seems to be an added dimension to the game with the new impact player rule that has unlocked higher scores for teams across the board but also challenging bowlers to evolve.
It is further proof that T20 cricket is changing constantly. Along with the dynamic nature of the format, the art of leg-spin is also growing more valuable. And Kumble, who is part of the Jio Cinema broadcast team, on Friday spoke to the media through a virtual interaction about this and more.
Here are excerpts from the media interaction:
On the overall assessment of the impact player rule
The rule certainly is still evolving. But having said that, it certainly has made an impact on on freeing up a few of the batters. So you see a lot more 200+ scores the season than perhaps what we saw in the previous seasons at this stage of the tournament, so that to me, is because you have an extra batter and also you have an extra bowler so you basically have a perfect all rounder in your team, despite not having an all rounder. But this season, every team can fill that gap by using the impact player. So in my view, it certainly is still evolving. Some teams have used it, some teams have focused too much on the impact layer and then picked their eleven and some some teams have certainly looked to use the back there very effectively. But like I mentioned, because of the impact player rule, you see a lot more two hundreds happening the season.
On Rashid Khan’s influence on wrist-spin and his legacy in the IPL
I think he’s been exceptional. See, every bowler takes time to develop. But Rashid and the impact that that one spinner has had over the years is very similar to a Sunil Narine-type of a bowler. Where every season, they have come in and the batters are still figuring out as to how to sort of take on these kinds of spinners.
Rashid, to me has been the front runner and the flagbearer. Noor (Ahmad), Kuldeep (Yadav) and (Ravi) Bishnoi all the wrist-spinners, I think have certainly taken a leaf out of Rashid’s book. And all teams, if you look at all the franchises now all the 10 franchises have a wrist-spinner in their lineup. Suyash Sharma (for instance), even he’s been very impressive. He’s never played till the time that he played IPL, he has never played proper competitive cricket, first class cricket which is outstanding. So these are the kinds of stories that will inspire players to pick up wrist-spin. And we saw Noor as well, who comes from Afghanistan, and obviously looked up to Rashid.
So he’s inspired a lot in a lot of spinners to take up, leg-spin and wrist-spin. And he continues to do that. And what amazes me is he comes on to bowl and still is as effective or if not more effective than what he used to be in the previous seasons. So it’s not just about bowling wrist spin, it’s also about evolving and then excelling in that art day in day out and making a difference to your team, whichever team that you’re playing for. And that’s something that Rashid has done consistently throughout his career for whichever team he has played for.
On the impact player rule allowing two leg-spinners to bowl in tandem
It all depends on what the team management wants to do and how they want to use the impact player rule and which possible player would suit their team against the opposition. I’m a bit biased towards leg-spin, so I would always use an additional leg-spinner. We did a talking tactics (piece) on Jio Cinema regarding RCB where I felt that Karn Sharma could be potentially be that impact player. Obviously they’re hamstrung (past few matches) because of Faf not being fit and they had to use him as the impact player. Like most teams will now score 200+ and chase down as well or teams have gone close to those 200-run scores. That’s happened because of the impact player rule because the batters can go hard now. And similarly, from a bowling perspective, you can defend because you have the traditional option of using a spinner or a fast-bowler. But yes, teams have used the leg-spinner as well, like we’ve seen with Amit Mishra do it for LSG quite a few times.
On the next leadership option for Punjab Kings after Shikhar Dhawan
I don’t know the answer to that question but all I can tell you is Sam Curran has certainly done a very good job as a stop-gap captain in Shikhar (Dhawan’s) absence. I think he’s done a wonderful job. I think it’s a bit too early to even think of who could lead Punjab going forward.
On how difficult it will be for players to adjust from IPL to upcoming WTC final
Whether you’re a spinner, opening batter, a fast bowler, a spinner, everybody has to make that adjustment to play test cricket. So that these players are all used to, because they’re constantly shifting from one format to the other. It’s a mental adjustment that one needs to make and once you go there, you will have to get used to the conditions. The Oval is generally a good surface. It’s a nice, even surface, lot of runs but it all depends on the weather conditions during that period of time. We don’t even know how the English weather can be in June, early June, it can be bright and sunny, or it could be wet and and miserable. So we don’t know what kind of weather one will encounter.
On Piyush Chawla’s season so far with MI
(It is) Wonderful. Obviously, he’s brought all his experience of playing on different conditions. And he’s kept it very simple. That to me is the biggest strength of experienced spinners and you see that with Piyush as well. And he’s bowled really well. It’s not easy bowling at the Wankhede and he’s done exceptionally well there. For Mumbai Indians, he’s a lead spinner for them. And he’s taken that responsibility very well.