Anil Kumble reveals how he dismissed Brian Lara with a broken jaw in 2002

Anil Kumble
Kumble embodied the spirit of Indian cricket with his unflinching commitment
Ram Kumar

The sight of a fully bandaged Anil Kumble charging into bowl and trapping Brian Lara with a trademark quicker delivery is one of the most enduring sporting images in the modern era. After more than 14 years since that eventful day, the iconic cricketer has finally shared the secret behind his brave display.

In an interview to Wisden India, he reminisced on the events which transpired at St John’s Stadium in Antigua during India’s 2002 tour of West Indies. Now visiting the Caribbean as his country’s head coach, the stalwart revealed how he bounced back from a sickening blow to his jaw.

Kumble jested, “I got (Brian) Lara out. Probably because he looked at my bandaged face and didn’t really focus on watching the ball I bowled. Maybe, I scared him that way. Watch the video. Every time you hit pad in front, you appeal. It doesn’t matter whether you can open your mouth or not.”

He added, “Sure enough, there’s the Lara dismissal and also Carl Hooper sent back, only to be reprieved by a rare no-ball, fuelled possibly by a combination of adrenalin and pain-killers.”

Taking a cue from Sachin Tendulkar

With the five-match series precariously placed at 1-1, Kumble walked into bat and received a searing delivery from Merv Dillon. However, he spat out blood and stepped back onto the field gallantly.

The 45-year old felt, “It was banged in short and I lost it. It hit me on the jaw and I felt something was missing when I swirled my tongue around in my mouth. I felt something was wrong. Andrew Leipus (Physio) came to the middle and there was blood spewing all over the place. I asked him to take a look and he said my teeth were all in place, nothing missing.”

“I was then taken to the local hospital for an X-ray, and they had no facility to do an oral X-ray. They made me lie down and shot the X-ray film from where they could. And the image was so vague that it could barely capture the eye sockets, forget about a crack in the jaw.“

A call was made to dental expert and cricket fan Dr Raj Jamula who quipped, “On the left side of the jaw, there was a fracture. The two parts had separated and it was immediately clear they needed to be held together. Working with a colleague, I put in some wiring, trying to keep the two sides together.“

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When Kumble surprised him by asking if he was ready to have a bowl, Dr Jamula noted, “Honestly, I was a bit surprised by his reaction. As soon as I wired him up inside his mouth, something changed in his expression. He told me he didn’t feel pain anymore and funnily enough was standing up and rolling his arm over, trying to see whether he could bowl.”

During the next morning, ‘Jumbo’ could not keep himself out of the action after watching Sachin Tendulkar turn the ball viciously on the rough. Even though skipper Sourav Ganguly was reluctant, he strode into the arena to everyone’s disbelief.

What followed was nothing short of inspirational as Brian Lara and company were to find out. Despite the match ending in a draw, Kumble’s exploits had won over the West Indies players.

He affirmed, “I know Dillon (who delivered the knockout bouncer) came and spoke to me and so did others. But it’s all a bit of a blur. I don’t really remember that part.” Needless to say, it was not something that any cricket aficionado can forget.

Edited by Staff Editor


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