Anil Kumble has joined the Star Cricket team’s commentary team for the Twenty20 World Cup. Thoughts?
I always found the ex-Indian spinner surprisingly articulate during his international career, though his deep, deep voice made him sound like a mumbler (albeit a smart one). That’s part of my problem with Kumble’s stuff so far: he’s not nearly as emotional as he needs to be and his voice doesn’t display much range. As a beginner, he’s also understandably too cautious; he should realize that TV commentators aren’t radio commentators. They can have some fun outside describing onfield play.
Still, he has some things going for him: first, he clearly knows the game, and secondly, his reputation precedes him. You’ll listen to him because he’s Anil Kumble and you’re not, end of discussion. During India’s game against Ireland, for instance, Nasser Hussain asked Kumble why Pragyan Ohja’s spin was so effective. Kumble gave a fairly good response: sure, he doesn’t spin it that much, Kumble said, but he has a nice trajectory; he’s slow through the air; his action — which puts his body behind the ball — allows him to get more bounce than batsmen expect.
Solid stuff. But is Kumble jumping onto the commentary bandwagon too soon? He can’t really opine about players because, um, he knows them, and they know him. It’s one thing if Ravi Shastri talked smack about Munaf Patel’s body language or Ian Chappell basically let every current player know he’s smarter than they’ll ever be, but Kumble just can’t do that, not least because he’s a diplomatic guy. How’s this for a hypothesis: what makes you a good cricket captain doesn’t make you all that great a commentator.