Did Anil Kumble bat for pay hike to please Virat Kohli and Co?
Virat Kohli with then coach Anil Kumble in Hyderabad recently. Pic/ AFP
Indian cricket reels under the Virat Kohli-Anil Kumble feud, which gets murkier by the day.
After Kumble’s exit note in which he listed what he brought to the table (professionalism, discipline, commitment, honesty, complementary skills and diverse views), Kohli’s first press conference in the West Indies was expected to be a significant one and in a way, he hinted that Kumble did not restore the sanctity of the dressing room.
Keeping things within those four walls is an unwritten code, which all players and support staff adhere to. It helps build trust, which is so vital in building team spirit and team bonding. The media reported that Kumble created a Whatsapp group to interact with his media friends on what was happening in the team. Now, if this is true, then he betrayed the trust of his team.
I credit Kohli for maintaining silence and not washing dirty linen in the media. He put things in perspective when asked about the differences during the Champions Trophy by underlining that there will be differences, but there was nothing more than that.
More recently, we read about Kohli and Kumble not being on talking terms for the last six months and were also reluctant to speak at a meeting in London in the presence of BCCI officials. It makes me wonder how come Kumble asked for a big raise in his salary when he was not speaking to the captain. Despite this dispute, Team India performed excellently, winning back-to-back series to become the World No. 1 Test team. How come Kumble is given credit for the team’s performance during that period and why did he ask for raise for his players and an extra hike for his captain? It seems Kumble wanted to please the players and captain to bury the conflict and move on with the BCCI footing the bill. I do believe they deserve a bonus for team performance and Kumble must have done some good work, but we must remember that the development of players in the team is a combined effort of all coaches who worked with them at first-class cricket and at the National Cricket Academy, a brainchild of late Raj Singh Dungarpur, an out an out visionary.
At the international level, the coach’s role comes down to strategy and tactics of the team as well as that of the individuals. There is enough manpower to supply all information needed, but the major work is that of man management. Hence, Kumble’s performance as head coach should be assessed in accordance to the role that he played in enhancing team’s performance.
In performing his role, the process employed by him to pull some of the players out of their comfort zone and complacency, could have led to conflict. Blaming him for being high-handed and hard taskmaster by these players is unfair.
Indian coaches should learn from their foreign counterparts who work in this country. They are smart and learn quickly the meaning of the song from the Hindi movie Safar -- "Jo tumko ho pasand wohi baat karengay, tum din ko agar raat kaho, raat kahengay. This is a successful formula in Indian cricket to avoid such conflicts. Unfortunately, it seems Kumble did not watch Safar and hence suffered.