Those awesome blokes at Lord’s have thrown up this tasty comparison: Harbhajan versus Kumble.
Just hit the play button above to watch the video or indulge in it over at YouTube.
Harbhajan has over 400 Test wickets. Kumble has over 600.
Harbhajan took 25 x 5 wickets Test hauls. Kumble did it an amazing 35 times.
One was the first Indian to take a Test hat trick. The other, only the second man in history to take all 10 wickets in an innings.
One is the 2nd highest Test wicket taking off spinner. The other is the 2nd highest Test wicket taking leg spinner.
Both made Test centuries with the bat.
These are phenominal numbers.
Australians in particular will have a particular negative feeling towards Harbhajan. He is, of course, the central figure in MonkeyGate. The story of how Sachin Tendulkar perjured himself to protect his mate is now legendary. So is the way that Cricket Australia bumbled their approach and the flow on impact to Andrew Symons.
However, that animosity turned to pure joy when Harbhajan slapped Sreesanth in an IPL game in 2008.
He could also bowl.
In the history of cricket, there haven’t been too many consistent match winning off spinners. Murali is one (if you consider his action legal). Harbhajan also fits the bill. His aggression, although it got him into consistent trouble, was widely welcomed by his team mates for the energy it brought to the dressing room.
He dismissed Ricky Ponting 10 times in Tests. You can’t fault that.
Kumble was a different kettle of fish.
I recall watching him and thinking that batsmen should play him as a poor off spinner who now and then bowls a leg spinner. His stock delivery was the flighted top spinner. With his height, that became a very powerful weapon as the ball spat up at the batsmen or skidded though to hit the pads or stumps.
Perhaps, he was one of the only spinners in history to bowl a heavy ball?
The fact his Test career lasted 18 years is a massive credit to his ability as a bowler.
For perspective in regards to his on field achievements, he has more Test wickets and a better Test average than James Anderson.
Often forgotten is that he also took 337 ODI wickets.
So, who would I pick in this contest?
Although Kumble has the numbers, there is no way I can look past Harbhajan.
His aggression and ability to rile the opposition are intangibles that resonated with me. He was also that guy who would get the important wicket just as it was needed.
No disrespect to Kumble, but I’d bowl Harbhajan before him if I needed to turn a match.
What are your thoughts? Leave your comments below and let’s continue the debate.