The rift between the Captain and the coach of the Indian cricket team, Virat Kohli and veteran Anil Kumble, apparently started with Kohli ignoring Kumble’s suggestion to include left arm spinner Kuldeep Yadav in the playing eleven in the third Test against Australia at Ranchi. Injury kept Kohli out of the next Test at Dharamshala and Kumble is accused of forcing stand-in skipper Ajinkya Rahane to include Yadav despite Kohli’s opposition.
But another media speculation has been that Kohli was upset at Kumble leaking chats of senior players to his friends in the media. Kohli had had enough of the coach’s ‘overbearing’ attitude, it was said.
With India scheduled to play its first match against arch-rivals Pakistan on Sunday, reports of the rift have caused consternation in the cricketing fraternity and among the fans.
Ramchandra Guha, renowned historian appointed by the Supreme Court of India as one of the members of the Committee of Administrators (COA), BCCI resigned after addressing a strongly worded letter to Vinod Rai
“The way in which the contract of Anil Kumble, the current Head Coach of the senior team, has been handled,” is cited by Guha as one of the eight reasons for his decision.
Guha, in his letter, questions BCCI’s and Kohli’s claim that the Indian Board was only following “due-process”. “In case due process had to be followed since Kumble’s original appointment was only for one year, why was this not done during April and May, when the IPL was on,” he enquired. Referring to reports of rift between Captain and the Coach, he asks the matter was not addressed at the end of the India-Australia series?
Criticising the “superstar culture” in the Indian Cricket team, Guha says, “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.”
Guha sarcastically adds, “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?”
Based in Bangalore, ardent cricket lover Guha, who is the author of Wickets in the East and The States of Indian Cricket, values the Bangalore connection. In an opinion piece he wrote, Guha had cited the then Indian coach Greg Chappell crediting the Indian team’s victory in the West Indies tour of 2006 to two ‘Bangloreans’, Dravid and Kumble.
Chappell was quoted by Guha as saying, “No team has had two more dogged, resilient and proud competitors; and, for them, the team always came first.” “There must be something in the water of Bangalore,” Guha added.
While Guha had described Dravid as the best ever Indian batsman after Tendulkar, he called Kumble as unquestionably the best Indian bowler ever.
Notwithstanding their Bangalore connection, Guha’s disappointment at the raw deal to Kumble does appear valid given the outstanding performance the Indian Coach delivered when, in just one season, India won 10 out of 13 Test matches, losing just one.