Anil Kumble: Dignity Personified
Mumbai: Anil Kumble has been a thorough gentleman on and off the cricket field. He is known for his excellent leg spinners, robust common sense and a dignified demeanour.
That Kumble has to quit as national coach of Indian cricket team was written on the wall the moment the Board of Control for Indian Cricket has called for applications for the post occupied by Kumble, the former Test captain before the team under Virat Kohli left for London to play in the ICC trophy matches. Till then, May 25, Indian cricket fans were under the impression that the captain and the coach have been discussing every aspect of the game and taking appropriate decisions to benefit Indian cricket. Both of them brought laurels to India by winning five Test series against diverse teams like Australia and West Indies. They also have under their belt a one-day series and a T20 title. The only defeat was on last Sunday when India lost meekly to the traditional rival, Pakistan.
It was then that leaks and rumours started to spread saying that there was something amiss between the captain and the coach. Though Kohli denied it at the beginning, he gave enough hints that things have not bee going well between him and Kumble. But Kumble has been tight-lipped maintaining that he has no problem with any member of the team. When Kumble wrote in his farewell statement that,”the partnership has become untenable,” the cricket fans were shocked at the development. It was more so because the cricket lovers in the country love Virat Kohli and respect Anil Kumble.
The Cricket Advisory Committee comprises Sachin Tendulkar, Saurav Ganguly and VVS Laxman who are Kumble’s peers and with whom he played the game. The Advisory Committee has extended the tenure of the coach albeit with some conditions. One of the conditions put forward by the Board was that Kumble had to make up with Kohli. It was apparent that the Board was siding with Captain Kohli who made it clear that he had issues with the coach. It seems the Advisory Committee had a couple of rounds of discussions. The members also encouraged both Kumble and Kohli to sit across the table and sort out the issues. Both of them sat across the table but could not speak to each other leave alone sorting out matters.
Kumble chose to follow his heart. He has gone by his set pattern. He took his retirement from Test Cricket when his place in the team became untenable due to injury. Same way, he resigned as chairman of national cricket academy in 2011. All these decisions were taken promptly without anyone suggesting. The decisions were announced with precision and the statement released at appropriate time. His timing is impeccable. He allowed the team to leave for West Indies. Then he announced his decision to quit without much ado.
Differences cropping up between two strong individuals in cricket arena or any other area is nothing new or extraordinary. We witnessed a prolonged and ugly tussle between captain Saurav Ganguly and coach Greg Chapel. Ganguly-Chapel spat spoiled the New Zealand tour in 2005. Initially Ganguly lost his captaincy and place in the team. But he had the last laugh when after his return to the team, he saw Greg Chapel put in his papers in April 2007. It followed India’s dismal show in the World Cup matches in West Indies. While Ganguly-Chapel feud lasted for too long affecting the relations between players, the rift between Kumble and Kohli did not harm the cricket. It was at best six months old as there are reports that the two have not been talking to each other for that long. For Kumble, the period of agony lasted just four weeks.
The Kumble-Kohli spat also proves historian Ramachandra Guha’s contention that the superstar culture prevailing in Indian cricket is harmful to the game.