Anil Kumble has stepped down as head coach of India’s men’s team ahead of the forthcoming limited-overs series against West Indies. It is learnt that Kumble, whose one-year contract expired on Sunday (June 18) at the end of the Champions Trophy, opted against a contract extension despite having been given that option.
With Kumble’s contract running down, on May 25, BCCI invited applications for the head coach’s role for the senior men’s side. However, the board clarified that the legendary spinner would get a “direct entry for the process” owing to his largely successful tenure. In the build up to the Champions Trophy, rumours of a rift between the Kumble and Indian captain Virat Kohli surfaced and is widely believed to be the reason for his decision to drop out of the race. According to a feedback on Kumble’s tenure, Kohli and some other cricketers, are said to have been discomforted by Kumble’s “intimidating” style of management.
However, despite the uncertainty around the issue, Kumble was expected to stay on in his role for the tour of West Indies and until the Cricket Advisory Committee (CAC) handed its recommendation to the BCCI after conducting another round of interviews with the fresh set of applicants.
It is understood that the committee comprising Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly and VVS Laxman felt that Kumble remained the top choice to take the team forward. However, it also deemed that the stand-off between Kohli and Kumble was no longer resolvable. On Monday, Kohli met BCCI secretary Amitabh Choudhary, CEO Rahul Johri to explain his stance before departing to the Caribbean. Kumble stayed back in London to attend the ICC’s Chief Executives Committee meeting.
“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,” BCCI stated in a media release.
Confirming the development, Choudhary said: “We wish to place on record our sincere appreciation for the immense contribution by Anil Kumble to the team which enabled India to attain the No.1 Test position. Indian cricket needs his continued contribution in various capacities and wishes him all the best in his future endeavour.”
Kumble, 46, was appointed head coach of the side in June 2016 by the former BCCI administration led by Anurag Thakur and secretary Ajay Shirke, based on the recommendation of the CAC. Despite having no prior coaching experience, Kumble pipped former team director Ravi Shastri and 20 other candidates to the top spot after putting together a presentation highlighting his vision and roadmap for Indian cricket.
In his first assignment as coach, India completed a Test series victory in West Indies. Under him, India won 10 of the 13 Tests in their home season, rising to the top spot in the rankings. India also registered ODI series wins over New Zealand and England, with reverses coming only in a T20I series against West Indies in USA and at last week’s Champions Trophy, where India were beaten by Pakistan in the final.
In the interim, BCCI has deputed MV Sridhar, General Manager of Cricket Operations, to supervise the team management for the West Indies series. Sanjay Bangar, Batting Coach and R. Sridhar, Fielding Coach, will continue their assignments.
Meanwhile, the board will continue to seek the assistance of CAC in its search for a new head coach.
The CAC will potentially have to recommend one nominee from the other five applicants – Virender Sehwag, Tom Moody, Richard Pybus, Lalchand Rajput or Dodda Ganesh before the BCCI-CoA committee takes the final call. Ravi Shastri, with whom Kohli shares an excellent working relationship, could also join the race given his familiarity with most of the current batch of India’s cricketers.