Bangalore: Among all the words spoken in the aftermath of the Sydney Test between India and Australia in 2008, one of the most foul-spirited in recent history, the ones that carried the deepest resonance came from Anil Kumble. "Only one team was playing in the spirit of the game," he said, after India had been beaten by 122 runs in a match ruined by poor umpiring and worse behaviour. (Read: Questions raised over Kumble's agency)
They were not original words - they were a play on the famous line uttered by Bill Woodfull to describe England's strategy of targeting the ribcages of Australian batsmen during Bodyline - and it was unlikely Kumble could have imagined the weight they would carry when he spoke them at the post-match conference.
Though his team had been wronged more by the umpires, and the Australian fielders had been provocative, India had hardly been blameless. Harbhajan Singh was later charged - and subsequently let off, on account of lack of evidence - with having racially abused Andrew Symonds. But it was Kumble who walked tall out of the mess. His words felt powerful and moving because they were backed by his stature in world cricket.