Speak Up, Stand Down: Anil Kumble, BCCI’s Latest Victim?
Is Anil Kumble being sent a message for demanding a pay raise for Indian cricketers?
It seems like more things change the more they remain the same.
Now exactly in a repeat of what they did last year, albeit under a different regime, the Board of Control of Cricket in India (BCCI) have initiated yet another process to find the new Indian Head Coach.
The timing of the whole process though is curious, to say the least.
The BCCI and the powers that be had close to two months of no Indian cricket activity when the players were busy with the Indian Premier League (IPL), playing as they were for different franchises.
That should have been the ideal opportunity to start the process and confirm whether the present head coach Anil Kumble was going to be given an extension. After all, his tenure ends on 20 June, just a couple of days after the Champions Trophy draws to a close. But unfortunately the BCCI waited for the entire IPL to end, and also for the Indian cricket team to land in the United Kingdom to launch a process that has no time frame as yet.
This was exactly the same mistake that the BCCI made last year when they waited for the IPL to finish and then rushed into a process to name Kumble as the head coach. It was a sham because one applicant, Ravi Shastri, was holidaying in South East Asia and a member of the selection panel, Sachin Tendulkar, was far away in United Kingdom.
The whole process exposed the lack of structure and left a lot to be desired. In the end, Kumble was the ideal candidate and got chosen based on his credentials.
This time the BCCI have again presented a scenario where interested candidates have to put in their applications by 31 May, just about a week from now. It leaves candidates with little or no time.
If the buzzword is transparency, should the selection process not have been initiated right after the last India-Australia Test match? It does seem odd that the process starts just days before the Indian team defends a title that it famously won in 2013.
Kumble Being Targeted?
Now if the reason why Kumble is not getting an automatic extension is that he made a presentation for an increase in players and coaches’ fees, then it is hardly a crime. Perhaps with passage of time it has been forgotten that the present graded contract system for players was actually Kumble’s brain child. He put together a whole plan between 2000-2004 linking players to the BCCI revenue. So if there is a need for a re-think on the whole plan, it is only fair that Kumble is once again at the forefront to push for a change.
Now even as he is appearing before the coach selection panel, Kumble will have one eye on India’s performances in the Champions Trophy.
On what basis will the selection panel make a call? Will they now turn around to say that Kumble did not do a good job and hence has to be replaced? Won’t that be an admission of the failure of the panel themselves in choosing the right candidate last year?
There are more questions for the selection panel than last year. Any decision they take will have a direct reflection on their own judgement.
If anyone is feeling Kumble’s predicament, it could well be Shastri, who was treated similarly by the BCCI. Shastri stepped in when Indian cricket was at a crossroads. He took solitary charge of the side after Fletcher left and then he was summarily discarded. Even Shastri had the results to show, but like Kumble, he too was on notice.
This is hardly the ideal way to undertake a crucial process, but that is Indian cricket for you. It remains the same despite numerous court interventions and change of guard!
New Year, Same Mistakes
Nothing seems to have changed in the way the coach is chosen in the last 10 years. Duncan Fletcher had a three-year contract till the end of the 2014 World Twenty20. But officially no one ever commented on whether he has received an extension. Then he left after the 2015 World Cup, without any official statement on his departure. It was all open to conjecture.
Fletcher lived a charmed life as Indian coach, despite having nothing much to show for it, as he carried on for close to four years. It helps perhaps that he had the unqualified support of the then BCCI boss, N Srinivasan.
It seems like conjecture continues to be the buzzword even now as Kumble has been virtually put on notice despite a tremendous year with the Indian cricket team. India has won almost everything under his watch, at home and in West Indies.
In any case, one year is too short a time for coaches to work magic with their sides.
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