In an era when narratives get flipped in the blink of an eye, like it were the easiest craft to execute, the exit of a certain Anil Kumble, who promised to motor the Indian cricket forward, forces you to pause, think and analyze how the development is a result of more than just what has been perceived and discussed in the media.
That Virat Kohli is a pretty chapter to have unfolded of late in the Indian cricket, that he has the ability to single-handedly catapult Indian cricket into uncharted territories cannot be contested. But the fact that he might have dented his clean slate, by not willing to relent in a conflict that had the undertones of Chappell-era, does not augur well for a team that has the potential to conquer the world in a couple of years from now.
At the end of it all, Kumble is gone. Doing what any sane cricketer with a legacy to preserve would have. As a reader you are free to conclude that Jumbo’s personal ego overpowered the willingness to see India grow in cricket. But to what extent does the Indian cricket remain a collective representation of the general conscience of the populace is debatable: hence you have to give it to Kumble.
Kohli, on the other hand, kept mum and like someone itching to take a moral high ground refused to comment while maintaining that he had high respect for ‘Anil Bhai’. From a neutral point of view: that was sensible. 20 years down the line when he comes up with an autobiography, the story will sell but for now, the recipe would have only left a bitter aftertaste.
Amid all this, there is a man back in the picture. The man with a booming voice who announced how ‘Dhoni had finished it off in style.’ Ravi Shastri had always been around the team.
His role as a commentator and presenter kept him in the circle and to top things he shared good ‘camaraderie’ with the team, particularly the captain. For all his extroversion which can – at times – be unbecoming of a coach, whose job demands him to be secretive in the interest of the team, Shastri’s tenure as the director of the Indian team was fruitful.
The aggression that Ravi Shastri brought to the table was apparent in Australia, where Kohli’s maiden – albeit abrupt – captaincy assignment, saw India ‘give it to back’ to the Aussies.
But once the tenure was over, the BCCI sought fresh applications, Ravi Shastri was one of the applicants and it was all hunky dory until then. The new captain was expected to have a say in front of the Cricket Advisory Committee (CAC) bestowed with the job to select the new coach. But then tables turned. Kumble applied!Anyone who followed cricket in 90s and then for the next decade would know what Kumble was to the Indian team. Not just as a player but as a role model. The committee comprising of Sourav Ganguly, Sachin Tendulkar and VVS Laxman could not overlook Kumble’s application and offered him the coveted post his lack of coaching experience notwithstanding.
Ravi Shastri could not digest it. There were rumours that he was furious as the committee did not even pay heed to his application and Ganguly attended the interview via video conferencing. The cribbing game ensued.
Kumble joined as the coach, Kohli tweeted in welcome – only to delete it a year later, this boy! – and India started winning. Things started looking bright.
Out of nowhere – and on completely unexpected lines – rumours of rift between Kohli and Kumble started doing rounds ahead of the Champions Trophy. While Kohli brushed them aside, Kumble’s resignation followed by did not leave much room to speculate. The hunt for the new man started again, many including a few foreign names applied. Sehwag too was asked to throw his hat in the ring and one fine day the BCCI ended up extending the deadline for applications, a couple of days later Ravi Shastri applied again.
If you join the dots, there is not much left to assume. Kohli, for all his aggression and fresh ideas, continues to be hungover from Ravi Shastri’s days in the dressing room. Ravi Shastri as a director or for that matter as a mentor could be a name to look forward to. But to have him as Kumble’s replacement is a tad too much. It also signals towards a bigger conspiracy. Some feel that soon into Kumble’s regime, things had turned sour between Kohli and the coach.
And now with Ravi Shastri applying again, what does this signal? Isn’t the BCCI expected to trample such politics that forced an unceremonious exit of one of the most decorated Indian cricketer from the coaching job?
Won’t it be prudent to look beyond Shastri, who has been rejected once, and go with someone with fresh ideas? Sehwag, if reports are to be believed, was convinced by someone from inside the circles to apply. Can he be overlooked under such circumstances? Seems so! For Kohli has put his foot down, the deadline extension is just an extension of how he has been calling the shots. And Shastri has him in the pocket. Don’t be surprised if the man, who knows what the doctor ordered for the team, is missing in the commentary box from next month.