News Analysis

A short history of India's coaches

Following Anil Kumble's resignation as India coach, ESPNcricinfo looks back at how his predecessors fared

Srinath Sripath
Ajit Wadekar was India's first full-time coach  •  George Stroud/Daily Express/Getty Images

Ajit Wadekar was India's first full-time coach  •  George Stroud/Daily Express/Getty Images

Before the 1990s, India used to be accompanied by ad hoc team managers on a tour-wise basis. Bishan Singh Bedi's appointment in 1990 signified the start of the transition from managers to having full-time coaches, with both terms being used interchangeably during his tenure. Abbas Ali Baig was next in line, accompanying India to Australia in 1991-92, after which they played the 1992 World Cup. Since then, India's senior men's teams have had a full-time coach, except in 2007 when Lalchand Rajput took charge as manager for a brief while.
Ajit Wadekar, 1992-96
Wadekar's tenure marked the decisive shift from ad hoc team managers running Indian teams on a tour-wise basis to having a full-time coach who had a longer tenure. Over his four-year tenure, Wadekar forged a strong working relationship with captain Mohammad Azharuddin, and India dominated at home for the best part of this period. For 14 Tests between 1992 and 1994, India were unbeaten, including a 3-0 whitewash of a strong touring England side. They also tasted success in limited-overs cricket, even winning multi-nation tournaments like the Hero Cup. As with most sides before them, though, they struggled to replicate this success outside the subcontinent.
Patil had been the coach of India A sides before this, and his appointment came around the time India embarked on their tour to England. It turned out to be a disastrous tour, and Patil duly got the sack at the end of it. He has gone on to have immensely successful stints with Kenya and Oman since, and was among the contenders to become India's coach as recently as last year.
Madan Lal, 1996-97
Lal succeeded Patil, his team-mate from India's 1983 World Cup-winning side, having coached the UAE side in the 1996 World Cup in the subcontinent. His tenure lasted a year, during which India beat Australia and South Africa at home across formats, before the nightmarish third Test on their tour of the West Indies, where they were bowled out for 81, chasing just 120 in the fourth innings. A few months hence, Lal's stint came to an end.
Anshuman Gaekwad, 1997-99, 2000
Gaekwad had two separate stints as India coach, taking over in the Sachin Tendulkar era where he oversaw a period of transition, and later in the middle of the match-fixing saga, after Kapil Dev's resignation, for a brief period while a permanent appointee was being finalised. Among India's high points during his tenure were the Independence Cup triumph, a 2-1 home series win against Australia, Kumble's 10-wicket haul against Pakistan to level the Test series at home, and a drawn ODI series in New Zealand. He came back at the request of the then BCCI president AC Muthiah, to take them to the final of the ICC Knockout in 2000, where they lost to the Kiwis in the final.
Kapil Dev, 1999-2000
Kapil's short reign was a turbulent one, as his Test sides were whitewashed in Australia and against South Africa at home, preceded by a successful campaign against New Zealand in the second half of 1999. Sadly, his tenure would be remembered the most for its ending, as match-fixing allegations rocked the cricketing world following a 3-2 ODI series win against South Africa. Kapil himself was accused of throwing matches by former team-mate Manoj Prabhakar, and, following extreme pressure from multiple quarters, tendered his resignation.
John Wright, 2000-05
India's first foreign coach was also among their longest serving, and in partnership with newly-appointed captain Sourav Ganguly steered Indian cricket from the depths of the match-fixing saga. For the first time in their cricketing history, India's sides tasted consistent success in unfamiliar conditions outside the subcontinent, winning Tests in England and Australia, apart from their best World Cup run since 1983, as they reached the final in South Africa. Wright's tenure will be remembered for the epic comeback against Australia in the 2001 Test series at home, and ODI and Test series wins on the tour to Pakistan in 2004. Eventually, India's form dipped, and Wright left the job, to be replaced by Greg Chappell in 2005.
Greg Chappell, 2005-07
Chappell's brief but infamous tenure as India's coach was pockmarked by his prolonged tussle which saw the ouster of Sourav Ganguly from the national side. India lost a Test series on their second tour to Pakistan in three years and came back to win the ODI series before tasting mixed results on their tour to South Africa, where they won a Test for the first time before slipping to a 2-1 series defeat. Eventually, a group-stage exit from the 2007 World Cup meant Chappell ended his association, deciding not to renew his contract with the board.
Gary Kirsten, 2007-11
Kirsten remains India's only full-time coach to have taken them to a World Cup title. His partnership with MS Dhoni, along with his insistence on developing young talent that was fast coming through from the IPL and age-group formats, meant India went from strength to strength in these four years. Under his stewardship, India drew Test series in South Africa and Sri Lanka, made it to the finals of multi-nation tournaments including the Asia Cup, and in his own words, were "desperate to achieve greatness". His hands-on approach gelled perfectly with Dhoni's insistence on leaving match preparations to the coach. Kirsten eventually left on a high - one of the few Indian coaches to do so - deciding not to renew his contract after India lifted the 2011 World Cup.
Fletcher was at the helm as India suffered their ignominious 8-0 reversal across their tours of England and Australia in 2011 and 2011-12. India also lost a home series against England, before winning the Champions Trophy in a thrilling finish against the same opponents in 2013. After another Test drubbing in England a year later, the BCCI appointed Ravi Shastri as the Team Director, to complement Fletcher in the coaching department. The duo, along with newly-appointed assistants Sanjay Bangar, B Arun and R Sridhar, oversaw a period of revival, concluding with India's semi-final run in the 2015 World Cup, after which Fletcher ended his association with Indian cricket.
Ravi Shastri, 2014-16
Shastri had taken up interim responsibilities in the past, and once again was back at the helm as the Team Director, even while Fletcher was still in charge, before taking up sole responsibility after the 2015 World Cup. During this phase, India came back from 1-0 down to win a Test series in Sri Lanka, beat South Africa 3-0 at home and in general showed consistent form across formats. The period also saw excellent results in T20s - they won the Asia Cup and beat Australia in Australia, before crashing out in the semi-final stage of the World T20 at home.
Anil Kumble, 2016-17
Kumble was a surprising appointment in some ways, ahead of Shastri, who was the other candidate in the fray. The Cricket Advisory Committee, comprising Tendulkar, Ganguly and VVS Laxman, went ahead and offered him a one-year contract as India's head coach. During this period, India won a Test series in the West Indies and defeated all comers at home, losing only one Test out of 13 while beating New Zealand, England, Bangladesh and Australia. Before the Champions Trophy this year, reports surfaced about reservations that some senior players held about Kumble's coaching style, which captain Virat Kohli was said to have described as "intimidating". It ended with Kumble tendering his resignation on Tuesday night, as arguably the most successful coach Indian cricket has seen.

Srinath Sripath is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo