The legendary cricketer and gentleman of the modern game, Anil Kumble, surprised everyone when he wrote to the BCCI on Tuesday that he wasn’t interested in the job of head coach of the senior men’s team. Before his year-long contract as head coach was to end with the Champions Trophy in London, he had applied to be considered for the job again, throwing his hat into the ring along with several other well-known former players.
He did so, although it was no secret that his relations with skipper Virat Kohli and several players were not good. He was seen as a hard old school taskmaster, but he perhaps felt there was enough functionality in the equation and the situation wasn’t irretrievable. Or perhaps he didn’t want to easily let go of the handsome compensation package.
It’s therefore a mystery why Mr Kumble suddenly chose to call it a day. Was he nudged? Was he informally told by the BCCI bosses that they had decided on someone else and it might be more dignified for him to give the appearance of exiting of his own accord? We don’t know the answers. But it is plain that a successful captain, who is an international batting star, is in a position to dictate who the coach should be even if he lost the trophy he was expected to win last Sunday. Such a captain also has enough clout with the cricket administrators, and easily influences players — in this case against the head coach.
The question now arises if a coach is needed at all, specially one of such great distinction as Mr Kumble and one whose record in the past year has been the best for any coach in our cricketing history. Eminent former players who have offered themselves for selection might be wise to learn from the Kumble-Kohli affair. Or will the lure of a hefty package be too powerful to overlook?
Internationally, there have been many instances of captains losing their verve in the middle of a series and performing poorly when they had everything going for them. A coach of reputation and proven cricketing worth can perform an important role in motivating the side and the key individuals in it. But this is not an everyday scenario.
In fact, we are in a media and image-driven era when successful individuals in any field attain stardom and become super-rich almost overnight. If they are young, there is a chance they might display brat behaviour. To cut through this circuit, perhaps the coach system is misplaced these days. A nondescript manager to represent the cricket administration when the team travels might be sufficient. If we think that demigods are needed, this may be a practical way out....