Thursday, March 14News That Matters

Cornering Anil Kumble was a disgraceful act, a blunder by Virat Kohli

Virat Kohli usually knows exactly where his off stump is. One of the best batsmen in the world at the moment, Kohli prides himself on his exceptional judgment. Apparently, there is an exception to this rule.

When Kohli toured England last for a Test series, he endured a rare failure. At first he left the ball poorly, and having stumps and confidence rattled, he then nibbled at everything outside off to be repeatedly caught behind.

On his successful trip to England for the Champions Trophy 2017, Kohli’s judgment at the crease was spot on; his decisions as skipper were astute; off the field, however, he made the kind of blunder that can only lead to a lifetime of regret.

Kohli pole-axed Anil Kumble as coach. To not want to work with someone is reasonable, but the honourable thing to do then is quit, rather than sticking the knife in when your colleague has his back turned.

To have a breakdown of communication or a difference of opinion is entirely likely when working in a high-pressure environment. To use that to settle a non-existent score is petty, and ultimately self-defeating.

When he applied for the job of Indian coach a year ago, Kumble had no coaching credentials. He had a million wickets, give or take a few, as a player, had mentored the Mumbai Indians and served as president of the Karnataka State Cricket Association.

A committee of Kumble’s peers, the holy triumvirate of Indian cricket legends, believed that there was good reason to overlook Kumble’s lack of formal coaching experience. In his time as coach, Kumble oversaw victory after victory. Not one Test series was lost. On the back of a bumper home Test season, India were red hot in the Champions Trophy in England, only losing against red-hot Pakistan in the final.

The panel that appointed Kumble sought time to make a decision on who India’s next coach would be. After all, having put him in the job without a track record to speak of, how could they remove him when the team had only success with his hand on the rudder?

The manner in which Kumble had been backed into a corner was dramatic and shameful. India’s highest wicket-taker in Tests maintained a studied silence when mud, and worse, was slung at him as soon as the team landed in London.

Plain lies were published about Whatsapp groups the coach apparently used to feed stories to the media. Distortions abounded as Kumble was characterised as being overbearing for demanding punctuality.

The lack of leadership in the BCCI — and the courts must take responsibility for knee-capping cricket administration in India — ensured that Kohli could have his way. This was no rift, more like a vendetta. Ultimately, if Indian cricket wants to be strong, if Kohli wants to be respected and taken seriously, he must come forth and publicly explain what his problem with Kumble was. The manner in which India’s greatest matchwinner was treated is a warning to anyone aspiring to take up the job.

The BCCI, when it confirmed Kumble’s departure, did so in comically shoddy fashion: “The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCC) confirms that Mr Anil Kumble has withdrawn his services as the post of the Head Coach for the Senior India Men’s team,” the BCCI wrote on its website, getting its own acronym wrong and falsely implying that Kumble had resigned.

With his contract expired, Kumble had merely withdrawn his re-application. “While the Cricket Advisory Committee had endorsed an extension to his tenure as Head Coach, Mr Anil Kumble has decided not to continue as the coach.”

Why the BCCI, which said less than 24 hours earlier that the advisory committee wanted more time to reach a decision on Kumble’s future, said the same committee had endorsed an extension after Kumble withdrew is beyond comprehension. In the entire episode, only one person has come through with reputation enhanced: Kumble.

here is the Kumble’s open letter on twiiter:

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