The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Thereís a zing to my career now, says Anil Kumble
- Indiaís newest Test captain spells out his agenda

Calcutta: ďI donít carry a hype... Iím (just) pretty clinical,Ē is how Anil ĎJumboí Kumble assessed himself during a one-on-one with The Telegraph. That was at the Pearl Continental in Lahore, some 22 months ago, on the eve of the last Test series versus Pakistan.

Now, of course, the hype has begun to build around him ó whether Kumble, who values privacy, likes it or not. Early on Friday, a few hours after his appointment as Indiaís newest Test captain, he spoke exclusively from his residence in Bangalore.

The following are excerpts

Q Having announced you were ready to captain, were you tense for much of Thursday'

A (Laughs) It was Diwali for us and, in the evening especially, I was busy with the kids... It was time for crackers and stuff like that... Of course, I was conscious that the selectors would be taking a decision... The captaincy was definitely there at the back of my mind.

Who gave you the good news'

I got a call from the selectors... (Venkatapathi) Raju and Dilip (Vengsarkar)... They didnít say much, though.

Your first reaction'

Felt proud... Iím the 30th Test captain and the list has so many distinguished names... It was a proud moment when I got the call and I see the captaincy as the crowning glory... For 17 years, Iíve served Indian cricket to the best of my ability and Iíve now got the chance to serve in a different capacity.

How did the family celebrate'

It was so late at night and I kept getting calls... There was no time to actually do something... My wife and I intend taking the kids out today (Friday)... I suppose there will be some kind of celebration.

Youíre 37, an age by when most cricketers have called it a day. So, are you now going to be that much more motivated'

The captaincy has, indeed, come as a shot in the arm... Thereís a zing to my career now... As in the past, Iíll put my best foot forward and help Indian cricket get the results it deserves... We do need to move forward...

But arenít you disappointed that the captaincy has come so late'

(Laughs again) Well, better late than never... I got many calls even before the selectors had made their decision and everybody said I deserved to be captain. That touched me and I hope to live up to their and my expectations. Our cricket has a rich history, has tradition and Iím happy with the new role.

Still, are you somewhat apprehensive that the split captaincy (Mahendra Singh Dhoni is captain in ODIs and the Twenty20 format) could lead to confusion/uncertainty in the dressing room'

No way... I believe Dhoni and I are going to complement each other...

Wouldnít you have been happier had the appointment also been for the four-Test series in Australia'

As you know, I take one thing at a time... Never look too far ahead... Iím only thinking of the upcoming three Tests.

Have you looked up to any one captain'

Iíve tried to take bits and pieces from the captains Iíve played under and against, but Iíd like to do things my way... Perhaps, do things a bit differently... Sure, Iíve admired a few captains, but Iíd rather not make that public.

Whatís the type of captain youíd like to be'

One who ensures that his players are prepared in the best possible manner and one who allows them to play their natural game... I want that 100 per cent from every player, thatís it... (After a pause) Besides consistency, Iím looking forward to building a team ethic.

Today, whatís your biggest challenge or priority No. 1'

Having been around for 17 years, I know whatís required to be done... Weíve got to go forward and that can be achieved by being consistent. Personally, Iím at my best when Iím really intense and would like a high level of intensity from the team as well... The Test series isnít far away and the matches are back-to-back, so thereís little time to think too much.

Your debut will be at the Kotla...

(Interrupting) Oh, the Kotla has always been special... I scored a hundred at the U-19 level, then I made my India comeback (1992-93 tour of South Africa) after doing well in the Irani Trophy there... Iíve also got 10 wickets in a Test innings (10 for 74 and match figures of 14 for 149 versus Pakistan, in 1999)... It really is a special ground and Iím happy that my debut as Test captain is going to be there.

How do you rate Pakistan'

Very highly... A quality side and they seem to do particularly well in India. I have respect for the visitors and realise weíve got a tough Test series on our hands.

Is there a message for the players'

Not really... I know some have been playing without a break... The ones whoíve had a break need to quickly get back into groove.

Anything for the fans, who tend to react in extremes'

Theyíve been quite supportive and affectionate... Iíd like them to continue showing affection and backing us.

Will you at least be there for the last ODI, in Jaipur'

Right now, Iím not sure... But, yes, Iím looking forward to interacting with the selectors, getting to know what they have in mind... Within a day or two, I expect to hear from the Board.

The last one: Having scored an unbeaten 110 in your last Test (Brit Oval), are you going to promote yourself'

(Laughs once more) No... No... Iíd rather that the specialist batsmen got hundreds! Moving up in the batting order isnít on my agenda.

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