Anil Kumble's arrival in Surrey for the second half of their county season has made the club take some tough decisions. Perched right on top of the Championship tables in Division Two, Surrey have already got two performing spinners, Nayan Doshi — left-armer and son of former India Test spinner Dilip Doshi — and ex-England leg-spinner Ian Salisbury.
The two have taken 70 wickets between them so far. "…The other tough decision for Surrey came up when Anil Kumble arrived and we left out Doshi, our second highest wicket-taker this year," Surrey's senior batsman and former England cap Mark Ramprakash wrote in his weekly column in a London paper.
Kumble, setting his sights on 600 Test wickets and one of the main architects of India's first series win in the Caribbean in 35 years, said that it was not a matter of concern.
In an exclusive interview to HT on Tuesday, a day after taking being instrumental in getting his new county to the Twenty20 final, the 35-year-old, the only other bowler after England’s Jim Laker to take 10 wickets in an innings, said there could be a unique phenomenon in English county cricket that saw three spinners in a match.
How much of a challenge do you see in helping Surrey gain
It is a very good challenge. Surrey are a very good side and are right on top of the table (163 points from 10 matches, 29 points ahead of second-placed Worcestershire). We need to keep that going and it would be nice to play a part in getting Surrey promoted.
I have played against Ramprakash and a few others as well. It is good to be a part of the group and always nice to catch up with players and playing in different conditions.
It was not a memorable first two days for Surrey last week, was it?
You can see the scores. Justin Langer had broken Richards’ record for Somerset by scoring 342. I have played enough to understand that, on a flat wicket, you have to accept the conditions and can do little about it.
Surrey has said that to accommodate you, they have to sideline one of their two highly talented spinners (Nayan Doshi and Ian Salisbury). How do you react?
I think Surrey need not sideline any other spinner to accommodate me in the Eleven. In fact, we played three spinners (Doshi and Salisbury besides Kumble) in Monday's Twenty20 match (Kumble took two for 20 in 3.5 overs against Gloucestershire to guide his team into the final).
No other team would ever do that. We need not sideline anybody and I am sure in the next few matches, possible all the three spinners would be playing. It is a unique thing in English county to be playing three spinners.
As you don't figure in ODIs these days and there are long gaps between Test series, how do you keep going so as to be able to return and bowl marathon spells in Tests?
I got used to it over a period of time. I have been playing continuously for a decade-and-a-half to know what to do. It is not really like that. I just try to keep my body fresh.
Chairman of selectors Kiran More, after the selection committee meeting last week, said that he has some plans for you in ODIs and has had a dialogue with you…
We have to wait and see.
Soon after India’s series win in the West Indies, former off-spinner EAS Prasanna said, 'Kumble is like wine, the older it gets, the wine tastes better'...
It is all nice things to say and hear. That's all I can say at the moment. Three years ago, it was not the same. They said that I was getting old and lacked bounce. It doesn't really matter what people say. They change over a period of time. I am not someone to react to others' statements.
With England celebrating 50 years of Jim Laker's unrivalled feat of 19 wickets for 90 in Tests, how do you reflect on this? Can the feat be matched?
It is amazing that somebody could take 19 wickets in a Test match. I don't think that will happen again. It is very difficult to do something like that.
Would you be participating in the celebrations as you are the only one after Laker to take a Perfect 10?
I have to wait and see how it goes. They (England and Wales Cricket Board) are planning some spinners’ conference in late September. I might possibly get involved in that but am not sure about it.