Kumble re-applies, India's next coach before Champions Trophy ends
Anil Kumble will be in the running once again to be coach of India after he officially re-applied for the post - this despite the BCCI having said there was no need for a formal application as he would be a "direct entry" into a final pool. Kumble is part of a six-man shortlist that includes Virender Sehwag, Tom Moody, Richard Pybus, Lalchand Rajput, and Dodda Ganesh, all candidates who will be interviewed by the three-member cricket advisory committee (CAC).
Craig McDermott, the former Australian fast bowler had also sent an application but that arrived after the May 31 deadline. The CAC will assess the application and determine his eligibility for the interview.
The CAC trio of Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly and VVS Laxman is likely to meet this week - most probably Tuesday or Wednesday - to finalise the process and interview schedule. The BCCI wants to identify a candidate before the Champions Trophy ends on June 18, as India travel to the Caribbean immediately after for a limited-overs series.
Kumble's one-year contract was always due to end after the Champions Trophy, but instead of continuing a successful arrangement, the BCCI opted to advertise for fresh interviews. In large part, this is thought to be because the BCCI was concerned by player feedback on Kumble: some of the players, including the Indian captain Virat Kohli, have said they were uncomfortable with the "intimidating" style of Kumble's man management.
That has not deterred Kumble, whose application was one of the first to arrive when the application process opened on May 25. As well as his CV, Kumble has sent a detailed roadmap outlining his vision for the future of the Indian team.
The BCCI and the Committee of Administrators (CoA) told Kumble in person that fresh applications will be considered once his contract ended when they met on the eve of the IPL final in Hyderabad. That meeting, incidentally, was for Kumble to make a detailed presentation on an upgrading of the contracts of Indian players and coaching staff; it is an issue on which Kumble and Kohli are very much on the same page.
On the field, however, a widening of ways has developed in recent months, which makes the task of the CAC that much harder.
It was, after all, Tendulkar, Ganguly and Laxman who brought Kumble into the fold despite the BCCI not including him in their original shortlist the last time around. Kumble was appointed despite having no formal qualifications. And the subsequent success India has had in the last year under Kumble will only make it harder still.
But the weightiest question they will have to ponder is whether the the relationship between Kumble and Kohli is "so dysfunctional" that it cannot be salvaged and will instead be detrimental to the side. Tendulkar and Ganguly are believed to have spoken to Kohli to assess the situation, though they will not speak to Kumble until the interview. The preferred option, according to an official involved with the process, would be to not change something that isn't broken, at least results-wise.
"If the divide can be bridged, then that is the best solution because you want continuity if the team has done well for a year," the official said. "You don't need a new coach then. But it has to be something the two can work with. It cannot be a situation where the captain refuses to listen to the coach. The players will listen to the captain. What is the coach going to do then?
"We have asked the CAC to talk among themselves before they pick the best person. There are issues. Are they surmountable with the CAC getting involved and sitting down with Kohli and Kumble and sorting it out? I hope it is possible."
The new coach, whoever it is, is likely to get a two-year contract with the 2019 World Cup as a main target.
Nagraj Gollapudi is a senior assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo