Kumble resigns as partnership with Kohli becomes 'untenable'
Hours after resigning as India coach, Anil Kumble has said he was "informed for the first time yesterday [Monday] by the BCCI that the captain had reservations with my style and about my continuing as head coach". While stating that the cricket advisory committee (CAC) charged with deciding on who will be coach had backed him for the job, Kumble said "it was apparent the partnership [with Virat Kohli] was untenable, and I therefore believe it is best for me to move on".
Kumble stepped down as coach four days before the limited-overs tour of the Caribbean begins, even as the team was mid-flight to the West Indies. Kumble had remained in London after the Champions Trophy which ended on Sunday; as chairman of the ICC's cricket committee, he will be attending the chief executives committee meeting there.
Two days before the Champions Trophy had kicked off in England, it emerged in the media that India captain Kohli had told BCCI officials that some players were uncomfortable with the "intimidating" style of Kumble's man management. As a result, despite India's success in Kumble's year in charge, during which the team climbed to No.1 in the Test rankings, the board advertised for fresh interviews for the head coach's position instead of extending his contract.
Kumble, whose original contract ran till the end of the Champions Trophy, had already reapplied for the job and only last week accepted the BCCI's offer to extend his contract to include the West Indies series. However, Kumble said, in light of the reservations he came to know about through the board, he could not continue.
It is understood that, on Monday, before Kohli departed for the West Indies, he met the BCCI's top brass in London, as did Kumble in a separate meeting. The meetings were attended by BCCI secretary Amitabh Choudhary, board chief executive officer Rahul Johri and MV Sridhar, general manager of cricket operations. The meetings were necessitated after the three-member CAC, comprising Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly and VVS Laxman, informed the BCCI that it had failed to resolve the impasse between Kohli and Kumble.
The BCCI had received six applications including that of Kumble for the fresh interview process. But, considering it was the CAC that had recommended and shortlisted Kumble as the final choice last year, it still felt he remained the first choice for the head coach position going forward. However, given the current relations, it is understood that the CAC did not meet Kumble at all after it was asked by the BCCI to make the final decision.
Kumble confirmed he had the CAC's backing in his statement, which began thus: "I am honoured by the confidence reposed in me by the CAC, in asking me to continue as head coach."
The BCCI was left not much choice other than accepting Kumble's resignation, given that the efforts of board officials, the CAC and the Committee of Administrators had failed to bridge the divide between Kohli and Kumble. Officials well versed with the meetings with Kohli realised that the differences with Kumble could not be "resolved" and the relationship could not be "sustained". "The differences seem irreparable," a board official, who is privy to the discussions, said. He said that Kohli was not ready to take a step back.
Once the CAC realised the relationship was beyond repair, it asked the BCCI to take the negotiation process forward. "It was not a pleasant meeting," the board official, who has knowledge of Monday's meetings, said. According to this official, Kohli remained "adamant" about his stand, which might have helped Kumble make up his mind.
"The CAC is likely to have told BCCI that the differences were not cricketing related but more of a personal nature," the official said. "If he were to stick on, it would be very awkward on Anil's part. It is not good to handle someone as big as Anil in this manner."
The BCCI said that MV Sridhar will travel to the Caribbean to "supervise the team management", while batting coach Sanjay Bangar and fielding coach R Sridhar will continue in their roles.
Besides Kumble, the other people who had applied for the India coach job were former India opener Virender Sehwag, former Australia allrounder Tom Moody, former Pakistan coach Richard Pybus, former India medium pacer Dodda Ganesh, and former India A and current Afghanistan coach Lalchand Rajput.
Nagraj Gollapudi is a senior assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo