Less than a fortnight ago, Anil Kumble was not sure if he was in the race for Test captaincy. But, Indian cricket being full of surprises — and just when everyone expected the mantle to go in favour of Dhoni after Tendulkar refused the offer — Dilip Vengsarkar and Co. gave it to the senior-most gentleman cricketer, Anil Kumble.
“It was not for me to judge,” Kumble told HT in a brief telephonic conversation on Sunday when told that he had emerged the race winner after not being sure if he was in the race. “People have shown that kind of faith in me and entrusted that responsibility to me. I am proud to lead the team.”
The 37-year-old Bangalorean becomes the first bowler captain since Kapil Dev held the reins in the 1980s. But that does not matter much to Kumble. “I don't think it (bowler-captain) should make any difference. It is just that in cricket there are different departments like batting and bowling. I am not sure whether it will bring a different perspective. But I will ensure that whatever experience I have gained over the years, I put it to use to get the right results.”
Captaincy is something that Kumble has always relished whenever given the opportunity — be it for India, as in the lone ODI in January 2002 against England in Chennai, or for Karnataka.
Named captain for the three Tests against Pakistan, Kumble is expected to continue that role on the tour of Australia. Of his immediate goals, he said: “That will be to ensure we do well against Pakistan. We have to start off well in Delhi.”
Kumble did not see any problems sharing the dressing room with Dhoni, the ODI captain and the man whom Tendulkar favoured to lead in the longer version also. “How does it matter? It is important that I complement him (Dhoni). It will be good to have his inputs. It is crucial to the team to have not just his inputs but also those of the others.”
There have been many captains that Kumble has admired over the years. “I don’t want to name anyone. There have been a lot of captains whom I have respected and valued for the way they have handled certain situations. I hope to use all that and ensure that they help me and the team.”
Asked how he’d handle a player like S. Sreesanth, who has often crossed the line by showing his emotions, Kumble said: “I should not have a problem with that.”