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An autopsy of an untimely demise of Anil Kumble’s coaching career

This date will certainly remain an unfortunate spike in the timeline of Indian cricket.

India head coach Anil Kumble
India head coach Anil Kumble. (Photo by Mike Egerton/PA Images via Getty Images)

So that happened. Anil Kumble will no more be traveling with the Indian Cricket Team as its head coach, and his resignation comes at an untimely juncture. Indeed Kumble’s contract was due to expire after the ICC Champions Trophy, and following a decision by the BCCI, it was extended by a month until the end of India’s tour to the Caribbean.

Hence, his resignation shouldn’t come as a surprise to most. However, the prequel to his announcement on Thursday raises questions over the BCCI’s work ethic, and whether Kumble stepped down to avoid any further humiliations.

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The Indian team enjoyed a year of considerable success under the tutelage of the former leg-spinner. While Kumble was the coach, Team India’s most spectacular achievement was at the Test level, where they maintained a win percentage of 70.59. India played 17 Tests, won as many as 12, drew 4, and lost just 1, which was the shocking defeat at Pune at the hands of the Australians.

In the one-dayers, the win percentage decreases a tad bit to 61.54. From 13 ODIs played with Anil Kumble at the helm, India won 8 and lost 5. Furthermore, India played 5 T20Is during Kumble’s tenure, winning 2 and losing 2, while 1 was washed out. As result, the win percentage drops to 40.

The BCCI didn’t have much to complain about Kumble’s record as a coach. He clearly brought the desired results, which further established India’s dominance in the sport of late. The Indian Cricket Team savored their stay at the No.1 Test ranking, with Virat Kohli proudly holding the mace becoming a familiar sight.

Meanwhile, they also managed to bag four consecutive Test series victories, a feat never achieved before by any cricket team. Most recently, India sailed into the final of the ICC Champions Trophy but ended up on the losing side.

The source of Kumble’s problems

The problems came knocking on the doors of Indian cricket when reports of a rift between skipper Virat Kohli and Anil Kumble began making the rounds. Soon, a cloud of doubt began to hover over Kumble’s stint as coach of the Indian Team and duly followed him with the supposed feud finding no immediate solution.

Of late, Virat Kohli has communicated his ‘strong reservations’ regarding Kumble hanging on as coach. “Kohli is very clear about where he stands vis-a-vis Kumble. It seems the relationship is beyond the repair stage,” a BCCI source was quoted as saying. Let’s face it, Kohli wasn’t going to go anywhere; if there was anyone who’d have to call it quits, it would be Anil Kumble.

To quote Harsha Bhogle, “…if there is a falling out between captain and coach, the captain will have his way.” And quite understandably, Kumble said goodbye.

Anil Kumble vs BCCI

As far as the BCCI is concerned, their reason to dislike Anil Kumble in the first place was perhaps his demand for a massive hike in salary. As per his demands, Kumble expected Rs. 7.5 crore to fatten his bank balance. Obviously, this wasn’t well received by the BCCI, and so the wars began.

Although Anil Kumble’s days as head coach were numbered, the BCCI graciously gave him an automatic entry into the list of applicants for the job. Kumble thus reapplied for the position of head coach and also accepted the BCCI’s offer to extend his contract to include the Windies series. The board also made it clear that the new coach, regardless of whether it is Kumble or another individual, would be in charge until the end of the 2019 world cup.

Kumble’s revised pay structure

Kumble duly presented a plan for the next world cup and shared how he envisaged the progress of the Indian team over the next two years. Moreover, he worked out a revised salary structure for both the coach as well as the players. Anil Kumble seemed to have taken note of the salary structures followed by Cricket Australia and England and Wales Cricket Board and accordingly, worked out a fair formula for the Indian team.

In addition, he also asked for a 150 percent hike in retainer-ship fees for Grade A players. Those fees for contracted players by the BCCI had been doubled in March, with seven Grade A cricketers now getting Rs 2 crore each per year.  However, along with endorsement money, match fees and revenue share, a Grade A player could get as much as Rs 10 crore if Kumble’s demands were accepted by the CoA.

An unfortunate turn of events

All said and done, those plans will probably not see the daylight, certainly not under Kumble’s supervision. On the other hand, the BCCI are likely to stick to their original pay structure, thus shoving a revamp under the carpet. Kumble’s departure pained some, amongst who Harsha Bhogle was one of the first to speak out.

“If it is true that @anilkumble1074 has stepped down as coach, Indian cricket has let itself lose an outstanding resource. Organizations must strive to preserve committed people. I will be disappointed if there isn’t a bigger role for @anilkumble1074,” he said on Twitter.

While the Indian squad flew out early on Monday morning after their Champions Trophy campaign, Kumble stayed back in London. He decided to resign even as the squad was mid-flight to the Caribbean, where the first of five ODIs is on June 23. Certainly, his decision gives us reasons to believe that there was something murky within the BCCI.

Apparently, players were uncomfortable with his ‘intimidating’ style of management. Or perhaps the board officials just didn’t like the man. In all fairness, one might ask why a captain has such a big say in deciding whether a successful coach can stay on or not.

Kumble’s track record remains without a blemish, thus on what grounds is he being removed exactly? While we wait for someone to furnish answers to these questions, we can be sure that this date will remain an unfortunate spike in the timeline of Indian cricket.

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