Relaxing at their hotel’s waterfront foyer, India’s tour party to the West Indies is still coming to terms with the sudden resignation of their head coach Anil Kumble. It is learnt that the team, while leaving London on Tuesday morning, was unaware that Kumble wouldn’t be joining them in the Caribbean. It was only after they landed at St Lucia, their transit point en route to Trinidad, and switched on their phones that they got to know that Kumble had resigned.
“It came as a shock. The boys were dazed. There had been talk of him staying back in London to attend the ICC Cricket Committee meeting. We all thought he would join the team before the second ODI on June 25 at Port of Spain,” a source said.
It is also learnt that Kumble’s post-resignation Twitter statement — in which he said he was surprised to learn that captain Virat Kohli had reservations with his style — hasn’t gone down well with the team. “Virat had so many chances of talking about the dressing room rift during the Champions Trophy press conferences but he didn’t. He expected the same from Kumble. The team was disturbed to read those comments, that too on Twitter,” the source said.
He added, “What’s even more shocking was Kumble claiming that Tuesday was the first time he was informed about the problem. How can he claim to have been in the dark about this?” Breaking his silence for the first time since Kumble’s resignation, Kohli, speaking on the eve of India’s opening ODI match against West Indies, said, “Obviously, Anil bhai has expressed his views and he’s taken the decision to step out and we will respect that decision. We have created a culture over the last three-four years that whatever happens in the changing room, we’ve tried to maintain the sanctity of the changing room throughout.”
“What happens in the changing room is something that’s very sacred and private to all of us. And something that I would not express in detail in a public scenario,” Kohli added.
In a statement announcing his resignation, Kumble wrote: “I was informed for the first time yesterday by the BCCI that the Captain had reservations with my ‘style’ and about my continuing as the Head Coach. I was surprised since I had always respected the role boundaries between Captain and Coach. Though the BCCI attempted to resolve the misunderstandings between the Captain and me, it was apparent that the partnership was untenable, and I therefore believe it is best for me to move on.”
Interestingly, Kohli has deleted his year-old Twitter post, in which he had welcomed Kumble’s appointment as coach. The June 23, 2016 tweet — “Heartiest welcome to @anilkumble1074 Sir. Look forward to your tenure with us. Great things in store for Indian Cricket with you.” — is no longer on Kohli’s timeline. No member of the present Indian team has acknowledged Kumble’s resignation or commented on his tenure as coach on social media.
Even the hosts seemed a tad bemused by Kumble’s no-show, with a West Indies Cricket Board official insisting that they had been unaware till Wednesday whether they should retain the room booking for him or not.
“As far as we are concerned, Kumble was listed as India coach and we thought he would be showing up in Port of Spain at some point during this week,” the official said. Another official quipped how in the past, there were always fears of the BCCI sending second-string sides to face the West Indies and this time, they have sent a full-strength squad but one without a head coach.