Kumble must lead India on Australia tour: Azharuddin

By Qaiser Mohammad Ali

Kolkata (IANS) : It will be “very unfair” if Anil Kumble, now leading India against Pakistan, is not appointed captain for the tour of Australia starting this month, says former India skipper Mohammed Azharuddin.

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“I think they will announce his name. I don’t think there will be somebody else who is going to captain. It he does not captain the side it will be very unfair. It will not be a nice thing to do. He is a senior player; you cannot humiliate him,” Azharuddin told IANS here.

The selectors will announce the captain and the team for the Australia tour in Bangalore Wednesday.

It is the first time that the selectors have appointed two captains for national teams – Kumble for Test matches and Mahendra Singh Dhoni for One-Day Internationals and Twenty20.

Azharuddin, here to watch the second India-Pakistan Test at the invitation of the Cricket Association of Bengal, said that it was fine to have two skippers, provided their egos do not clash. “As long you don’t have egos it’s okay. The moment people have egos it become a difficult job,” he said in an interview.

Giving his own example, the 44-year-old batsman, who was surprisingly appointed captain in 1990 ahead of much senior players, said he had no problem in leading the side.

“I found it very easy. When I was captain, there were three or four captains who played under me. I looked at it in a positive way: you had so many people for (getting) advice. You could go to anybody and seek advice – that was my big advantage.

“I never looked at it from a negative angle, and that’s why so many captains played under me for so many years.”

Azharuddin led in 47 Tests, won 14, lost 14 and 19 matches were drawn.

The stylish Hyderabad batsman praised the way Kumble led India to victory in the first Test in Delhi against Pakistan.

“Kumble has got a very good head and knows the game and the players very well. He has been playing with some of the players for 15-16 years, so he knows their psyche. He is a very stable guy, and you need someone who is stable. A captain’s job is not an easy one,” he said.

Azharuddin also lauded V.V.S. Laxman’s unbeaten knock of 112 in the first innings at Eden Gardens.

“If you look at his performance since 2001 India has won a lot of matches because of his aggressive batting. There are other players, like Rahul Dravid and Sachin Tendulkar who have also performed, but it was his knocks that were the turning points in most games,” he said of his fellow Hyderabadi.

“When he went there (in the middle) he played very fast, so that he did not put much pressure on the other batsmen even though they played slowly. Maybe, he doesn’t look aggressive from his body language, but he is mentally very strong.”

Azharuddin, however, said that Laxman’s future in cricket lay in Test cricket only.

“Now the fate of his batting is only Test cricket. He is not going to play one-day games, maybe, because of his (poor) fielding. If his fielding and running between the wickets were good – he has got a knee injury – he would have been one of the finest one-day players as well,” he said.

With the advent of Twenty20 cricket, said Azharuddin, players like Tendulkar, Dravid and Sourav Ganguly have to compete hard with youngsters.

“Obviously, when you have played for so many years and there are so many youngsters you should be able to compete 75 percent – and I am not saying 100 percent — with these youngsters … young legs, young bodies, it makes a lot of difference. They just have to compete, and the young boys have really done well and they field well,” he said.

On the utility of Tendulkar, Dravid and Ganguly in the team, Azharuddin said it was an individual decision to carry on or retire.

“It depends on individuals, how he feels at the end of the day, how his body reacts. Also, what kind of interest is left in them, because sometimes what happens is that you like to bat but when it comes to fielding you don’t like to field.

“They have to find out those things themselves. It’s very easy for people to say this or that, but at the end of the day an individual’s decision that most important.”