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Kumble’s  exit and after

Kumble’s  exit and after

P.Sivadas, Jun 23, 2017

The departure of Anil Kumble  as coach of the Indian team soon after the Championship League final loss to Pakistan in England was a time bomb that was about to explode any moment. The relations between Kumble and Indian skipper, Virat Kohli, a highly charged and intense person, were not smooth from the beginning. Tough quiet, Kumble is an assertive person and team leader and had always fought for the players’ rights and their share of the gains that the Board of Control for Cricket for India has been raking in the past decade.
But the flash point came when Kumble insisted on some discipline from the side of the players, a contentious position always when the players are successful and charged behave like prima donnas. Kumble  also did not realize he was dealing with a generation that did not always cherish the values of an earlier generation. Successive coaches of Indian teams have faced this problem.  And this is not due to cultural differences or inadequate language skills.
The new players also do not come from urban and college backgrounds or from the royalty. Dr. Ramachandra Guha has dwelt at length on the class character of the Indian cricketers and that the first Dalit cricketer to play for the country came in the late forties. One of the prime examples of this breaking of the urban-rural divide was the successful stint of Mahendra  Singh Dhoni, a lad from Ranchi in the backward Jharkhand region.
Now, with players raking in much money by way of endorsements and sponsorships, they are no longer just players. They are supermen. This is why when such a player travels by air he gets undue preferential treatment and would not be put to the kind of treatment which the elected representatives face. The nexus between cricket stars and celebrities of the film world is also another factor.
Kumble , from another era though not as old as  Sunil Gavaskar, comes from an engineering background and like Rahul Dravid and Javagal Srinath and Venkatesh Prasad was among the elegant players of the Karnataka Ranji Trophy team moulded on the type that was exemplified by Gundappa Viswanath of an earlier era. He had brought to the game the middle class values of respect, dignity and fair play, and not the aggressive combative posturing, sledging and howling that the Australians had perfected. After one of the rough matches in Australia, Kumble, as skipper of the Indian team addressed the Press with one cryptic sentence; ‘Today only one team played cricket’. Such brevity and subtleness comes with a lot of restraint and finesse.
Kumble’s one year with the team was quite successful with the team winning  12 of the 17 games, which is a rare achievement. The credit goes  to  both the coach and the captain. But there was always friction between the two and these were kept at bay because they were riding on the wave of success. But the debacle happened at the final, and that too against Pakistan. It had to explode. That happened on the eve of the team’s tour of West Indies soon after the Championship final.
Kumble, whose original contract expired at the end of the ICC Champions Trophy was extended to oversee the team's tour of West Indies this month but stepped down citing ‘breakdown in relations with the skipper.’
" was apparent that the partnership was untenable, and I therefore believe it is best for me to move on," the 46-year-old coach tweeted.
"I believe the coach's role is like 'holding a mirror' to drive for self-improvement in the team's interest," said Kumble.  Kohli, more assertive and impatient, didn’t think that way.
Former captains were quick to jump into the fray. Sunil Gavaskar , expressive  as always, told a news channel: "So you want softies. You want somebody to just tell you, 'ok boys, don't practice today because you guys are not feeling well, ok take a holiday, go shopping'. You want that kind of a person. If any of the players are complaining, I feel those players are the ones who should be left out of the team.’ He recalled the exits of Greg Chappell, John Wright, Gary Kirsten and Duncan Fletcher.
Another former skipper Bishan Singh Bedi said he was not surprised by Kumble's decision. ‘No self-respecting person could have carried on in such an environment. Gratitude has obviously been thrown out of window by whoever is raising a 'revolt'. Bedi described it as a great loss for Indian cricket.
Both skippers said the episode would send out the wrong message as the Board of Control for Cricket in India sets about to a find a successor to Kumble.
Already burdened with many problems the coach’s selection is one issue the BCCI could have not been burdened with. Many inquiry commissions have been investigating the affairs of this richest of sports bodies, with the former Comptroller and Auditor General fully immersed in the job. Already one of the members, Mr. Ramchandra Guha having resigned from the body over many of its malfunctions.
Things would not have come to this pass if the Championship final had gone India’s way. While Kohli had been gracious to acknowledge the fine display by the Pakistanis and even flashed a rare smile, the fans had not been that sporting. Across the country, in places like Bhopal and Bareilly and, of course, some towns in Kashmir, there were bursting of firecrackers and vigilante groups and even the law enforcing personnel rounding up some of the revelers s as anti-nationals and even charging them with sedition.

For a country that is still beset with myriad problems and ‘many mutinies’, as Naipaul said, to splurge so much of money and time on such a game sometimes defies logic. But whoever said Indians are a logical people or that their priorities are rational?

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