The timing of assuming captaincy for the first time is critical. The circumstances and the reasons for which the player is made captain remain equally important.
Somehow, the rationale behind the change in captaincy in Indian cricket is far from ideal. I can recall my cricketing days when K Srikkanth lost his captaincy to Azharuddin for not participating in Duleep Trophy games.
Subsequently, Azhar was forced to step down to crown a very young and inexperienced Sachin Tendulkar. It was a game of musical chairs in 2000 when Sachin decided to quit captaincy, leaving the selectors to pick Sourav Ganguly. Rahul Dravid was made captain when Sourav was struggling. And now we see Anil Kumble leading the Test side.
Let's take a look at some better value practice in mature surroundings. Recently, England skipper Michael Vaughan bid adieu to make way for Kevin Pietersen. Paul Collingwood too relinquished ODI leadership. Nasser Hussain and Michael Atherton had quit on their own terms.
In many cases, the incumbent captain has suggested or even named his successor. From Mark Taylor and Steve Waugh to Ricky Pointing, they have followed dignified transitions in Australia. The practice in England and Australia is such that the new captain assumes his role in a conducive environment. I sometimes wonder why such acts of value progression are difficult for our captains to follow.
It appears that the selectors have stumbled upon M.S. Dhoni to hand him the mantle of leadership. Fortunately, Dhoni's captaincy has not only come at the right time but also for the right reasons.
To be true to his leadership characteristic, he took a break from the Test series in Sri Lanka. His decision needs to be applauded. Dhoni's decision shows conviction in his ability to come back. This act is seldom practiced by Indian greats.