Former India captain Anil Kumble recently opined that the Ranji Trophy triumph in 1995 was instrumental in taking Karnataka cricket to greater heights. He mentioned that the win acted as a shot in the arm, and enab many cricketers from the state to go on and represent the Indian team.
Anil Kumble talked about the steady growth of Karnataka cricket from the 1990s onwards in a freewheeling chat with Ravichandran Ashwin on the latter's YouTube show 'DRS With Ash'.
Ashwin asked Anil Kumble if the Karnataka team winning the Ranji Trophy led to as many as 9 state players representing the Indian team at the time, or if it was the other way round.
Anil Kumble responded that the knowledge that was imparted to them by the previous generation stalwarts of Karnataka cricket including Gundappa Viswanath, Bhagwat Chandrasekhar, Erapalli Prasanna, Syed Kirmani and Roger Binny had gone a long way in producing quality cricketers from the state in the 1990s.
"I think the interactions we have had with the senior group of players in Karnataka, and the passing of generations is very, very unique. The interactions that I had when I first came into the team with GR Viswanath, BS Chandrasekhar, EAS Prasanna, Syed Kirmani, all these guys, while we were practising for Karnataka, would come."
"Roger Binny was the first captain when I made my debut for Karnataka. So to have all of these senior players with you, and learning from them. And you could see that they genuinely wanted to help you. And they would come forward and tell you, look, this is where you need help. Those little interactions certainly helped."
Anil Kumble credited these interactions between the senior players and the youngsters for the growth of Karnataka cricket.
"That to me has been the biggest factor for Karnataka during the 90s and early 2000s to produce so many players, coming through from that system. Because I think the interactions that we had with the senior players, who represented the country, and the junior players was immense."
Anil Kumble on Karnataka's 1995 Ranji Trophy triumph
Anil Kumble acknowledged that the 1995 Ranji Trophy triumph was the biggest achievement for him, having led Karnataka to a win over their arch-rivals Tamil Nadu at Chennai.
"The 1995 win was obviously the biggest thing for me. Because I was the captain of the team and we beat Tamil Nadu in Chennai. That was the first time when we won the Ranji Trophy, during our times."
Ashwin was quick to ask if the greater joy was in winning the Ranji Trophy or beating Tamil Nadu. Anil Kumble responded it was surely winning the premier domestic tournament as that was their only goal.
"Winning Ranji Trophy. Because for us, playing for Karnataka the first hurdle was to win the trophy. And for all of us, it was great thing to lift the trophy and be a part of the winning side. Because it was quite a while since Karnataka had won the Ranji Trophy."
Anil Kumble reminisced about the hot and humid conditions at Chepauk during that time of the year, with everyone drenched in sweat even during a pre-match photoshoot.
"1984 was the previous time that we had won the trophy. So, a 11-year gap, and coming in and playing in Chennai in April. You can imagine the old Chepauk Stadium in April. We went for a photograph before the start of the game and we had to change everything including the socks. Because it was all wet and that was the kind of humidity we had at that time."
Anil Kumble admitted that the Karnataka team was lucky to win the toss which aided them in realising their dreams. The leg-spinner labelled that title triumph as the biggest turning point for Karnataka cricket, since it helped the state cricketers to go on and wear the national colours.
"And we were fortunate that we won the toss. If you win the toss, I think half the battle is won. So we put up a good score, we won the match, and that to me was the biggest turning point. Because from then on, we saw a lot of Karnataka cricketers doing well and coming into the Indian side.
Karnataka won the 1995 Ranji Trophy final based on the 1st innings lead. They piled on a mammoth score of 620/8 declared and dismissed Tamil Nadu for 370 runs to seal the win.
Vijay Bharadwaj and Rahul Dravid scored centuries in Karnataka's first innings, with Anil Kumble grabbing 5 wickets with the ball.
Post the win, a host of Karnataka cricketers went on to represent India at the international level including Anil Kumble, Javagal Srinath, Rahul Dravid, Venkatesh Prasad, Sunil Joshi, Vijay Bharadwaj, Dodda Ganesh, David Johnson and Sujith Somasunder.