Kum­ble chucks his wicket, re­tires hurt

The Star Early Edition - - SPORT -

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

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