Kolkata: India is looking all good to put on a great show in the Champions Trophy after they cruised to victories in both their warm up games. But, off the field, things aren’t as good as it seems as there seems to be an internal conflict involving the players and head coach Anil Kumble with the latter not enjoying the confidence of the players.
With the BCCI not extending Kumble’s contract and instead choosing to invite applications for the post, there were talks that things weren’t on the right track between Kumble and the board. But now it looks like that the decision was made by the Indian cricket board after skipper Virat Kohli gave his feedback of Kumble’s coaching saying that is is, ‘intimidating’.
Kohli conveyed his discontent with Kumble’s coaching method to the BCCI as well as to the Committee of Administrators before the team left for England to begin their Champions Trophy title defense. He also is said to be discussed this issue in detail with former skipper Sourav Ganguly, who is a part of the part of the three member panel chosen by the board to select the coach for the Indian team.
The point of conflict between the players and the coach Kumble is the way the latter handles the team. According to a BCCI official, Kumble’s way of dealing with the team is similar to the way a, “headmaster” conducts himself at school.
The players, who are accustomed to having a relaxed atmosphere in the dressing room thus didn’t seem to accept this new approach and some players have felt a, ‘bit intimidated’ with the same.
As a matter of fact, the official goes on to say that some of the injuries that ruled out certain players under Kumble were not cricket related but due to stress. “Kumble was pushing hard. The bulk of them [injuries] are non-cricketing injuries. One of the players was stressed out. So the team is not a happy lot” he said.
What has surprised the BCCI is that the veteran leg-spinner has failed to identify these growing concerns of the players.
Under Kumble, India has enjoyed a lot of success in all three formats but the official stated that they have been winning games because the team has been playing mostly at home.
“The way the cricket set-up works in India is the coach is not the king. So the coach has to understand that” said the official.
It is based on the feedback given by the players that the BCCI decided to invite fresh applications for the job of the head coach although the official admitted that the time at which such a thing happened wasn’t ideal as the advertisement for the top job began the day the Indian team reached London for the Champions Trophy and the last date of inviting applications close on the eve of the first match of the tournament. But he insisted that the process had to be followed.
Virat Kohli, last week said that he didn’t find anything unusual about the BCCI inviting new applications for the job of the coach as he said, “The process has been followed every single time the similar way in Indian cricket for the past so many years is what I know..Even the last time the post was up for a change the same procedure was applied.
With the term being one year, the procedure is being followed in the same manner. I don’t see anything very different from what has happened in the past. That is something the board has recognised. They want to follow the same pattern.”
The Indian skipper also looked to attribute the team’s success to all the members instead of centering on Kumble. “When you have results come your way, the contribution is from every part of the team,” said Kohli.
He further added, “It is not from a single source to say the least. Everyone works hard equally if not more than the other person.”
However Kumble himself is yet to speak on this issue. He might be disappointed with these talks about him as he has enjoyed a considerable success with the team, from winning five test series in a row to becoming the number one ranked test side.
The former Indian skipper has been in direct talks with the Committee of Administrators about increasing the players salaries which also extends to the domestic cricketers and the coaching staff of the Indian team.
An awkward situation thus awaits the three member Cricket Advisory Committee who just last year chose Kumble as the coach. Although he wasn’t in shortlisted list of candidates due to his inexperience in the job, the BCCI appointed him because of the fact that the CAC insisted them in doing so.
Now, the body comprising of Sourav Ganguly, Sachin Tendulkar and VVS Laxman would have to begin the process all over again.
Kumble, during his appointment last year was offered a contract of just a year as he had no formal coaching experience with him and the then BCCI President Anurag Thakur had said that there would be a review of Kumble’s work as a coach after one year, following which the former leg-spinner would find himself in the ‘driver’s seat’ for the job according to the then BCCI secretary Ajay Shirke.
Since then, it’s been a year and unexpectedly, there seems to be rift in the team. We all would hope that this doesn’t affect India’s chances in the Champions Trophy.
(With inputs from ESPN Cricinfo.com)