Kumble-Kohli tiff has left a sour taste

It is unfortunate that veteran cricketer Anil Kumble has resigned as chief coach of the Indian cricket team due to differences with captain Virat Kohli. Kumble’s tweet that his partnership (with Kohli) was untenable and in the circumstances he thought it fit to move on is eloquent testimony to the ego clash between the two cricketing bigwigs. Individually, while Kumble was an outstanding cricketer in his time and Kohli currently is a cricketing gem, they were unable to gel well.

The crunch came as a result of the sharp differences in approach between the two. Reports say that while the prestigious Champions Trophy tournament was on in which India finally caved in to arch-rivals Pakistan, the two hardly talked with each other. That must surely have affected the performance and morale of the Indian team. The parting of ways came on Monday night when Kumble and Kohli met separately the secretary of the Board of Control for Cricket in India Amitabh Choudhary, CEO Rahul Johri and general manager (cricket operations) M.V. Sridhar. Earlier, veterans Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly, and Laxman had failed to resolve the differences.

There cannot be two opinions that in the circumstances, it was prudent for Kumble to bow out. Even the BCCI had kept Kumble on tenterhooks confirming him only until the end of the upcoming West Indies series. The honourable course for him was to quit as chief coach and by doing so he allowed Kohli a free hand that he wanted. It is now for Kohli and his team to prove that they are up to the challenge. It cannot be denied that Kumble’s record as chief coach was impeccable with 12 wins out of 17 Tests played under him, four draws and one defeat, 8 wins in one-day internationals out of 13 played with five losses and two wins, two losses and one draw in T20s. But the real test of mettle is when the team plays abroad. The wins under Kumble’s coaching were mostly on domestic pitches.

All said and done, an unpleasant chapter has ended. It is inconsequential now whether Kumble was ‘overbearing’ or Kohli was unduly arrogant and sensitive. The fact is that they both needed to drown their differences and work together in the interests of the country and of cricket which is a passion in India but both chose to go with their egos. All eyes will now be on the selection process for the new chief coach as also on Kohli’s captaincy skills. The captain and the chief coach have to work closely together and there can be no compromise on this basic requirement in future.

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