Is trouble brewing in the Indian team between coach Anil Kumble and senior players led by captain Virat Kohli? Sources say Kohli and some other players aren’t happy with Kumble’s way of guiding the team.
The news comes at a time when India is preparing to take on Pakistan in its opening match of the Champions trophy on June 4. Indian cricket’s Big Three – BCCI’s advisory panel of Sourav Ganguly, Sachin Tendulkar and VVS Laxman – will now be expected to broker peace between Kumble and Kohli’s men. The advisory committee has been entrusted with the job of naming the next India coach. Kumble was considered the front-runner for an extension till the 2019 World Cup, with Team India having won everything under him in the past one year. So, what has suddenly gone wrong?
It is believed that Kumble being a ‘hard task-master’ has not gone down well with the seniors. There is no serious crisis as yet, but sources say players were happier with Ravi Shastri’s style of working.
It is understood that Vinod Rai, chairman of the Supreme Court-appointed Committee of Administrators (CoA), is likely to meet the three-member panel to discuss the issue.
Sources said Kohli had a word with Ganguly after the practice game against New Zealand on Sunday and may have discussed the issue at length.
It is learnt that a certain section of BCCI was in favour of extending Kumble’s contract earlier, but a board functionary told them that Kohli was not comfortable with the idea of working with Kumble on a long term basis.
Kumble’s contract was ending after the Champions Trophy and the board went ahead with the process of finding the coach rather than give Kumble a contract extension. Of course, Kumble has been automatically made a part of the process.
“With the CoA not involved in the day-to-day working of the team, the responsibility of naming the new head coach is entrusted to the three-member panel. Neither the CoA not the board officials will be part of this process,” a source in the know said.
Virender Sehwag was reportedly asked to apply but refused. The focus shifted to Ravi Shastri, but he has also not shown interest in applying for the top job. Sources say Australia’s Tom Moody could be a possible applicant again, but a section in BCCI wants Rahul Dravid to apply for the job. There is, however, no development on that front either.
Hence, the CoA has asked the advisory panel to sort out differences between the coach and the players.
The question being raised in cricket circles is: What is wrong with Kumble’s method? Sources say Kohli and Kumble had a difference of opinion over several issues related to the playing XI during the India-Australia series.
In the last Test in Dharamshala, which India won, Kumble had strongly backed the inclusion of chinaman bowler Kuldeep Yadav in place of the injured Kohli. Sources say Kohli was unaware it and was caught by surprise.
Kohli, who now captains the team in all formats and has emerged more powerful than ever, had wanted Shastri to continue, but the board did not pay heed to his request. The top BCCI management could have ignored Kohli’s concerns again, but other senior cricketers in the team say the ‘feel good factor’ is missing under Kumble.