Jumbo Combo and Typical South Indian !!!

Anil Kumble is the Indian Test Captain (at least for the Pakistan Series).

Thats a stale news and the amount of fanfare exhibited by the Board in announcing this was so low that I had decided not spend either precious blog space or my time on writing anything about it. But Kumble’s interview yesterday with Nishant Arora set me thinking. Because what I heard was not normal, was not very typical of an Indian Cricket Captain, was not very Cricketer like. Thinking back I cannot recollect when did we actually find any of our captains sound so Cerebral, Composed and Intellectual. I know I know its futile, or point blank foolish to do this oft repeated exercise of comparing skippers, yet I ended up doing for just what I heard. I also know that my pre conceived judgements may fall flat on its face if he gets it wrong at Kotla but somehow for the moment I am willing to take the risk and bask in the impressed feeling that I was enveloped with post that chat. Here are some excerpts:

Nishant Arora: And a bowler becoming a captain. How does that sound in India?

Anil Kumble: At the end of it, it’s the bowlers who win your Test match. You have to pick up 20 wickets. It does not matter how many runs you score on the board so it will be a bit different that’s probably where my experience as a bowler will help somebody like Dhoni to get a bowler’s perspective of the game. It will be a bit more positive.

Nishant Arora: It is a very interesting time in Indian cricket when we can say that past is merging into future and you will be standing at the mid-point of that ransition. How do you see your role there as someone, who not only has to lead the side but also ensure that when he gives the baton he gives it to the right person?

Anil Kumble: It is a challenge and I think that the transition definitely will be smooth. Again I haven’t had the chance to speak with any of the selectors or the board officials so I still have to wait for that. It is too early to say about all that. It is important to me that whenever it happens, it is a smooth transition for me.

Nothing earth shattering there. Neither do we find some yet-to-be-unravelled-captaincy-nuggets, in those talks. They are very professional comments (something that the Bangaloreans are very good at). But its the way, those thoughts came out, that they were reeking of sincerity and statesmanly intentions. Somewhere you get the feeling “In my last leg of my career here’s my chance to do something to see that the Transition to the new gen is pucca !!!”.

We all know Test match is a bowler’s game and in pointing that out there’s no big shake yet to point out that in his apprenticeship days this will be a great learning opportunity for Dhoni to hone is understanding from a bowler’s perspective is a fresh thought. Whats impressive is the thought or mental make up that he is not just the captain but a facilitator too to upscale Dhoni to be Indian Skipper for a long time to come. I dont think I heard that part of his job description when the selectors announced his name for the post. I presume (and I think thats correct), that this is Kumble’s own thought…for the fact that he is quite capable of such thought.

Its not easy to be given a job with Transition being an agenda round the corner. I do understand the Ravi Shastri’s much publicised press conference stating Dhoni needs more time to hone up as an accomplished test player (let alone being captain), acted on the minds of the selectors and they did not have the guts to go against a man who is fast becoming one of the most influential figures in the annals of Indian Cricket. So Kumble’s decision was just a distant alternative (read stop gap….while I still fail to understand what happenned to Sourav Dada Ganguly in all this mess). Yet the way Kumble has interpreted his opportunity speaks volumes of the man’s intellect and personality. That fact that he has patience …loads of it…is not alien to us. We have seen him taking each and every one of those 565 wickets with lots of guile and tons of patience. Here too he has showed that while waiting in the wings he has developed all that is needed for donning the most coveted job of Indian Cricket and one of the most challenging jobs in the world.

If there was any time that his team mates (especially 3 of the past captains – Sachin, Sourav Rahul) can pay him back for his selfless escapades under their respective tenures, then this is the time. They should go out there and give him piles of runs, so that he can then join hands with his old buddy Venky Prasad and get down to what he does best, polish the opposition.

One thing that Kumble will never fall short of in that dressing room, that is respect. He has earned it. With his bowling and of course with his recent heroics with the bat to emerge as the sole centurion in the entire English tour, he has shown everyone that one thing he is master at …that is his ability to apply himself and be at till someone forcefully pulls him off. I think some of our so called greats should have borrowed those lessons long back, however, nothings lost if they can borrow that leaf now …especially before a round the corner tour down under – where its always the case of “Survival of the best Application”.

So, Over to you Jumbo !!!! All the best for a smooth transition and a good stint as a captain !!!

Towards the end of that interview something caught my attention …read it …

Nishant Arora: I’m sure you must be a great father. What kind of goals have you set for your children?
Anil Kumble: I think, like a typical south Indian, education is very important. It’s too early for me to say anything. I don’t whether my son will become a cricketer or not. It’s just that all of them are doing well in their studies. I would like to see and support
them in whatever they do.

The Phrase that made me smile was the tongue in cheek admission “Typical South Indian” value of EDUCATION first. And that set me thinking. In fact I had this prolonged conversation with my better half on this, and in due course realised that its not so bad..this education factor (the the Typical south indian obsession for it). If you see closely Anil Kumble and his exploits (he has plotted some of the most number of dismissals on difficult tracks, and designed the first complete Cricket Software which nowadays is used by all Cricketing nations, an engineer by qualification), Venkatesh Prasad (Player of good repute, Certified Level II Coach, Bowling Coach India, Engineer by Qualification), Javagal Srinath (Great Bowler, First and only International Match Referee, Comentator, Engineer by Qualification)…am sure there are more..but this trinity come ot my mind. Somewhere if you look at their personal lives too you will find they have lived their lives on their own terms and have been a bit offbeat yet happy.

It doesnt harm ..this education bit. Because it brings some of the most precious traits to the human behaviour – Modesty, Cerebral Thinking, Intellect, Level-headed(ness), patience – to name a few. I don’t smell money too much when we see and listen to them. But they are successful and how !!! Maybe a pointer to many parents that its good to have that typical south indian value of education first yet pursuing the career of your choice. It does count somewhere in life !!!

So lets fasten our seat belts as its Jumbo territory ahead …. and this Jumbo thinks !!!! Thats a Jumbo Combo !!!


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