Melbourne: Anil Kumble, beneath his placid exterior, is fiercely competitive and Australias tried and tested formula to target the visiting captain before crushing the rivals may fail this time, believe John Wright and John Buchanan.
Both Wright, a former India coach, and Buchanan, who guided Ricky Pontings men till the other day, feel that Indias captaincy reins are in firm hands and the hosts would find Kumble a tough nut to crack during the four-match Test series.
I think hes a good choice as skipper, said Wright, who coached India from 2000-2005 with distinction.
[In fact, Wright had told The Telegraph on the eve of his last day in office as Team India coach that Kumble and not Rahul Dravid was best suited to take over the captains mantle from Sourav.]
Hes fiercely determined… I wouldnt like to fight him, put it that way, the former Black Caps captain was quoted as saying by an Australian news agency on Monday.
Wright said Kumble had the experience and tactical acumen to play positively against the redoubtable hosts.
He doesnt back down and I like his attitude because he looks to attack with the way he leads. The one game he did with me (a one-day win over England in 2002)… I was very impressed with his outlook, which was very positive, Wright reminisced.
Australia have always targeted visiting captains such as Jimmy Adams, Nasser Hussain, Graeme Smith and Andrew Flintoff and the ploy has worked well in the past.
Like Wright, Buchanan also felt that the strategy might not work against a hard-boiled customer such as Kumble. The seasoned leggie also came in for praise from the former Australia coach, who said Kumble could think on his feet.
Hes their best choice, no doubt about that. Hes a very humble sort of person but a man whos quite determined. I think he has the respect of the older group — (Sourav) Ganguly, (Sachin) Tendulkar and Dravid — but the younger players also think hes the right person at the helm, Buchanan said.
He will find it a testing time of his capabilities as a captain but my view is hes a pretty astute sort of person, a resilient guy and pretty impervious to distractions, he added.
Wright, meanwhile, offered an advice to the Indian side — avoid trying to match Australias on-field aggression and fall into the trap.
Its about what you do and not what you say. (In October) they probably played into Australias hands… If you do say anything, youve got to back it up with performances, Buchanan said.