Former BCCI secretary Ajay Shirke Thursday indicated that captain Virat Kohli was opposed to Anil Kumble’s appointment as the head coach from the very beginning. The BCCI eventually persuaded him to accept the choice made by its Cricket Advisory Committee (CAC) but gave Kumble a one-year contract.
Shirke, who was part of the coach selection process last year, told The Indian Express: “There had been some murmurs about this (Kumble-Kohli rift) even at the time of Mr Kumble’s appointment. At that time, our president (Anurag Thakur) had taken the initiative and had a detailed discussion with both parties, and it was decided that since the cricket 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.”
“Let us say he (Kohli) had his own views about it. And like I said, our president, Mr Thakur, took the initiative and told him that this was the unanimous choice of the cricket committee and we would have to abide by their recommendation and Kohli should accept it,” Shirke said.
Kumble did not meet the BCCI-specified criteria of coaching experience at the international level and had been excluded from the initial 21-member shortlist. He was included on the insistence of the CAC.
Shirke, however, said that Kumble had called him and “expressed his desire to coach India” after he became the BCCI secretary. This was before the coach-selection process had been initiated.
“He (Kumble) did explain to me that he was extremely passionate about cricket and winning and so on, and he would like to take over that position. I made it clear to him that the appointment wouldn’t be based on anybody’s recommendation, that we have a process for it, and he should follow the process.”
Shirke supported the BCCI’s decision to issue the notification for the coach’s appointment ahead of the Champions Trophy because Kumble’s term was ending. At the same time, he said the appointment of the coach should be the BCCI’s prerogative. “The captain may have a say in it, may have a view on it, but that view — it’s after all an individual view, although the captain is a very important part of the team — shouldn’t override the committee’s choice.”
Days after being appointed as India coach, Kumble had sought an audience with Shirke. Kohli, too, was present at that meeting. Asked what transpired, Shirke said: “Since it was a closed door meeting, it should remain a closed door meeting, because it’s not proper for me to speak.”