Spinner Kumble will be badly missed

Sunil Gavaskar believes the Indian bowling attack "will never be the same again" with the departure of Anil Kumble.

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DUBAI // Sunil Gavaskar believes the Indian bowling attack "will never be the same again" with the departure of Anil Kumble. Kumble announced his retirement from the game after the drawn third Test against Australia at the Kotla in Delhi, amassing 619 Test wickets and claiming 337 victims in one-day internationals. Calls for Kumble, 38, to quit were growing after an unimpressive series in Sri Lanka and a wicketless show in the first Test against Australia at Bangalore.

But the legspinner was defiant, saying that he would continue till he changed his mind after suffering a broken finger in the last Test. "I think he knew that the time had come," said Gavaskar, who was in Dubai along with Imran Khan and Ian Chappell this week. "He was getting injured far more often than earlier on. I also think he knew that he wasn't going to be playing the Nagpur Test because the injury was so bad that he wouldn't have been able to hold the bat or field.

"So I think he decided that it was the right time to go. He also took three wickets in the innings, the first time he had taken wickets in the series, and took that running catch despite the injured finger. He went on a high, India didn't lose the game. "The only anti-climax to the whole thing was that his last ball in Test cricket was driven for a boundary." No bowler in India cricket history has won more matches than Kumble and few in world cricket have been gutsier than him. He has bowled with aching bones, broken fingers and a fractured jaw.

"The Indian attack will never be the same again," added Gavaskar. "It is not going to be easy to replace somebody, who has taken over 600 Test wickets and over 300 in one-day internationals, and won so many matches. " His departure is going to leave a huge hole in the Indian team to fill. I know there have been talks in recent times that Kumble is not bowling as well as he did in the past, but that is to be expected.

"We can't bat and bowl in our 30s as we did in our teenage years or early 20s. "Kumble's departure is going to be a huge blow. "He will be missed, but the game goes on because it is greater than any individual. India will have to look for somebody who can come in and do half as well." arizvi@thenational.ae