New Delhi, Nov 2 (UNI) As an era came to end with the announcement of Anil Kumble's retirement, the cricketing fraternity today paid rich tributes to his 18-year-long career, tagging him as a great role model and a true fighter.
An emotional chief selector Krishnamachari Srikkanth said Kumble will be a role model for generations to come.
''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.
Kumble, who announced his retirement in the third Test today stunned the local crowd even though it being thought that the retirement was round the corner.
Former Indian 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.
Kapil also dismissed claims that the retirement was a forced one and the leg-spinner was under no pressure to pave way for the youngsters.
''I think it is time when we talk about what he has done for the country. He played the game most professionally,'' he added.
Meanwhile, legendary off-spinner EAS Prasanna described Kumble as a 'thorough gentleman' and one of the finest spinners that India has ever produced.
''He is a thorough gentleman, very strong minded, man of integrity and one not to be influenced by external forces,'' Prasanna said adding, ''I think he pre-poned his decision in view of his injury problem.'' Former Australian captain Allan Border expressed shock over Kumble's decision and said it would be a sad day in 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.
Another former Australian captain Ian Chappell said Kumble has left a huge void to fill in the Indian team with his retirement.
''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, who was also present here when the announcement of Kumble's retirement came, said the decision came at a perfect time and but added that the champion bowler, who has 619 wickets to his name, will always be missed in the cricket vicinity.
''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,'' he added.
He went on to say that Kumble left the game with utmost respect.
and ''showed his true sportsmanship in Australia,'' he added.
Echoing the words of Shastri, former Indian captain Bishan Singh Bedi also felt that Kumble timed his retirement well and said the whole 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 added.
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