Indian Cricket needs Anil Kumble in the Dressing Room

 Mithileysh Sathiyanarayanan is an England National Cricket League (NCL) player and a cricket enthusiast

London: It’s nigh impossible to reconcile ourselves to the rift between the coach, Anil Kumble, and the national cricket team. Kumble has stepped down as India’s cricket coach. In fact, Anil Kumble’s one-year contract had come to terms at the end of the Champions Trophy and the BCCI along with the CAC had asked him to continue as Head Coach for the West Indies tour. The BCCI attempted to resolve the misunderstandings between Kumble and Kohli, but the former feels the partnership was `untenable’, and therefore he believes it is best for him to move on. Indian cricket needs Anil Kumble in the dressing room as his enviable presence will always make a marked difference. It is unfortunate that the Indian cricket will sorely miss his presence.

The partnership that ended after a successful stint

The partnership that ended after a successful stint

India had Leviathan coaches like Greg Chappell, who saw their teams as extensions of their will, asked for trouble and invariably got it. Neither were the players treated well nor their opinions respected. The variance between Chappell and the team was felt at various junctures during his tenure as a coach.

Let us recollect the grief-stricken incident that happened 10 years down the line – the batting line-ups and the team structure were changed by Chappell a month ahead of the 2007 ICC World Cup, when India had suffered a horrifying exit from the group stages after losing to Bangladesh and Sri Lanka.

In contrast, Anil Kumble was part of the Indian cricket team for almost 17 years and the vast playing experience makes up for his lack of prior coaching experience (although he did mentor Royal Challengers Bangalore and Mumbai Indians). Kumble has also served in administrative roles for four years since his retirement – president of the Karnataka State Cricket Association (KSCA), chairman of the National Cricket Academy (NCA) and also head of the BCCI’s technical committee. For almost four years, Kumble served as the Chairman of the ICC Cricket Committee, the body that makes key policy recommendations on the game to the Council’s Directors. So he not only understands the game but also the whole process of decision-making. 

Kumble as a Player

Kumble’s tenacity was witnessed during his playing days and he has always been deemed as one of the calmest minds, a great team-player, a strong leader and the most aggressive player of his generation. As a player, Anil Kumble has been a combative force and an inspirational cricketer. He has taken wickets all over the world. He knows what it takes to win test matches overseas. He is a humble person who had a very good relationship with all the senior and junior members of the teams he played cricket with.

With his IPL experience, he has the ability to connect with the current generation of players, communicate well with all the players, and bring a fresh perspective to the cricket team across all the three different formats.

Having played in various countries in various conditions, he has the aptitude to impart all his knowledge to the players. He has a vision for Indian cricket and has the acumen and caliber to take the Indian Cricket Team to number one position in the world scenario.

Commitment and dedication during his playing days

We are all conversant with his wicket-taking abilities and his match-winning predilection. His extraordinary ten-wicket haul is part of cricketing folklore. However, his undeniable grit is what made him stand out. Dotingly nicknamed ‘Jumbo’, Kumble suffered from a dislocated jaw in a test at Antigua against West Indies in 2002. Ganguly was the captain and he used all possible tactics in the game when he bowled all his 10 players (including the wicketkeeper Ajay Ratra and Rahul Dravid) except Anil Kumble.

Watching the scene from his dressing room, Kumble made known his desire to play to Andrew Leipus, the then physiotherapist who refused immediately as Kumble had a fractured jaw and had spat blood on the pitch after a Mervyn Dillon bouncer had struck him. Kumble was however persistent in his demand to bowl and help India win the match.

A jubilant Kumble after getting Lara out

Leipus unwillingly removed the ice pack placed around Kumble’s face and tied a bandage around his jaw to ease his pain while bowling. With his exceptional bowling abilities, Kumble ousted the dangerous Brian Lara and India managed to salvage a draw. Viv Richards later said to the reporters, “It was one of the bravest things I’ve seen on the field of play”.

Even at the fag end of his illustrious career, his calm demeanour and composure as India’s Test captain, especially in the wake of the Monkeygate scandal in 2007-08, is still lauded by all.

Kumble as a Coach

Kumble extended his coaching and mentorship for the IPL franchise Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) for two years and then mentored Mumbai Indians (MI) for three years with an incredible success rate. He helped the franchises shape the entire team and was instrumental in maneuvering a unique sense of passion and commitment. Based on his cricketing expertise, last year he was appointed as the Head Coach of the Indian Cricket Team by BCCI for a period of one year.

Kumble working with the next generation of Indian Cricket

His tremendous success with the Indian team is apparent and perceptible to those keen cricket lovers. In the last one year, under Kumble’s guidance, India won everything there was to win – which included five Test series, a one-day series and a T20 series — winning Test series in the West Indies before winning at home against New Zealand, England, Bangladesh and Australia. Also, India made it to the finals of the ICC Champions Trophy 2017 in England before losing it to the arch-rivals Pakistan. Overall, a good success rate but Kumble has reportedly stepped down as India’s cricket coach due to untenable relationship between him and Virat Kohli.

This sad ending of Anil Kumble raises the question “Who is going to be the next coach of the Indian cricket team?” – a very interesting segment indeed!

Author’s Take

Kumble is the greatest bowler in the history of Indian cricket-he not only holds the record of being the highest Indian wicket-taker in both Tests as well as ODIs but is also considered a highly respected sportsman the world over for his enormous experience and cricketing intelligence. Kumble, a former captain, who stands tall in composure, is the only person who has the requisite traits to solidify India as a powerhouse across the formats such that team spirit and fighting spirit in the team are superbly blended, which we have seen in his one-year tenure as a coach. We all have heard stories of his dedication, commitment, courage and wit, but above all he is someone who understands cricket very well and is perfectly suitable for coaching. We all know, Anil Kumble’s enviable presence will certainly make a marked difference in the Indian cricket team dressing room but his decision to step down is a big loss for the BCCI and the whole of India.

All hail Anil Kumble, an incomparable veteran in the formidable cricket arena. His professionalism, discipline, commitment, honesty, complementary skills and diverse views are the key traits Anil Kumble bring to the table, as mentioned in his resignation letter. These need to be valued for the partnership between the coach and the captain to be effective – neither the captain cannot have reservations with the coaching style nor dictate terms to this extent. Debriefings and giving “dressing-down” are part of the coach’s job and it was natural for Kumble to have been disappointed after the crushing defeat against the arch-rivals Pakistan. There should be cordial relationship between coach, captain and other players in the dressing room. We need an inspirational persona as a coach with good man-management skills; hence the responsibility for running a harmonious dressing room with oodles of success rests with him.

We all know bad blood between Kumble, Kohli and the players has left a bad taste in the mouths of the cricketing fraternity. This dispute itself cost us the Champions trophy which will be remembered for years to come. Kohli had the veto power on the coaching style which pushed Kumble out of the team. Now that he has his way, he has to ensure that the team has to deliver the goods under him, else the skipper will be next on the firing line. To send the right message across to the future incoming coach, BCCI must not be encouraging this Superstar Culture in the Indian dressing room. The Indian cricket team is nobody’s fiefdom. Kumble is now lost to the Indian team but it is high time Kohli is tamed down and improved on his man-management skills or things will keep getting worse.

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are the personal opinions of the author. The facts and opinions appearing in the article do not reflect the views of Cricket 361 which does not accept any responsibility or liability for the same.

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