India's new head coach Anil Kumble has said the question of conflict of interest will be fully addressed before he formally takes over the role. Kumble's involvement in Tenvic, a company "in the business of sports and consulting", has raised concerns around a possible conflict of interest in the past. Kumble has always denied Tenvic, which has cricketers as clients, is a talent management company.
Minutes after Kumble was announced as India's next coach, though, he tackled the conflict-of-interest question. "We [BCCI and I] have already discussed that," Kumble said. "Whatever needs to be done will be done before I take up this role officially. That has been discussed, and it has been clear with the BCCI as well. Something that can be easily resolved."
Later, when asked the same question in a separate Hindi interview, Kumble expressed displeasure at the repeated questioning around the conflict of interest. He compared it with a middle name erroneously given to him in the media during his playing days. "Whenever I am mentioned, the term conflict is added to my name," Kumble complained. "I played for 18 years. When I used to play, a middle name, Radhakrishnan, was given to me. Don't know where it came from. After I retired 'conflict' has become my middle name. I have spoken to BCCI. Whatever needs to be done we will do."
The BCCI expressed similar displeasure at being asked about the conflict of interest, but also suggested there was some action expected. "I think conflict of interest has become a very fashionable word to use," the board secretary Ajay Shirke said. "That has been completely addressed, and whatever decisions around that have been addressed prior to making this decision. There will be no conflict of interest as such before he assumes his role."
Kumble was happier talking about the prospects of the new job. He was excited at once again teaming up with four of his long-standing India team-mates from the 90s to the late 2000s. "I think it's a great thing for Indian cricket," Kumble said. "I certainly believe that the five players I played with throughout my career... Sourav [Ganguly], Sachin [Tendulkar], [VVS] Laxman are in advisory roles. Sourav in administrative role as well. Then Rahul [Dravid] in charge of the junior teams. The five of us have had a wonderful relationship off the field, and on it as well. The five of us will have to sit and see what is needed for the best interest of Indian cricket. The other stakeholders as far as cricket is concerned will come in. I am looking forward to all that."
Ganguly, Tendulkar and Laxman formed the cricket advisory committee that interviewed the 57 candidates and recommended their choice for the coach's job. Ganguly is also the chairman of the BCCI's technical committee and president of the Cricket Association of Bengal. Dravid coaches the India A and India Under-19 teams.
Kumble said it was not an easy decision to apply for the job given the travel that goes with it, but once his wife supported his decision he felt it was the right time to give back to Indian cricket. "It's a big responsibility," Kumble said. "I have seen the kind of pressure coaches have been under. They have the biggest accountability. I felt this was the right time to come back to the dressing-room environment, to be with the players, to help them prepare.
"I have plans. Both long-term and short-term. I have plans for the coming matches and series, but I can't plan alone. I will have to share my thoughts with the whole team. Will have to take their ideas too."