“Who is the boss in the Indian team? The Captain or the Coach?” Dean Jones, a former Australian Cricketer, tweeted in disbelief when the news of Anil Kumble resigning from the post of Head Coach broke out.
Who is the boss? The captain leads his men on the field, the coach prepares them to take the field. Both play a vital role and a healthy relationship between the two is a must. But when the relationship is not healthy, who should be ousted from his post? The captain or the coach?
Reasons cited for the Indian skipper’s insistence on showing Kumble the door are stated to be as follows:
A section of the Indian media reported that senior members of the Indian Cricket Team were uncomfortable with the ‘overbearing’ attitude of the coach. The complaint, apparently, was that the coach didn’t allow players “freedom in the dressing room” but there is no clarity what that means.
Sunil Gavaskar made no secret of his discomfort with the reasoning. While talking to NDTV, Gavaskar asked, “So, do you want softies? You want somebody to just tell you, ‘Okay boys, don’t practise today because you guys are not feeling well, okay take a holiday, go shopping?”
It is also believed that Kumble’s suggestion to field Kuldeep Yadav in the third Test against Australia in Ranchi earlier this year was shot down by the Indian captain. When Ajinkya Rahane led the side in the next Test in Dharamshala, as Virat was ruled out due to injury, Kuldeep was made a part of the playing XI without Kohli’s knowledge. Kohli reportedly took it as a personal affront.
But Yadav did deliver. His figures read: 23 overs, three maidens, 68 runs for four wickets in the first innings; five overs, 23 runs, no wickets in the second.
On day one of the Dharamshala Test, debutant Yadav claimed four wickets. He scalped David Warner, Glenn Maxwell and Peter Handscomb and a tail-ender in Pat Cummins. He was the principal tormentor of the Australian innings and Australia was bundled out for 300 runs.
It was an incredible performance and, “after lunch, the way Kuldeep Yadav bowled in a pressure game which was also his first game, he deserves credit,” said the stand-in skipper Rahane while talking about Yadav.
Another reason cited ironically is that Kumble is a hard taskmaster. Not only Captain Kohli, but almost the entire team was apparently not happy with Kumble’s ways of pushing them to work harder.
“It’s just not the captain alone. A few months back, a bowler landed at the national cricket academy in Bangalore. Rest, recuperation and some fitness work was on his mind. Some bit of bowling too. He was told he had to put in hours of bowling in order to get Test-match fit. He wasn’t initially keen but was told he had no choice. For what it’s worth, his bowling improved at the end of the stint,” reported The Indian Express quoting a source.
Another speculated reason is that the Indian coach leaked one-on-one WhatsApp conversations with some senior players of the team to his friends in the media.
"We've been told that there is a WhatsApp group created by Kumble of his trusted media friends and a few confidential conversations between him and senior players were leaked through that," reported DNA quoting a senior BCCI official.
If this is true, it is a serious allegation and there was no way the coach could continue. The coach must have the confidence of the team and, if at all, the legendary spinner was involved in such businesses, he should face the ouster. But it remains an insinuation at best and there is still no confirmation about the nature of the alleged leaks.
Seventeen test matches under head coach Anil Kumble; India won 12 and lost just one, while four matches ended up without a result. Kumble, the accused hard taskmaster, has delivered results. The coach has also stood for his team whenever needed.
For instance, when the Board of Control for Cricket in India was contemplating on boycotting the Champions Trophy, it was head coach Kumble who took the matter in his own hands and wrote to the BCCI. The top BCCI officials, reportedly, were not too pleased with Kumble for doing that.
When the coach was doing almost everything right, is it not the superstar culture, that Ramchandra Guha had questioned, that has made Kumble resign?
“And surely giving senior players the impression that they may have a veto power over the coach is another example of superstar culture gone berserk? Such a veto power is not permitted to any other top level professional team in any other sport in any other country. Already, in a dismaying departure from international norms, current Indian players enjoy a veto power on who can be the members of the commentary team. If it is to be coaches next, then perhaps the selectors and even office-bearers will follow?”