Friday, 9 November 2007

Dhoni's time will come, but Kumble is the right man for now

At 37, Anil Kumble could appear a slightly regressive choice as the new Indian Test skipper. But after 118 Tests, no one could dispute the fact he has earned his chance. Mahendra Singh Dhoni has started impressively as limited-overs skipper, but he is 11 years Kumble's junior; there need not be any rush to award him with the top job.

Kumble has taken 566 Test wickets, an extraordinary feat. Yet his number of Test hundreds - one, in his 118th Test - is almost more revealing. For it illustrates his fierce pride and relentless desire to improve his game. If he can imbue this into his younger team-mates, then there is every reason to believe India can build on their impressive series win in England. Their next two series, at home to Pakistan and away to Australia, will be nothing if not arduous. Kumble will need all the cricketing experience and nous he possesses, along with an egalitarian temperament - for, at some time over these seven Tests, undoubtedly, India will be faced with a real struggle. Equally, his appointment offers a clear signal that, in the longer format of the game, the older guard are still very much required.

For the first time, India will embark on life with separate captains. While this could cause friction between the two skippers, there is surely too much mutual respect between Kumble and Dhoni for this to occur. India are right to utilise the vast skills of Anil Kumble - a thinking cricketer and the consummate professional - as they approach two high-octane series.

No comments: