The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Anil Kumble ends year as No. 1
- Test Cricket In 2004
- Warne and Harmison are unable to even draw level with India's star leggie

Calcutta: Three days after Team India vice-captain Rahul Dravid emerged the highest run-getter for the year in ODIs, Anil Kumble (74 wickets) has finished as Test cricket's No. 1 bowler in 2004.

It's the perfect end to a great year ' actually, never before has the 34-year-old leggie ever struck it so rich.

Kumble, in fact, opened up a big lead over closest 'rivals' Shane Warne and Steve Harmison by the end of the Chittagong Test, last week, and neither could even draw level.

On Wednesday, Warne finished with 70, while Harmison needed all ten South African wickets in the second innings at Kingsmead to overtake Kumble.

Matthew Hoggard, though, made that impossible by dismissing home captain Graeme Smith before stumps on Wednesday. To at least draw level, then, Harmison required the remaining nine wickets on Thursday.

However, if Hoggard was the 'spoiler' on the fourth evening, Andrew Flintoff slipped into that role on the fifth morning of the last Test in 2004: By claiming Nicky Boje, he ensured Kumble wouldn't even have to share the year's honours.

Harmison eventually ended with 67 wickets (only two, by the way, came in the second innings), to finish at No.3

Kumble wasn't available for a comment till late on Thursday, but he was quite excited about possibly ending 2004 as the most successful when The Telegraph spoke to him on his way back from Bangladesh.

India's highest wicket-taker began the year with 12 wickets in the Sydney Test and followed with 15 versus Pakistan in Pakistan, 27 against Australia (in India), 10 versus South Africa (again, at home) and just as many in the two Tests against Bangladesh.

Incidentally, Kumble rates his SCG performance as being among the best in 2004. The others are: Those 15 wickets in the three-Test series in Pakistan and the 13 he got at the Chepauk, versus Australia, in mid-October.

Meanwhile, captain Sourav Ganguly has lauded Kumble. Speaking exclusively at his residence here, he said: 'It's a reward for the outstanding manner in which Anil has bowled over the past 12 months' I'm very happy for him as also Rahul.'

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