The way in which the coach-captain rift has been handled by the Indian cricketing establishment has peeved one of the members of the Supreme Court-appointed Committee of Arbitrators (CoA), enough for it to be one of the reasons for him to step down from the panel.
Historian Ramachandra Guha is agitated that player power has had a disproportionate influence on the matter, which can result in coach Anil Kumble not getting an extension despite a stellar record, winning five Test series on the bounce.
“In a system based on justice and merit, the head coach’s term would have been extended. Instead, Kumble was left hanging, and then told that the post would be re-advertised afresh,” Guha writes in his resignation letter to CoA chairman Vinod Raion Friday.
“The Indian team’s record this past season has been excellent; and even if the players garner the bulk of the credit, surely the head coach and his support staff also get some.” Also Read | Exclusive details of Ramachandra Guha’s letter to Vinod Rai on why he quit as BCCI administrator
Guha takes on the prevalent superstar culture in Indian cricket, and without taking names, trains his guns at skipper Virat Kohli and other players in the squad, who have made their disgruntlement known about Kumble’s “overbearing” style of functioning.
The historian believes players should not get to decide who the coach should be, or they may seek a role in the appointment of individuals higher up the BCCI hierarchy. Guha indicated such a scenario is not amenable to the professional running of any enterprise.
“Surely, giving senior players the impression that they may have a veto power over the coach is another example of the superstar culture gone berserk? Such a veto power is not permitted to any other top level professional team in any other sport in any other country,” he said. Full text: Ramachandra Guha’s resignation letter to BCCI Committee of Administrators chief Vinod Rai
“If BCCI mandarins bow down to the superstars who are used to having their way in such matters, they may regret it as Board officials may be next in line. The players may try to get rid of anyone whose views and comments they don’t appreciate, or who stands up to their hegemony.”
Guha alluded to the removal of Harsha Bhogle from the Indian Premier League commentary panel, ostensibly to satisfy certain Team India players peeved at his ‘over-critical’ comments about them.
“Already, in a dismaying departure from international norms, current Indian players enjoy a veto power on who can be members of the commentary team. If it is to be coaches next, then perhaps selectors and office-bearers will follow,” Guha predicted.
The BCCI, while advertising for the coach’s post, said the timing, just before the ICC Champions Trophy, was necessitated as Kumble was coming close to the end of his one-year tenure. But Guha felt the matter could have been dealt with much better.
“In case due process had to be followed since Kumble’s original appointment was only for one year, why was this not done during April and May, when the IPL was on? If indeed the captain and Head Coach were not getting along, why was this not attended to as soon as the Australia series was over in the late March? Why was it left until the last minute, when a major international tournament was imminent, and when the uncertainty would undermine the morale and ability to focus of the captain, and the team?”
While he blamed the BCCI old guard and CEO Rahul Johri for the situation, Guha did not spare the CoA, which, he felt, could have done better to resolve the impasse.
“Clearly, the issue has been handled in an extremely insensitive and unprofessional manner by the BCCI CEO and the BCCI office-bearers, with the COA, by its silence and inaction, unfortunately being complicit in this regard. (Recall that the Court Order of 30 January had expressly mandated us to supervise the management of the BCCI.),” he said.