Kumble chucks his wicket, retires hurt
NEW DELHI: Anil Kumble’s departure as head coach, in spite of a successful year at the helm, will be regarded as a triumph for player power in Indian cricket, according to several former captains.
The country’s board took a gamble last June when they put their trust in former captain Kumble, who had no real coaching experience and was not even on the original list of candidates.
The former spinner, however, forged a productive partnership with skipper Virat Kohli as India recorded 12 victories in 17 Test matches – including series victories over Australia, England, New Zealand and the West Indies.
His team also recently reached the final of the ICC Champions Trophy, where the former champions lost to Pakistan by 180 runs.
But the cracks that were forming beneath the surface of their seemingly harmonious association were becoming more visible as his tenure progressed.
Kumble, whose original contract expired at the end of the Champions Trophy on Sunday but was extended to oversee the team’s Tour to the West Indies this month, stepped down yesterday, citing a breakdown in relations with his skipper.
“It was apparent that the partnership was untenable, and I therefore believe it is best for me to move on,” the 46-year-old Kumble wrote in a Twitter message posted yesterday.
Kumble, who is India’s highest Test wicket-taker having snatched 619 sticks in 132 matches – with 35 five-fors and eight 10-fors – added that he was surprised by Kohli’s reservations over his style of coaching.
“I see the coach’s role akin to ‘holding a mirror’ to drive selfimprovement in the team’s interest,” wrote Kumble, who may not be as expressive as Kohli but is perceived as equally assertive.
Former captain Sunil Gavaskar was critical of the circumstances that led to Kumble’s demise.
“So, you want softies,” Gavaskar pondered on NDTV.
“You want somebody to just tell you: ‘Okay boys, don’t practice today because you guys are not feeling well, okay take a holiday, go shopping’. “You want that kind of a person?” “If any of the players are complaining, I feel those players are the ones who should be left out of the team,” he added.
Since Greg Chappell’s tumultuous two-year tenure ended in 2007, successors such as John Wright, Gary Kirsten – who won a World Cup as their coach in 2011 – and Duncan Fletcher, registered varied degrees of success with the team, confining themselves largely to the background.
Former skipper Bishan Singh Bedi said he was not surprised by Kumble’s decision as no selfrespecting person could have carried on in such an environment.
“Gratitude has obviously been thrown out of window by whoever raising ‘revolt’...”, tweeted the spin great, calling it a loss for Indian cricket.
Gavaskar said the episode would send out the wrong message as the Indian board set about finding Kumble’s successor.
“This is sending a signal for the next coach – either bow down to what the players want you to do, otherwise you, like one of India’s cricket legends (Kumble), will have to step down.” – Reuters