Anil Kumble has stepped down as the Indian cricket team’s head coach, two days after India lost the Champions Trophy final against Pakistan and four days prior to the team playing their first match in the limited-overs series in the Caribbean.
According to a top BCCI official, Kumble’s decision to step down also means fresh applications will be invited for the coach’s post.
“The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) confirms that Mr Anil Kumble has withdrawn his services as the post of the Head Coach for the Senior India Men’s team,” the cricket board release said, adding that MV Sridhar, the BCCI general manager-cricket operations, will “supervise the Team Management for the West Indies tour”, and Sanjay Bangar and R Sridhar will continue as batting coach and fielding coach respectively.
Kumble’s one-year contract expired after the Champions Trophy.
On Monday morning, the Indian cricket team sans their coach left for West Indies from London.
However, it is learnt that before the team’s departure, Kumble and India captain Virat Kohli had a meeting with the BCCI top brass – acting secretary Amitabh Choudhary, Johri and Sridhar – following which the coach made up his mind to quit.
The BCCI release said: “While the Cricket Advisory Committee (CAC) had endorsed an extension to his tenure as Head Coach, Mr Anil Kumble has decided not to continue as the coach.”
The CAC comprising Sachin Tendulkar, VVS Laxman and Sourav Ganguly indeed wanted to extend Kumble’s contract till the 2019 World Cup. But they eventually had to backtrack, seemingly on the face of Kohli’s disapproval.
“Yes, both of them (Kumble and Kohli) had met during the day (Monday). The meeting was initiated, based on the meetings that the CAC had with them as well as the BCCI. (It was found) that the differences between them weren’t resolvable, which is why his (Kumble) position wasn’t tenable from a long-term perspective. It’s not about this West Indies tour. In the long-term, it’s not going to work out,” a top BCCI functionary told this paper.
Asked if it was the CAC’s suggestion to the cricket board, he said: “There must be some CAC advice to the BCCI, because they are the final authority that will recommend (on the coach). It was a CAC decision and not a BCCI decision. The differences weren’t resolvable and they have to find an alternative. And Kumble also realised that, since he and Kohli were together in the conversation, it wasn’t going to get sorted out. Then, he knows that between captain and coach, you will obviously go with the captain.”
Not on the same page
According to a source, Kohli had a separate meeting with the CAC ahead of the Champions Trophy final during which he reiterated his aversion towards Kumble continuing as the head coach. It basically proved to be the tipping point. That Kohli and Kumble were never on the same page had been confirmed by the former BCCI secretary Ajay Shirke during a recent interview with this paper.
“There had been some murmurs about this (the reported Kumble-Kohli controversy) even at the time of Mr Kumble’s appointment. At that time our president (Anurag Thakur) had taken the initiative and he had a detailed discussion with both the parties, and it was decided that since the committee (CAC) had recommended Mr Kumble as the best option, we should go ahead with that. Therefore, I think the real reason for a one-year contract was that we would work and evolve, and see how this went so as to keep the options open at a future date,” Shirke had said.
Kumble took charge from Ravi Shastri, who was the team director, in June last year and presided over five Test series wins in a row and three limited-overs series victories in 12 months.
India won 12 Tests under him and lost only one. The team also reached the Champions Trophy final before stumbling at the final hurdle.
So, what next? “They (CAC) will now have to find a new coach from the applicants that have applied (for the post). That will obviously take some time. It can’t be done overnight. Kumble will not be considered for the new coach. He has himself withdrawn from that,” said the BCCI functionary.
The press release said: “The BCCI will continue to seek the assistance of the Cricket Advisory Committee in its search for a new Head Coach for the Senior India Men’s Cricket Team.”
The BCCI is now left with five applicants including a high-profile candidate like Virender Sehwag. The upcoming cricket board special general meeting (SGM) on June 26 is expected to deliberate on the coach issue to initiate the appointment process.