It’s no secret that former India captain Virat Kohli and the legendary Anil Kumble shared a frosty relationship during the latter’s stint with the national team as its head coach. The ill-fated spell ended with Kumble’s resignation in 2017, just a year after his appointment, with the former India spinner saying that the partnership with captain Kohli became ‘untenable’.
Vinod Rai, who headed the Committee of Administrators (CoA), that ran Indian cricket for nearly three years, has thrown light on the captain-coach rift saga in his book Not Just a Nightwatchman — My Innings in the BCCI.
Rai writes that it Kumble was regarded as ‘too much of a disciplinarian’ and that the younger players in the squad felt ‘intimidated’ by his style.
“In my conversations with the captain and team management, it was conveyed that Kumble was too much of a disciplinarian and hence the team members were not too happy with him. I had spoken to Virat Kohli on the issue and he did mention that the younger members of the team felt intimidated by the way he worked with them,” Rai was quoted as saying in excerpts published by The Indian Express.
Rai said Kumble, in turn, felt unfairly treated and that the celebrated spinner’s views should have been respected.
“We had long conversations with Kumble after he had returned from the UK. He was obviously upset about the manner in which the entire episode had panned out. He felt he had been unfairly treated and a captain or team should not be given so much importance. It was the duty of the coach to bring discipline and professionalism into the team and as a senior, his views should have been respected by the players,” Rai was quoted as writing.
The Cricket Advisory Committee comprising Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly and VVAS Laxman spoke with Kumble and Kolhi during the 2017 ICC Champions Trophy in England to resolve their differences.
“They felt that the differences were fairly severe and maybe it was only the CAC that would be best suited to have a thorough discussion with both of them. Soon, the CAC met in London and interacted with the two separately, in a bid to resolve the issue. After deliberations over three days, they decided to recommend Kumble’s reappointment as the head coach,” Rai wrote.
However, Kumble resigned despite the recommendation, expressing his surprise that the “captain has reservations with my ‘style’ and about my continuing as Head Coach.”