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Longer tenure for Anil Kumble

A top BCCI source said Kumble's appointment should not be seen as a "stop-gap arrangement" as the selectors have a long-term plan for him.

cricket Updated: Nov 10, 2007 20:33 IST

The national selectors, who sprung a surprise by naming Anil Kumble as India's new Test captain for the upcoming three-match series against Pakistan, will extend his tenure after assessing his performance as a leader in the high-voltage cricket series.

The selectors, who deliberated at length during a marathon meeting in Mohali on Friday before handing the reins of the Test captaincy to Kumble, were of the view that the 37-year-old leg spinner should be given a longer tenure to prove his worth.

Although Kumble's appointment is only for the Test series against Pakistan, chief selector Dilip Vengsarkar and his colleagues were in favour of continuing with the Karnataka stalwart for the four Tests against Australia in December-January.

A top BCCI source said Kumble's appointment should not be seen as a "stop-gap arrangement" as the selectors have a long-term plan for him.

"If they have appointed him for just one series, it is only because they want to have a good look at him. He has vast experience and has captained his state team, so captaincy should not be a problem for him," the source said.

It is Kumble's experience which ultimately tilted the balance in his favour ahead of Mahendra Singh Dhoni who was widely tipped to get the job, the source said.

"The selectors did not wish to put Dhoni under additional pressure by giving him the Test captaincy at this stage. Wicket-keeping in Test cricket is a hard job and the captaincy would have certainly put him under a lot of strain", the source said.

There were a few selectors who were in favour of Dhoni, who is the current ODI and Twenty20 captain, being given the mantle of the Test captaincy as well considering the future of Indian cricket.

They even cited the example of Pakistan who have named a young captain in Shoaib Malik for both Tests and one-dayers despite a number of senior players in their ranks.

In the end, it was felt that splitting the captaincy was the best option under the circumstances, the source said, adding that Dhoni and Kumble were the two names which were mainly considered.

The comments of a number of former Indian cricketers and also that of former coach Greg Chappell, who felt that giving the Test captaincy to Dhoni would be asking for too much from the youngster, did have a bearing on the selectors.

Kumble, the third Indian spinner to be the captain after Bishen Singh Bedi and S Venkatraghavan, came into the picture only because Sachin Tendulkar, who was tipped to be the skipper, turned down the offer and suggested that "a youngster" be given the reins of the side.

With Tendulkar out of the equation, the 26-year-old Dhoni was projected as the front-runner for the job which has been lying vacant for nearly seven weeks since Rahul Dravid stepped down from the post after a successful tour of England.

The selectors made the formal announcement of the new captain close to midnight on Friday and the source said it was because the selectors wanted to have a "talk" with Dhoni on the team for the next two one-dayers against Pakistan.

First Published: Nov 10, 2007 20:24 IST