Kohli-Kumble spat: The current controversy and its fallout, here’s the lowdown

As of now the Indian team is without a coach and there are five people in the running after fresh applications were invited.
Kohli-Kumble spat: The current controversy and its fallout, here’s the lowdown
Kohli-Kumble spat: The current controversy and its fallout, here’s the lowdown
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The saga of the purported rift between the Indian Test captain Virat Kohli and coach Anil Kumble came to a bitter end on Tuesday with the latter putting in his papers.

As per a media report, it now emerges that the two were not on talking terms for the last six months ever since the England series got over in December.

The Cricket Advisory Committee comprising Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly and VVS Laxman had apparently given the green signal for an extension to Kumble’s tenure, which was to expire after the Champions Trophy in England, but with a rider that all pending issues should be resolved amicably.

Post the Champions Trophy loss, the two did sit across the table to sort out their differences, however, this failed to break the ice.

So what went wrong?

Former BCCI secretary Ajay Shirke said that Kohli was against Kumble’s appointment from the very beginning and it was the Board that finally convinced him to accept Kumble as head coach. Kohli in fact was rooting for Ravi Shastri as coach since the two had forged a successful partnership earlier.

Media reports suggest that Kohli was not happy with Kumble’s strict style of functioning, he did not want Kumble’s interference in the selection of the final eleven and he along with his teammates were unhappy with Kumble’s insistence on proving match fitness ahead of selection in the playing eleven.

It also appears that Kohli was wielding so much influence in the team that he only needed ‘yes’ men as coaches and not somebody who would speak his mind. In fact, former Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) coach Ray Jennings had said, “He (Virat) is a very talented kid but sometimes thinks he is better than the game.” Jennings believed that Kohli was the reason behind his sacking as RCB coach.

Expert views on the matter

Wading into the controversy, Sunil Gavaskar felt that being the hard taskmaster that Kumble was, shouldn’t have been a problem since he had given creditable results and it was the players who were unhappy with his rigid style that should have been asked to leave.

He was quoted by NDTV as saying, "So you want softies. You want somebody to just tell you, 'ok boys, don't practice today because you guys are not feeling well, ok take a holiday, go shopping'. You want that kind of a person."

Gavaskar minced no words and said that it was a signal for the next coach that you either submit to the demands of the captain and players else you will have to step down as Kumble did.

He is also reported to have said that for the sake of the next coach, what is overbearing and what is not, needs to be clarified so that the new person who comes into the job does not meet the same fate as Kumble.

Meanwhile, former batsman Aakash Chopra felt that the whole episode could have been handled better since it appears that Kumble became aware of Kohli’s reservations only recently. He also said, “In this case, it is best to hear both sides of the story before making villains out of people.”

Former coach Madan Lal had said earlier that it was a sad situation for Indian coaches who have never got a sufficiently long run unlike their counterparts in other countries.

“It (Kumble episode) is another setback for Indian coaches. I don’t know why Indian coaches don’t get longer stints. It is the players who decide. In countries like Australia, coaches are given a lot of power and they also know how to manage things.”

“In India, players are seen as stars, in other countries they are just sportspersons. Our cricketers are made into heroes, which is wrong. Here (in India), you have to be very close to the captain and agree with all the small, small things he says,” said Madan Lal.

The Indian cricket team

The road ahead

As of now, the Indian team is in the West Indies to play a series, without a coach. MV Sridhar who is the BCCI General Manager, cricket operations will supervise the team management.

The BCCI has invited applications for the post and five people are in the running - Virender Sehwag, Tom Moody, Richard Pybus, Lalchand Rajput and Dodda Ganesh.

It is learnt that a new coach would be in place before the Sri Lanka series starting in July.

“They (CAC) will now have to find a new coach from the applicants that have applied (for the post). That will obviously take some time. It can’t be done overnight. Kumble will not be considered for the new coach. He has himself withdrawn from that,” said a  BCCI functionary.

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