Vinod Rai, the former chief of BCCI's Committee of Administrators (CoA), believes the Virat Kohli-Anil Kumble episode could have been handled differently even though the then captain and head coach had a far-from-healthy working relationship.
Notably, Kumble had stepped down as head coach after a public fallout with Kohli following the Champions Trophy in 2017.
In his book, Not Just a Nightwatchman — My Innings in the BCCI, Vinod Rai has detailed the entire saga, claiming that Kohli told him younger members of the team felt intimidated by Kumble.
“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,” Rai writes in the book, as quoted by The Indian Express.
On the other hand, Kumble told the CoA that he did what he thought was the best for the Indian team.
According to Rai, Kumble’s successful record as head coach should have been taken into consideration rather than the perceived grievances of players.
“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,” Rai writes.
The book further mentions that the BCCI’s Cricket Advisory Committee (CAC) — featuring Sourav Ganguly, Sachin Tendulkar, and VVS Laxman — had spoken to Kohli and Kumble during the Champions Trophy in England in June 2017 as the panel was pondering over the appointment of next head coach.
As per the book, then BCCI CEO Rahul Johri and acting secretary Amitabh Choudhary too had a word with Kohli and Kumble.
“They felt that the differences were fairly severe and maybe it was only the CAC that would be best suited to have a thorough discussion with both of them. Soon, the CAC met in London and interacted with the two separately, in a bid to resolve the issue. After deliberations over three days, they decided to recommend Kumble’s reappointment as the head coach,” Rai writes.
However, Kumble decided to relinquish the position — a move that the ex-CoA chief termed as “a bolt from the blue” in his book.
While the speculations were doing the rounds that Kohli wanted Ravi Shastri as head coach, the latter was not among the applicants when the BCCI advertised for the head coach’s job.
But the last date for applications was extended and Shastri eventually got the head coach job, which he held until the T20 World Cup last year.
In Vinod Rai’s words, “some potential and deserving candidates may not have applied while Kumble was still in the fray”.
(With The Indian Express inputs)