Vinod Rai, the former IAS officer and Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) ran Indian cricket for a period of nearly three years from 2017 as BCCI was caught in turmoil. Rai was the head of the Committee of Administrators (CoA) appointed by none other than the Supreme Court – the topmost legal court in the country.
It was during this period that one of the ugliest ego clashes played out between the captain and coach of the national – even eclipsing the infamous Greg Chappell and Saurav Ganguly fallout of 2004. Now, Rai in his new book has dug out skeletons from the closet and dubbed Kohli as the architecture of Kumble’s ouster from the team.
Virat Kohli, the then captain of the Indian side in all three formats had a rough relationship with coach Anil Kumble. Eventually, the latter was ejected out of the team rather unceremoniously as Kohli had reservations with Kumble’s “disciplinarian” way of handling things. Rai, in his new book titled ‘Not Just a Night-watchman — My Innings in the BCCI’ has laid bare what exactly transpired during the entire conundrum between the duo.
Rai wrote in his book, “In my conversations with the captain and team management, it was conveyed that Kumble was too much of a disciplinarian and hence the team members were not too happy with him. I had spoken to Virat Kohli on the issue and he did mention that the younger members of the team felt intimidated by the way he worked with them,”
Captain should not have been given so much importance: Vinod Rai
Anil Kumble to this day is India’s leading wicket-taker in both Tests and ODIs. His coaching record was not too shabby either as the side had just reached the final of the 2017 Champions Trophy in England. Rai in his book noted that Kohli should not have been given so much importance during the entire controversy.
Rai wrote, “We had long conversations with Kumble after he had returned from the UK. He was obviously upset about the manner in which the entire episode had panned out. He felt he had been unfairly treated and a captain or team should not be given so much importance. It was the duty of the coach to bring discipline and professionalism into the team and as a senior, his views should have been respected by the players,”
The former IAS officer also went on to add that Kohli mentioned young players being “intimated” by Kumble. Rai said, “I had spoken to Virat Kohli on the issue and he did mention that the younger members of the team felt intimidated by the way he worked with them,”
Read More: Anil Kumble: The Coach Indian Cricket waited for almost a decade
CAC wanted to reappoint Kumble but Kohli objected
After the controversy was dialed up to maximum and news of rifts started doing the rounds of media, BCCI’s Cricket Advisory Committee (CAC) — comprising Sourav Ganguly, Sachin Tendulkar, and VVS Laxman tried to intervene. The then CEO Rahul Johri and acting secretary Amitabh Choudhary, too, had a chat with the coach and captain.
However, Captain Kohli, too narrow-minded in his approach batted for the appointment of a new coach. But the CAC put its foot down and recommended a term extension for Kumble as the head coach.
Just when it looked like the controversy will be put to bed, Kumble announced his resignation, which came as a surprise to the entire board. In his resignation letter, Kumble wrote, “… I was informed by the BCCI that the captain has reservations with my ‘style’ and about my continuing as Head Coach. I was surprised since I had always respected the role boundaries between Captain and Coach.”
Read More: Was Ravi Shastri the Mastermind of the Kohli-Kumble Spat?
Kohli’s power trip set a dangerous precedent
Cricket for long always respected its legends. However, ever since Kohli played his part in axing Kumble as the head coach, a dangerous pandora box has been opened. As reported by TFI, Australian Men’s cricket team coach Justin Langer was forced to resign in February after an extended period of hostility between the board, coach, and the players.
Reportedly, Pat Cummins, the newly crowned captain of the Australian side stood his ground and termed Langer ‘too intense’ for the role. Akin to how Anil Kumble was sacked from the Indian Team after Virat Kohli objected to his methods, another current player managed to eject a legend of the game from performing his duties.
Langer goes as Aus coach.
Cricket is slowly changing into football now as the players become very wealthy & player power is full steam ahead!
— Kevin Pietersen🦏 (@KP24) February 5, 2022
The striking similarities between the two incidents prove that Cricket has regressed over time, instead of evolving. The once gentlemen game has now turned into a game of ruffians with political faceless administrators and rowdy cricketers pulling the strings. And if a sport cannot respect its legends, then it certainly doesn’t have the right to call itself a ‘gentleman’s game’.
Read More: How cricket transformed from a gentleman’s game to a game of ruffians
Kohli may come up with his own versions of the events in an autobiography in 20 years’ time but his legacy will always be tainted for not respecting a cricketing legend like Anil Kumble. While Kohli led the team admirably in the Test arena, an ICC and IPL trophy evaded him throughout his captaincy career. Perhaps, if Kohli had respected his seniors, the rub of green could have gone his way and India could have had another ICC trophy in her cabinet.
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