Clayton Murzello : The buck should stop with BCCI

Jun 22, 2017, 08:59 IST | Clayton Murzello

Head coach Anil Kumble and skipper Virat Kohli had major differences over the  last one year and will never be seen together in the Indian dressing room again
Head coach Anil Kumble and skipper Virat Kohli had major differences over the last one year and will never be seen together in the Indian dressing room again

In his long association with the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), the late Jagmohan Dalmiya brought about significant changes that put Indian cricket on the right path in on-field and financial fronts.

But, was the former BCCI chief's decision to form the Cricket Advisory Committee (CAC) comprising Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly and VVS Laxman in 2015, a masterstroke? It's something to mull over.

The CAC's first big assignment was to pick a coach when Ravi Shastri's term as Team Director expired last year. It all appeared fine before Anil Kumble decided to throw his hat in the ring for a Team India coaching position last year.

Shastri, who was a favourite to get the job, ended up losing out to Kumble. This led to a spat in the media between Shastri and Ganguly. However high profile, fair and well-intended the committee was, the fact remains that they were left to decide on a teammate who they had spent many years playing with.

Ideally, now armed with better knowledge of the fact that there could be former India players and contemporaries applying for the job, there should have been some thought on whether the CAC should consist of more members to decide on the new coach.

In my opinion, the coach selection should be done by the BCCI and the onus should be on them and not Tendulkar, Ganguly and Laxman, although they (and a few other former greats) could be consulted. It's almost as if the BCCI has washed their hands off this critical appointment.

The buck has to stop with the Board because ultimately they will be the coach's employers. And, as employers, didn't they decide on a one-year term for Kumble when, as I gather, the CAC proposed a three-year term for him? When India picked its first foreign coach, the late Raj Singh Dungarpur (who was calling the shots even though BCCI was led by AC Muthiah) ensured there was a mix of administrators and former cricketers involved in the selection process.

I remember Raj Singh telling me about a meeting held at the Cricket Club of India where he was president in 2000. Geoff Marsh at that meeting made a presentation to the BCCI, who wanted him to come in as coach. He apparently asked to be shown India's cricketing schedule for the next one year. Marsh had one look at it and declined the offer. Raj Singh, who was so impressed by Marsh's presentation, was disappointed that Australia's 1999 World Cup-winning coach wouldn't come on board. Raj Singh didn't want to undermine Muthiah's presence in the room by asking Marsh openly whether he would accept a consultancy role, so he wrote a note and passed it on to Muthiah. The note read: "AC, can he come in as a consultant?" Marsh was asked and thus became a consultant while John Wright was appointed India coach.

In the present scenario, the committee has to decide on Virender Sehwag, a coach contender with whom all three in the CAC have played. There is also Australian Tom Moody, who coaches Indian Premier League team Sunrisers Hyderabad where Laxman is a mentor. Of course, Laxman may not be around while discussing Moody, but then the Western Australian will be picked or rejected by only a two-man committee, and that does not give fairness a good name.

Meanwhile, Kumble's departure as coach is historic. No coach with such an awesome record, of not having lost a Test series, has signed off in this fashion. Kumble was a no-nonsense coach. The way he spelt out the values he brought to the table as coach indicates that some of those qualities were not in sync with the players.

He insisted that players returning from injury prove their fitness in matches. This too must not have gone down well. Of course, there are two sides to a story and maybe the players genuinely felt that the hard approach was leading to breathlessness. We can't say for sure.

So who will India's new coach be? Sehwag's candidature must be taken seriously, but would the BCCI want another big star in the dressing room? I would go for Tom Moody because he has the experience of steering an international team (Sri Lanka), has had stints with Kings XI Punjab and Sunrisers Hyderabad and who seems the type who is happy being behind the scenes.

With Kumble gone, the team will hear some new thoughts. I'm reminded of what the late Bob Woolmer told me in an interview at Dhaka in 1998 when I asked him why he was going to quit as South Africa's coach after the 1999 World Cup. He said: "The reason I don't want to be around is the excessive travelling. Also, I have the view that players should not listen to the same voice. It is always good for a team to have new ideas."

Well said, Mr Woolmer and one must say, well played Kumble too!

mid-day's group sports editor Clayton Murzello is a purist with an open stance. He tweets @ClaytonMurzello Send your feedback to mailbag@mid-day.com

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