The first thing that strikes one about Anil Kumble is a certain calmness, a reassuring way that marks the man. And when you watch him at work, you realise that he is a highly knowledgeable practitioner of the game of cricket who backs his skills with hard work and a sharp focus on team goals. Last week, when he led an Indian Test cricket team for the first time—after 17 years and 118 Tests—many wondered why a possibility as obvious as Kumble leading the Test team had not occured to anyone.
Two men answering to the names of John Wright and Greg Chappell would have both broken into smiles when they heard that the Indian selectors had finally named Kumble captain. He had served a term or two as vice-captain of the team in the late '90s, but was never given an opportunity to put his leadership skills on display beyond a single ODI. He had shown initiative and an ability to organise colleagues around clear goals when negotiating player contracts with the BCCI—that was his sole shot at helmsmanship. It needed him to put up his hand and let it be known that he was available for the captain's role before the powers that be took notice.