Mar 25, 2008 at 11:07pm IST

Kumble thanks Azhar, Leipus for his 600-wicket feat

Chennai: Test captain Anil Kumble on Tuesday said Indian cricket was undergoing a major transition with the advent of Twenty20 format and advised youngsters to focus on "sustained intensity" to create a niche for themselves.

"Indian cricket is in a period of transition with launch of Twenty20. It is helping to develop good sides but sustained intensity is required. Many of these (young) players should acquire exposure to international cricket," Kumble said at the felicitation ceremony organised by the Board of Control for Cricket In India (BCCI) for his feat of 600 wickets.

"I have witnessed change in cricket itself during the past few years. With the perception of cricket to the next generation, I believe enjoying mental and physical fitness will be the main component," he said.

THE TROPHY: The BCCI on Tuesday honoured Anil Kumble on reaching the landmark of 600 Test wickets.

Kumble took the opportunity to thank all those who had a direct or indirect contribution in his success but singled out former physio Adrian Leipus for his assistance in 2001.

"This memory of 600 wickets I will cherish as a memory for long long time. I thank Andrew Leipus, who had helped me to come back to cricket after a shoulder injury in 2001. But for him I would not have been able to play at this level," Kumble said.

"I thank my first Test captain Mohd Azharuddin and my first coach Bishen Singh Bedi. I have played with many wicketkeepers and now with Dhoni. He has been giving lot of inputs on the field. I thank Rahul Dravid and Azhar for having taken most number of catches from my bowling... My various discussions with Chandrasekar on unorthadox bowling had helped me. My friendship with Shane Warne and Muttiah Muralitharan have been warm and we always comment each others bowling," he said.

Kumble expressed his gratitude to BCCI President Sharad Pawar for standing by the team when the racism controversy was at its peak.

"I thank the selection committee and Mr Pawar for backing us when we were faced with problems in Australia. I have held a healthy relationship with the media and I acknowledgment the fair treatment extended to me by them."

Pawar lavished praise on Kumble and said he wondered why the leg-spinner was never appointed captain earlier in his career.

"Today is an exceptional day, a golden opportunity to the Board to honour one of India's outstanding cricketer of the country," Pawar said.

"Making his debut against Manchester in England, Anil has been serving Indian cricket with devotion. Off the field, he is an unassuming person and a determined person on the field. I wish the younger generation watches lot of cricket on television and learn more from people like Kumble."

"I wonder why Kumble was not considered for captaincy much earlier. I wish to compliment him on behalf of the Board and cricket lovers of the country," Pawar said.

Kumble had claimed his 600th wicket in the third Test against Australia, which India won at Perth in mid-January this year. He dismissed Andrew Symonds in the first innings by having him caught by Rahul Dravid at slips.

Earlier, clippings of Kumble's prize wickets amongst his tally of 604 so far and former captain Kapil Dev and the Bangalorean standing together with their trophies for surpassing 400 wickets, were screened for the invitees.

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