Without getting into who is right or who is wrong, it must be said that, there are many unfortunate aspects about the way Anil Kumble’s reign as the coach of the Indian cricket team has ended. The way the entire episode was handled, the perceived importance given to players and the increasing superstar power culture emerging in Indian cricket (as articulated by Ramchandra Guha in his COA resignation letter) are some of them. But most disappointing and worrying aspect of the entire episode is the message that it sends out. The clear message from this episode is that if you are a member of the non-playing staff and if you disagree with the captain, there is a good chance that you will lose your job. BCCI well as might put an eligibility condition in the application forms in relation to the appointment of the next coach- ‘.Applicant should confirm that he will never disagree or question the captain or the players in any manner at any point of time’.
Of course nobody knows exactly what transpired between Kohli and Kumble. And if the truth is anything different than what the general public currently believes then the BCCI owes it to Kohli to come out with the actual facts. However by all accounts it seems that there were differences in style and approach and Kohli voiced concerns over those differences and that made Kumble’s position untenable.
Kohli is a very passionate and driven person. The same passion and drive has ensured that he has risen to top of world batting. The same passion and drive has made him win many a matches for his country. There is no doubt as well that he is a very passionate thinker and clearly feels very strongly on some issues. It is never grey when it comes to Virat Kohli- it is always black or white. All statements indicate that. Around a year back Kohli declared that people who had never played international cricket should not pass opinions on Indian cricketers. A couple of months back he had stated that he could never be friends with some Australian cricketers. In December 2014, after a stunning hundred at the Melbourne Cricket ground, he declared that he did not respect the opposition’s main bowler- Mitchel Johnson. You may agree or disagree with the way he is so outspoken but one cannot deny that there is a lot of emotion and passion behind everything that Virat Kohli says and does.
Therefore it should be no surprise that Kohli disagreed with certain aspects of the methods adopted by Anil Kumble and voiced his disagreement about them to the BCCI. It should also be no surprise that Anil Kumble, a strong and committed personality, had his own views on the functioning of the Indian cricket team. There were bound to be disagreements with two strong personalities involved in the running of the Indian team but as long as their intention was the same- betterment of Indian cricket- then the disagreement should have been taken with a pinch of salt.
The BCCI of course reacted differently. Apparently the Cricket Advisory committee and the BCCI tried to bring about a truce between Kohli and Kumble. Apparently they tried their level best to repair the relationship but the relationship had become untenable. But was that how the BCCI supposed to react? Kohli had a right to express his grievances to the BCCI but shouldn’t the BCCI taken a harder stance and indicated to Kohli that he had to continue working with Kumble because that was in in the interest of Indian cricket. Or if indeed the methods adopted by Kumble so harmful for the team shouldn’t the BCCI informed Kumble that he had to mend his ways. A governing authority is supposed to take decisions in the interest of its subject, it cannot be a body which tries and brings about a truce so that everyone is happy. Even at the height of the Greg Chappell acrimony, the BCCI did not take any steps to end Chappell’s tenure. Chappell’s tenure ended based on performance and India’s exit in the 2007 World Cup. John Buchannan and Shane Warne did not get along neither did Kevin Pietersen and Andy Flower. In none of the above cases was the coach sacked on account of the discomfort that a player/ captain had with the coach. A coach (or a captain) should only be sacked on the basis of his win loss record and his performance.
The bigger question though is the message which Indian crickets and the administrators are sending out. Currently if you are a commentator and you say something wrong about the players than you are out of job. If you are a coach and if the players do not agree with your methods, then you are out of job. Indian cricket is laying down some very very unhealthy precedents.
In a while things will go back to normal. Kohli and his boys will continue playing cricket in West Indies, South Africa and Sri Lanka. Anil Kumble will soon a job befitting his stature and experience. But how much the actions of the last few months will affect Indian cricket, only time will tell.