Anil Kumble has stepped down as India coach, four days before the limited-overs tour of the Caribbean begins.
The decision comes less than a month after it emerged that players, including captain Virat Kohli, had told BCCI officials that they were uncomfortable with the “intimidating” style of Kumble’s man management. As a result, despite India’s success in Kumble’s year in charge, during which the team climbed to No.1 in the Test rankings, the board advertised for fresh interviews for the head-coach’s position instead of extending his contract.
The timing of Kumble’s decision was striking: he decided to resign even as the Indian squad was mid-flight to the Caribbean, where the first of five ODIs is on June 23. While the squad flew out early on Monday morning, Kumble stayed back in London. As chairman of the ICC’s cricket committee, he is attending the chief executives committee meeting in London.
Incidentally, Kumble had already reapplied for the job and only last week accepted the BCCI’s offer to extend his contract to include the West Indies series. His original contract ran till the end of the Champions Trophy.
The BCCI confirmed the development through a media release, stating that Kumble had “withdrawn his services”, but it did not offer any specific reasons.
It is understood that, on Monday, before Kohli departed for the West Indies, he met the BCCI’s top brass along with Kumble in London. The meeting was attended by BCCI secretary Amitabh Choudhary, board chief executive officer Rahul Johri and MV Sridhar, general manager of cricket operations. The meeting was necessitated after the three-member cricket advisory committee (CAC), charged with finalising who will be coach, informed the BCCI that it had failed to resolve the impasse between Kohli and Kumble.
The BCCI had received six applications including that of Kumble for the fresh interview process. But, considering it was the CAC – comprising Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly and VVS Laxman – that had recommended and shortlisted Kumble as the final choice last year, it still felt he remained the first choice for the head-coach position going forward. However, given the current relations, it is understood that the CAC did not meet Kumble at all after it was asked by the BCCI to make the final decision.
“While the Cricket Advisory Committee had endorsed an extension to his tenure as head coach, Mr Anil Kumble has decided not to continue as the coach,” the BCCI’s statement said.
The BCCI was left not much choice other than accepting Kumble’s resignation, given in the long term his position was no longer tenable despite the efforts of board officials, the CAC and the Committee of Administrators to bridge the divide between Kohli and Kumble. Officials well versed with the meetings with Kohli realised that the differences with Kumble could not be “resolved” and the relationship could not be “sustained”. “The differences seem irreparable,” a board official, who is privy to the discussions, said. He said that Kohli was not ready to take a step back.
Once the CAC realised the relationship was beyond repair, it asked the BCCI to take the negotiations process forward. “It was not a pleasant meeting,” the board official, who has knowledge of Monday’s meeting, said. According to this official Kohli remained “adamant” about his stand, which might have helped Kumble make up his mind.
“The CAC is likely to have told BCCI that the differences were not cricketing related but more of a personal nature,” the official said. “If he were to stick on, it would be very awkward on Anil’s part. It is not good to handle someone as big as Anil in this manner.”
The BCCI said that MV Sridhar, the board’s general manager of cricket operations, will travel to the Carribean to “supervise the team management”, while batting coach Sanjay Bangar and fielding coach R Sridhar will continue in their roles.
Besides Kumble, the other people who had applied for the India coach job were former India opener Virender Sehwag, former Australia allrounder Tom Moody, former Pakistan coach Richard Pybus, former India medium-pacer Dodda Ganesh, and former India-A coach Lalchand Rajput.
Nagraj Gollapudi is a senior assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo
ESPN Sports Media Ltd.