New Delhi:The Indian and international cricket community on Sunday paid glowing tributes to Anil Kumble, calling him a great competitor, role model and a true fighter and his decision to retire as an end of an era.
Chief selector Krishnamachari Srikkanth summed up the reactions, saying he was an extraordinary cricketer and a role model not only for youngsters but also for future generations.
"He must have decided (to retire) during the course of the day. He spoke to me during tea time and said that he has decided to call it quits. It's the end of an era," he said.
"A lot of players in the team, I cannot tell you the names, were in tears when he told them his decision.
"It was an emotional moment for the team and me. He was an extraordinary cricketer, a great role model, not only for the youngsters but also for the future generations," Srikkanth said.
Former India captain Kapil Dev described Kumble as a "true gentleman" and a "true fighter".
"Anil Kumble is a true fighter, always had this never-say-die attitude and is thoroughly a true gentleman," Kapil said.
"He never got involved in any controversy and whatever he did he did it to the best of his abilities," he said adding that he is "great ambassador of cricket," he added.
Australian skipper Ricky Ponting lauded Kumble, saying that he was proud to have played against a celebrated opponent like him. "I would like to congratulate Anil for his long and successful career. He is a great competitor and every single player of my team, who has played against him, is proud of the cricketer," Ponting said after the third Test, which ended in a draw at the Ferozeshah Kotla ground here today.
"I wish he will enjoy his time after the game," Ponting added.
Meanwhile, Kapil rubbished suggestions that there was pressure on Kumble to quit.
"I think it is time when we talk about what he has done for the country. He played the game most professionally." On the void which will be created by Sourav Ganguly and Kumble's exit, Kapil said one will have to wait and see what the future has in store.
Legendary off-spinner EAS Prasanna described Kumble as one of the finest spinners that India produced.
"He is a thorough gentleman, very strong minded, man of integrity and one not to be influenced by external forces," Prasanna told PTI.
"I think he pre-poned his decision in view of his injury problem," the 68-year-old spinner said.
Former Australian captain Allan Border said the Kumble's decision has come as a shock to him and described it as a sad day for Indian cricket. "He is a fantastic a cricketer and a human being who played his game in the right spirit throughout his career. It is a sad day for Indian cricket. It actually came as a shock to us. We will have to wait and watch, how India copes up without Kumble," he said.
Echoing the sentiment, another ex-Aussie captain Ian Chappell said the void left by Kumble would be hard to fill.
"It is very difficult for somebody to get into his shoes. He is a cricketer who never compromised his dignity and always played with determination," he said.
Former Indian all-rounder Ravi Shastri felt the timing of Kumble's retirement is just perfect but the champion bowler would be missed.
"Kumble was a real, out and out professional. It is definitely a sad day for Indian cricket. You won't realise the impact of his retirement now but when you won't hear his name after some days, you will his void," he said.
"He decided to retire absolutely at the right time. A few days back I wrote in a column that you don't have to tell Kumble when to retire because being a true gentleman he knows when to take the call." "Kumble left the game with utmost respect. He showed his true sportsmanship in Australia," he added.
Legendary Indian spinner Bishan Singh Bedi also felt that Kumble timed his retirement well and said the whole of country would be proud of his contribution to the game. "I think the writing was in the wall. I could feel it was coming. It think he could have played the Nagpur Test but injury might have expedited his decision.
"Anyways, India is proud of you and I wish you happy retirement but I think although he has retired from International cricket, he has lots to offer in other aspects of the game," he said.
Ex-India stumper Syed Kirmani said Kumble has been an exceptional servant of the game.
"It is the right time for him to retire, the best time that Kumble would have looked for. He has done a great job for India and is leaving on a high," he said.
"He has made his debut under me in the state. He has been a dedicated, sincere, honest, disciplined and good thinking and a great champion cricketer and on the basis on these I can say that I have literally seen him grow and establish himself as a icon and a legendary cricketer both on the field and off it," he added.
Former pacer Madan Lal, who was part of the 1983 World Cup winning team, said he was surprised by Kumble's decision and did not expect him to retire in the middle of the ongoing Test series against Australia. "It has taken me by surprise. He could have played the Nagpur Test and could have gone after winning the series against Australia or even after the England series. It is a difficult decision for any player and he has taken it.
"Nobody is going to be his successor, no one can replace Kumble. He is one of the finest leg-spinners in the world. Over the years he had developed variety in his bowing by working hard. I rate him very high," Madan Lal said.
Lal, however, also refused to believe that it was pressure by media and the experts of the game that forced Kumble to quit.
"I do not think it was because of any sort of pressure. Media is going to be with you every time. If your play well they will praise you and they will criticise you if you play badly. And I think, Kumble has taken it well in his stride. At the end of the day he is a gentleman," he said.
Former Test cricketer and Yuvraj Singh's father Yograj Singh was also of the view that Kumble was not the one to take decision "under any kind of pressure".
Former skipper and national selector S Venkataraghavan was also of the view that Kumble timed his retirement to perfection and said he left the game with dignity.
"Kumble is the greatest spinner India has ever produced. He had led the country with aplomb and. He is such a great sportsman that he is hanging his boots without waiting for the management's call. It is inevitable that he had to retire now," he said.
"Even in his last Test, he showed his mental toughness and took the field with 11 stitches on the little finger of his left hand.
The former ICC elite panel umpire said that Kumble's dedication to the game was impeccable and it will be very hard for anyone to fill in his shoes.
"At no point of time, Kumble was found wanting either in fitness or performance during his 18-year-old illustrious career.
"Through out his career, he gave his 100 per cent and took pride in being an Indian cricketer. More than the players, Indian cricket will miss Kumble," Venkat said.