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A well-deserved honor for Kumble
by Gulu Ezekiel
Nov 10, 2007
Anil Kumble could well be considered the living embodiment of the phrase, “good things come to those who wait”.

It would be an exaggeration to say he has been waiting for the post of captaincy for 17 years, having made his international debut back in 1990. But he was candid enough to admit it had been on his mind for a few years now.

That Kumble should get the honour through default should not take away anything from the fact that he is well deserving of it. Furthermore, at a time when the role of Indian Test captain is rapidly becoming something of a poisoned chalice, it should come as something of a relief that there is at least one senior player in the team willing to take up the task.

The real reasons behind Rahul Dravid stepping down back in September may never be known, unless he decides to write a tell-all autobiography after retirement. It would surely be a bestseller in the mould of Duncan Fletcher’s recent release. From a personal point of view, it was probably a wise decision for Sachin Tendulkar to decline the offer. Having twice held the post and both times burnt his fingers thanks to the selectors, he has certainly learnt his lessons.

Sourav Ganguly has also let it be known privately that he does not want to take up the job again after losing it to Dravid two years back. Hardly surprising when you check his batting record in the last 18 months of his reign and the way he has come back so strongly this year, relieved of the burden.

Thus while Kumble was not the first choice—MS Dhoni was considered too inexperienced with only 20 Tests behind him—no one will grudge him the elevation.

Patience has always been a characteristic of Kumble. A spinner needs that it heaps. And imagine waiting 118 Tests for a maiden century!

He will certainly need plenty of patience and a thick skin too in dealing with the powers that be in Indian cricket. Already they have shown their true colors by appointing him only for the Pakistan home series. Who will lead India in Australia later this year is thus still up in the air and will no doubt lead to another bout of damaging speculation in the media. And having three former captains plus Dhoni in the side will present fresh challenges.

When he walks onto the Feroze Shah Kotla ground on November 22 for the first Test against Pakistan it will surely be an emotional time for Kumble.

Not only will he be captain for the first time (he has led once in an ODI) but it was also on this same ground and against the same opponents that he had his most magical moment—all 10 wickets in an innings back in 1999.

Kumble is a rare blend of intelligence and integrity. Even if it is for a brief stint, Indian cricket will be safe in the hands of the oldest man to be appointed captain.

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