Finally, the BCCI has chosen Anil Kumble as India’s coach.
This is the first time country’s top cricketers – Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly and VVS Laxman – were directly involved in selection of a coach, which certainly augurs well for the game.
This was what the Supreme Court-appointed Justice RM Lodha Committee had recommended when they wanted more cricketers be drawn into decision-making process of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI).
Kumble, who is the highest wicket-taker for India in Tests (619) besides 337 ODI wickets, was only the second cricketer ever to take 10 wickets in a Test innings and now he gets to coach the Indian cricket team.
Administratively, he, along with former India pacer Javagal Srinath, was the first international player to head a state cricket association in India, the Karnataka State Cricket Association (KSCA), before taking over as the ICC technical Committee Chairman.
Thus Kumble has an overall experience to take on one of the most crucial and critical jobs in world cricket.
He has not coached a team per se but the roles as mentor of Royal Challengers Bangalore and Mumbai Indians and his deft handling of what could have been an explosive situation in the infamous ‘Monkeygate’ certainly shows his maturity and calmness.
His own odyssey of bowling with a broken jaw in West Indies to get Brian Lara out is something more like a folklore when mind scores over matter.
One doesn’t know yet the background why his coaching tenure is for only one year. Considering we have a World Cup coming in 2019 and a host of Test series at home, it would have been better for a coach to plan out his long-term strategy for the team, such as reaching No. 1 ICC rankings across formats.
If India continues to have different captains for Tests and shorter formats, the coach will have to plan out different strategies with two different individuals – namely, Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Virat Kohli.
These are different interpersonal relationships and that needs usually time to be effective.
Communication with players is important and only after establishing strong bonding can one get down to mutually work out strategies for the team. These things take time and one wonders whether a three-year term might have been better for Kumble and the team to show results as that is why you hire a coach in the first place.
Whether Tendulkar, Ganguly and Laxman also thought of one year tenure is not clear.
But while wishing the new coach the very best for the task in hand, one must admit that Ravi Shastri did a wonderful job as Team Director, especially when the chips were down in Australia.
He transformed the team’s morale midway on an overseas tour and the team responded by playing superb cricket winning seven matches on the trot in the World Cup 2015 in Australia.
But what this appointment boils down to is the fact that Indian cricket is gradually being run more by cricketers than non-cricketers, which is certainly the away forward. Kudos to the BCCI!