Friday, November 09, 2007

Cap'n Jumbo

So Anil Kumble is the new captain of the Indian test team. For what its worth, I had suggested earlier on this blog that this be the call made by the selectors. The two worries I expressed in that post still hold true: that Kumble will bowl himself a bit too much, and that his on-field hectoring of players will turn some players off comprehensively. Kumble has been viewed by many of India's captains in the past as being the only strike bowler (most disappointingly at Sydney in the 2003-2004 series, when some imaginative bowling changes might have helped India pick up more wickets); it would be a surprise if this view has not been internalized by Kumble himself. But its a view he'll have to change if he is to nurture India's budding pace attack. And Kumble will need to change his constant yelling and scowling at fielders that don't come up to his standards. Those sorts of reprimands work in the dressing room, not out on the field. I've always found this to be least likeable part of his personality, especially when its pretty clear that Kumble isn't a great fielder himself - some humility would go a long way here. It might surprise some people, but for me this remains the biggest worry: that Kumble's authoritarian streak will be a divisive factor.

But for all of that, Kumble has a good cricketing brain, and he fights hard, qualities which should stand him in good stead against both Pakistan and Australia (the selectors in their infinite wisdom have decided to make Kumble for just one series). Dhoni might yet become test captain of India down the line, and this would have been a good baptism by fire for him, but its not the worst thing in the world that he acquire some more experience before taking over. Kumble will be leading a team that will include three former test captains: Dravid, Tendulkar and Ganguly, and Dhoni, the current ODI captain. There'll be plenty of advice handed out on the field, but Kumble should be able to deal with it all. Good luck with it all.

Oh, and by the way, I found Sanjay Manjrekar's suggestion (made twice) that Kumble be made captain as a "gift" or a "reward" for his service to the Indian team over the years, completely ludicrous. This is the test captaincy, not a Lifetime Achievement Award.

4 Comments:

Anonymous Ottayan said...

Kumble is essentially a captain by default.

Dhoni has been judged inexperienced, while the 'chosen one' chickened out.

So one can view it as only an honour or a reward.

Lets us hope his tenure passes by without any lasting damage.

11:22 AM  
Blogger Soulberry said...

There wouldn't be enough time to judge if that streak really matters. I have never seen him captain in the domestic competitions, so... wonder how his mates responded there?

3:40 PM  
Blogger Samir Chopra said...

Ottayan: If Dhoni has been judged inexperienced, then Kumble isn't really captain by default: Dhoni has been judged to have an essential attribute missing. I have a feeling he'll do OK.

Soulberry: Interesting question - I've never read any takes on his captaincy in the domestic comps. I've a feeling he commands a fair amount of respect from the big Three in the national team, so he'll do OK in that regard. He's just got to nurture the youngsters well.

12:29 AM  
Blogger Shan said...

Totally retrograde step. If Dhoni wasn't ready and Sachin wasn't willing, it should have gone to Saurav, with the experience behind him.

What has happened is a combination of the "default" logic and the "reward" fact.

I'm afraid Kumble's limitations as a leader of men will be cruelly exposed in Australia and he will end his career under a cloud.

8:31 AM  

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