Anil Kumble steps down as Indian cricket team’s head coach

CRICKET

Anil Kumble has stepped down as Indian cricket team’s head coach, just days after the Men in Blue lost to Pakistan in the ICC Champions Trophy final.

Kumble, who was expected to join the Indian cricket team team in West Indies after an ICC board meet, has decided to call it quits.

Mr. Amitabh Choudhary, Acting Secretary of the BCCI, said “We wish to place on record our sincere appreciation for 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 and wishes him all the best in his future endeavour.”

On Tuesday morning when  checked with the media manager of the Indian cricket team en route to the West Indies, he categorically stated that “Anil Kumble was travelling with the team.” Within hours news broke that Kumble had stayed back to attend an ICC cricket committee meeting.

What’s even more bizarre is that the travelling administrative staff didn’t even know if Kumble was joining the team.

“We have no communication whatsoever but as per original plans, Kumble was scheduled to travel with the team,” said a well-placed team source.

After Sunday’s defeat against Pakistan at The Oval, the Indians were totally incommunicado. It was clear that the hurt of a 180-run defeat against the lowest ranked team in the Champions Trophy was too hard to digest.

But just like the lead up to the Champions Trophy, the Kumble issue once again became a talking point after murmurs emerged that captain Virat Kohli is adamant on a shift in guard as far as the head coach was concerned.

DRAWN A BLANK

The Cricket Advisory Committee, comprising former heroes Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly and VVS Laxman, has so far drawn a blank in finding a solution to the coach crisis. Senior BCCI functionaries, speaking on condition of anonymity, now wonder if Kumble’s appointment in June 2016 was a step in the right direction.

Should Ravi Shastri have continued then?

If Kohli and the most in the current team were given a proper hearing, Shastri would have been an automatic choice but the Ganguly-engineered Kumble move is clearly coming back to vitiate the dressing room atmosphere.

Kohli’s cold relationship with Kumble was clearly visible during the Champions Trophy. During nets, the captain and coach hardly interacted. And to make matters worse, Kumble never thought it was important to clear the air.

ADAMANT?

Earlier, the CAC seemed adamant on an extension for Kumble. The delay in announcing the coach has only created uncertainties in the dressing room. Kohli has even praised the effort of batting coach Sanjay Bangar but hardly mentioned Kumble in his media interactions.

The CAC is aware of the good relationship between Kohli and Shastri. The captain was seen having long conversations with the former team director during the Champions Trophy.

India’s first match against West Indies is scheduled in Trinidad on June 23. The five-match ODI and lone T20 series ends July 9.

As Farokh Engineer said: “India doesn’t need a coach. They need to rename that role to something like a cricket manager. Kohli needs a good man manager, not a headmaster.”

The sooner the CAC puts logic and a bit of intelligence ahead of their personal agenda, the Indian dressing room will be a much happier place.