AS the deadline to apply for the job of India’s cricket coach ended Wednesday, it became increasingly clear that Anil Kumble’s one-year contract was unlikely to be extended — one primary reason being skipper Virat Kohli’s objection to Kumble’s style of functioning. Though BCCI officials, and even members of the Supreme Court-appointed Committee of Administrators (CoA), are trying to broker peace between the two, those involved in these negotiations say the differences between the coach and captain are long-standing and “almost irrevocable.”
With the high-profile cricket committee of past cricketers, Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly and VVS Laxman, expected to scrutinise the applications and name a coach by the month end, the Champions Trophy in England — that starts on Thursday with India playing Pakistan in their opening game on Sunday — is likely to be Kumble’s last assignment as India coach.
“The problem between Kumble and Kohli isn’t recent but has apparently been festering on for a while. The early signs were seen at the start of the England series in Rajkot in November last year. Not just Virat, we have been told that a few players are also not too happy with Kumble’s style of functioning. When the captain especially isn’t happy, then there is little that we or anybody from outside can do,” an official said.
“Barring a minor miracle, I don’t see Kumble continuing,” is how a source put it. However, a CoA member was of the view that by letting Kohli have his way, the BCCI was setting a bad precedent. “Kohli is behaving like a spoilt child. The committee should be fair. Kumble has had great results and that should be a big factor when it comes to renewing his contract,” said the member. Since Kumble’s appointment as coach a year ago, India has won five successive Test series.
Meanwhile, in recent weeks, Kumble made presentations to the SC-appointed committee and to BCCI officials where he requested for pay hikes for players and coaches. But the two issues should not be connected, said an official. “It’s the players led by Kohli who have raised their concerns with Kumble’s style of functioning.”