Leaked Texts, Kuldeep Selection: Flashpoints in Kohli-Kumble Rift

Anil Kumble has now, more or less confirmed, what we had been reading as reports.

4 min read
Virat Kohli has reportedly been leading a silent campaign to have Anil Kumble shunted out of the Indian dressing room. 

On the day the Indian cricket team departed for their Champions Trophy campaign in England, the BCCI opened the application process for the post of the head coach of the men’s cricket team.

Totally unrelated, you’d think.

Only, nothing in Indian cricket is.

Through the tournament, it was widely reported that captain Virat Kohli had been leading a silent campaign to have coach Anil Kumble shunted out of the Indian dressing room. And days after India lost the Champions Trophy final to Pakistan, Kumble has confirmed the news.

In his revealing letter after stepping down as head coach, Kumble said BCCI told him that the captain had reservations with his ‘style’ and about him “continuing as Head Coach”.

In public though, Kohli had chosen to refrain from sharing his sentiments.

In his first press conference after landing in London, Virat was asked about BCCI opening the application process for the coach and he simply said he didn't “see anything very different from what has happened in the past.”

And when asked about Kumble’s role in the success of the team, he said, “The contribution is from every part of the team. It's not from a single source, to say the least.”


However, while we waited for the official words for the parties involved, there were always other ways they choose to communicate their views. Like BCCI officials ‘who choose to not be named’ or ‘sources’ in the dressing room.

Here is all that was leaked of the – now confirmed – rift between Virat and Anil Kumble:

“He Is Overbearing”

According to an Indian Express report, Virat Kohli sent a BCCI official a text message that read ‘he is overbearing’, referring to Kumble.

However, the report adds that it isn't just Kohli who’s had trouble with Kumble’s methods.

It’s just not the captain alone. A few months back, a bowler landed at the national cricket academy in Bangalore. Rest, recuperation, and some fitness work was on his mind. Some bit of bowling too. He was told he had to put in hours of bowling, get Test-match fit. He wasn’t initially keen but was told he had no choice. For what it’s worth, his bowling improved at the end of the stint.
Source to the Indian Express

The report mentions another instance when Kumble left a few in the dressing room a bit uncomfortable with his rules.

“A batsman was injured and wanted to stay away. But it’s learnt Kumble wanted him to ‘toughen up’ and play setting off some disquiet within,” the report states.


Kumble Caused Injuries?

Reports also say that Virat Kohli had made clear his stand on Kumble’s tenure before leaving for England, conveying his word to BCCI’s Committee of Administrators (CoA) on the matter.

Kohli is believed to have spoken to Sourav Ganguly, former India captain and also a member of the cricket advisory panel which has been tasked with picking the next coach.

An ESPNCricinfo report though, brings to light another flashpoint between the coach his wards, indicating that Kumble’s ‘headmaster’ ways even led some players to get injured.

Kumble was pushing hard. The bulk of them [injuries] are non-cricketing injuries. One of the players was stressed out. So the team is not a happy lot.
BCCI Official to ESPNCricinfo
Virat Kohli’s shoulder injury left an empty spot in the Indian team that was taken by Kuldeep Yadav in Dharamsala. Reportedly, without the knowledge of Virat Kohli. (Photo: BCCI)
Virat Kohli’s shoulder injury left an empty spot in the Indian team that was taken by Kuldeep Yadav in Dharamsala. Reportedly, without the knowledge of Virat Kohli. (Photo: BCCI)

Kuldeep's Selection

A report in The Hindu states that “observers believe that Kohli and Kumble are strong cricket personalities and that a clash between them was waiting to happen any time.”

More interestingly though, the report adds that the BCCI asked former India opener Virender Sehwag to apply for Kumble’s job during the IPL. Sehwag though, is believed to have turned down the offer.

The paper also reveals another incident that only escalated the differences between the two bosses in the Indian dressing room.

BCCI officials tracking the long home international season are not sure whether the fissure in the team harmony began to widen when left-arm chinaman Kuldeep Yadav played the last Test against Australia at Dharamshala. It is understood that Kumble’s proposal to field Yadav in the third Test at Ranchi was shot down by Kohli.

Kumble Leaked Conversations

Anil Kumble leaked ‘one-on-one’ talks with senior cricketers to his selective group of ‘friends in the media’, reports DNA.

A senior BCCI official said, “We’ve been told that there is a WhatsApp group created by Kumble of his few trusted media friends and few confidential talks between him and senior players were leaked through that.”

Cricketers Can’t Speak Their Minds

The Times of India puts forward the team’s side of this controversy, citing sources who say “the team was not allowed to speak their minds as much as they would like. Kumble has always insisted that team code like punctuality should be adhered to. This approach of Kumble may have irked Kohli and his bunch.”

Of the incidents that have been pointed out as having led to this unnecessary controversy, one was related to Kumble and his coaching staff wanting a conditioning camp right after the Test series against England because the team was reuniting after a gap of almost 15 days. Kohli shot down the proposal saying that the players were already in the midst of a hectic season and they didn’t need a conditioning camp to gear up for the ODI and T20 series that followed the Tests with England.

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

Stay Updated

Subscribe To Our Daily Newsletter And Get News Delivered Straight To Your Inbox.

Join over 120,000 subscribers!