LONDON/MUMBAI: Many well-wishers of Indian cricket would have been tempted to give a piece of their mind to the team after its 180-run loss to arch-rival Pakistan in the Champions Trophy final.
Coach Anil Kumble did so, but in the process, his already-fractured relationship with the squad reached a point of no return.
The players, some of whom were already very distraught after the defeat, complained about Kumble’s “overbearing attitude” all over again to captain Virat Kohli.
On Monday night, Kumble and Kohli met BCCI secretary Amitabh Chowdhury, CEO Rahul Johri and general manager (cricket operations) MV Sridhar, leading to Kumble not boarding the team bus to the airport along with the cricketers hours later.
On Tuesday, Indian cricket’s long-drawn domestic squabble finally ended with Kumble quitting, hours after the team left for the West Indies. He later tweeted, “Though BCCI attempted to resolve misunderstandings between the captain and me, it was apparent that the parternship was untenable, and I therefore believe it is best for me to move on.”
At mid-afternoon London time, the BCCI tweeted, posting a link to its website, “Mr Anil Kumble has withdrawn his services as post of the head coach. While the Cricket Advisory Committee had endorsed an extension to his tenure, Mr Kumble has decided not to continue as the coach.”
Following India’s 180-run defeat on Sunday, Kumble is understood to have had one-on-ones with some players regarding their performance in the game, leading to some frayed nerves in the dressing room. Kumble was upset by the team’s poor bowling in that match and is said to have mentioned to the bowling lineup that they compared poorly with some past legends of Indian cricket.
Communication between Kumble and captain Kohli had already broken down weeks before, and the two maintained a discreet distance during their monthlong stay here in England for the Champions Trophy.
The cricket advisory committee (CAC) – consisting of three legends in Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly and VVS Laxman – which is tasked with choosing the next coach, will discuss the next course of action via a conference call (Laxman is back in India while Tendulkar and Ganguly are still in London).
The resignation means the efforts of the CAC to broker a truce between captain and coach failed completely. With Kohli unwilling to take a backward step and seemingly uninterested in any compromise solution, Kumble, it seems, was left with no choice but to put in his papers.
Late on Tuesday, a top Board official told SatyaMevJayates: “The differences between them are not resolvable. It’s not about Kumble going to the West Indies. It’s about the fact that in the long run it’s not sustainable.Both have their views in terms of roles and responsibilities and they were not always on a common page. After recent interactions, Kumble has realised that this issue won’t be sorted out. Obviously, we aren’t going to get rid of the captain. So, it’s he who has to step down. There’s just no other option.”
Kumble, it is learnt, was miffed that the board did not publicly announce that it was amenable to giving him an extension for the West Indies tour, and did not back him more after details of captain Kohli’s reservations about his “intimidating” work style became public. The board advertised for the head coach’s job instead of giving him an extension.
Kumble, whose one-year contract ended with the Champions Trophy, is also the chairman of the ICC cricket committee, which will meet in London on Thursday.
Kumble was extremely successful as coach and his resignation implies the balance of power in Indian cricket now shifts completely towards captain Kohli, which is making some administrators uncomfortable.
“We wish to place on record our sincere appreciation of the immense contribution by Anil Kumble to the team, which enabled India to attain the No. 1 Test position. Indian cricket needs his continued contribution in various capacities,” BCCI’s acting secretary Amitabh Chowdhary said in a statement.
Did the board try to tell both the parties to adjust and move on? “The CAC and the board have spoken to both the individuals multiple times during the Champions Trophy. It’s a marriage which broke down completely,” the official explained.