Kumble's selection a smart act: Cullinan

Updated on Nov 21, 2006 07:06 PM IST

The ex-Test player says the Indian spinner has a lot of variations to be palmy on any track.

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None | ByPress Trust of India, Durban

Describing Anil Kumble's inclusion in the Indian cricket team for the tour of South Africa as a "smart act", former Test cricketer Darryl Cullinan on Tuesday said the ace leg spinner could be a big threat for the home team during the current series.

Cullinan rated Kumble alongside Australian great Shane Warne and said the Indian spinner had a lot of variations to be successful on any track.

"If Kumble is at the top of his game, with the ball angling in at the leg-stump, it is more difficult to get him away. He bowls at a quicker pace as well," Cullinan said.

"I think his selection has been a pretty smart act, particularly in South Africa. He is not a big turner of the ball, has subtle variations and is very patient.

"If he is bowling well, then he is going to be very difficult against the South Africans," Cullinan said.

The former middle order batsman, who amassed 4554 runs at an average of 44.21 from 70 Tests with 14 hundreds, felt that googly, recently termed as one of Kumble's main weapon, was one of the easiest balls to pick.

"To me, at least, his googly was easy to pick up. He does not complete his action and he never drops his hand completely down. He does half the action and it comes over.

"In the normal delivery, his right hand comes right down to his right knee. When he bowls the googly, the hand does not drop to the knee, it comes under the armpit. Also his small finger would come off the ball, it was a big giveaway," he said.

"They really needed somebody to keep it together for India in the middle overs. The task for India would be to keep him fit at 36.

"The big thing that favours him is that his reputation precedes him. He is genuinely one of the nicest guys in the circuit," he said.

Listing Kumble's shortcomings, Cullinan said: "He is not one of the worst batsmen, but the area which makes him vulnerable is fielding. You need boundary-riders in one-day cricket. Kumble and a few other players on the boundary are going to come under pressure in South Africa. It could cost team 15-20 runs."

Moving over to his old rival Shane Warne's bowling style, Cullinan said, during the Ashes battle against Australia, England batsmen should sweep the leggie in order to prevent him from making any inroads.

"If I could do it all over again, I would probably have swept him more," said Cullinan, who was known as "Warne's bunny".

Being the victim of Warne four times in seven Tests against Australia, Cullinan now knows best how to handle the big turner.

"My reputation (as Warne's bunny) was completely Justified in Test cricket. Frankly he was too good for me in Tests. It was at a time when he was at the top of his game and he stitched up better players than me," said Cullinan.

"He spins big, is a good competitor and tries to get under the batsmen's skin and make them feel they are not worth their place in the team. But too much has been made in media on his gamesmanship," Cullinan said.

Cullinan said Warne had chosen to concentrate on Test cricket only to gratify his own desires as a player.

"There is no doubt that Warne is good enough to play (one-dayers). Looking at Champions Trophy and all, he would have played a massive role. But I guess he knows where his preference lies. At some stage of your life, it's just not playing, it's practicing and all."

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