India news October 15, 2014

Became captain by default - Kumble

ESPNcricinfo staff

Anil Kumble, the former India legspinner, has said he was picked to lead the Test team owing to a lack of other options. He had replaced Rahul Dravid at the helm in November 2007, when MS Dhoni was the ODI and T20 captain.

"I became captain after playing 17 years for India, so probably I became captain by default," Kumble told PTI. "Rahul Dravid had just relinquished the captaincy and, at that time, it was perhaps too early for MS Dhoni to step in as Test captain. Sachin [Tendulkar] also did not want it so they looked around and said, 'Okay Anil is the only guy and let's give it to him.'"

Kumble had played 118 Tests before he was given the captaincy. He led India for 14 Tests, winning three, losing five and drawing the remaining six. He began his tenure with a 1-0 series win over Pakistan and also led India to a memorable victory over Australia in Perth in 2008.

"I was in the 17th year of my career and I knew that I would not play for long. It was a transition and I'd have to handle a team of former captains and the one-day captain," he said.

Kumble's contribution was far more significant as as bowler. His 619 Test wickets is a record for India, but he said bowling was a difficult task.

"As a bowler you are not a hero, you are always backing a hero, but you need 20 wickets to win a Test match. In India you pick teams based on pitches, so it's the bowlers who get changed. If it is a turning pitch a fast bowler can't play, and if it is a green pitch, a spinner can't play.So you expect the batsmen to get accustomed or adapt to any kind of pitch whereas you don't expect bowlers to adapt to conditions."

Among the highlights of his career was during the Antigua Test in 2002 when he played on through a broken jaw. He was hit by Mervyn Dillon, spat out blood but batted on for another 20 minutes. Then he got through 14 overs and claimed the wicket of Brian Lara.

"Quite a few emotions were running through my head," said Kumble regarding the incident, "Because I was just coming back from a shoulder injury and I was just coming into the team. I played the first Test match and then I was dropped for the second. I was given opportunity in the fourth test match. I had not played two Test matches so this was like a make or break for me."