The selectors will announce the Team India Test captain for the Test series against Pakistan and Australia — as well as the team for the rest of the Pakistan ODIs — sometime during todays’ India-Pakistan ODI at Mohali, Chandigarh.
Whether the decision will have any bearing on proceedings in the match itself remains to be seen.
After Sachin Tendulkar turned down the offer of captaining India, the selectors have a headache to contend with — a self-inflicted headache, if I may add. Anand Vasu, in a highly veiled article, speculates that not all is well with the relationship between senior players and the administration. Sachin Tendulkar, who appeared keen and set to resume duties as Test captain, appears to have done a volte-face within two weeks of his initial implicit acceptance decision. Anand Vasu speculates that something must have happened in the intervening two weeks that put him off his intent.
Enter the dark-horse, Anil Kumble!
If the selectors wanted to pass on the Test captaincy mantle to M. S. Dhoni, the current Team India T20 and ODI captain, they should have done that about 4 weeks ago. They did not and hence, signalled to M. S. Dhoni that they did not have confidence in him, yet! In my view, they missed the bus with Dhoni as captaincy candidate. Even if they do offer it to M. S. Dhoni today, would he accept it knowing that he did not have their full confidence? What if the selectors offered him the captaincy and he rejected it, saying he felt uncomfortable in the knowledge that he did not have their total confidence and did not, hence, wish to be a compromise-solution?
Given the tight corner they have painted themselves into — not surprising, given the personnel in charge — I would be surprised if the Indian selectors went with Dhoni as Test captain today.
This brings to focus either Anil Kumble, Sourav Ganguly or V. V. S. Laxman.
With Yuvraj Singh breathing down their necks for a spot in the team, Sourav Ganguly and V. V. S. Laxman could count themselves lucky if they found a spot in the XV, leave alone the Final Elven! So, I am not sure if the selectors will want to pick V. V. S. Laxman as captain or go back to Sourav Ganguly, although a tour of Australia with a more mature Ganguly as Team India captain is certainly a thought worth entertaining.
The selectors, with their backs pinned to the wall may, therefore, have to take the save-face-option in an impossible monster of a situation — a scenario of their own creation — by going for Anil Kumble as captain!
And this is not really a bad compromise, in my view. Many people in the know that I know still believe that, prior to the landmark home series against Australia in 2001, when Sourav Ganguly was made captain, Anil Kumble would have been the automatic choice. At the time, Kumble had not fully recovered from his shoulder injury and sat out the series against Australia — the series that saw the birth of Sourav Ganguly, the captain.
It is not a bad compromise because, having retired from the one-day game, Anil Kumble is not part of the ODI team. So, the clear dichotomy of responsibilities/leadership as well as the marking out of a Test-captaincy apprenticeship for M. S. Dhoni could be established in this manner.
And so, in my view, it is extremely likely that Kumble will be made team India captain!
It is often said that batsmen make better captains. Anil Kumble, after having scored his maiden Test century in England earlier this year — and the only Indian to score a century on that tour! — may well claim to be a batsman these days!
Sorry guys, I just have to see that century-making shot again. Here it is!
Just as he raised his bat on that occasion, when the ball was barely 10 ft away from his nose, Kumble has already preempted the tap on the shoulder and said, “I would certainly do the job if asked to. I don’t know whether I’m in the race, but if it’s offered it would be a great honour. I have relished it whenever I had the opportunity. But that’s not something for me to decide.”
- I’d be surprised if Rahul Dravid is not brought back into the ODI team with Sourav Ganguly being “rested”.
- If Anil Kumble is selected as Team India captain today, the team would have five India captains in it in Anil Kumble, Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid, Sourav Ganguly and M. S. Dhoni! Sigh!