Anil Kumble and Virat Kohli rift – what went wrong and who is right

Anil Kumble and Virat Kohli rift – what went wrong and who is right

Anil Kumble and Virat Kohli have delivered some exceptional performances in recent years. I thought that this partnership would continue for many years. But, I was disappointed when I read in the papers today that Kumble has resigned as coach of the cricket team. Did he ‘quit’ because the match was ‘rigged’? What is the real story?

Anil Kumble and Virat Kohli rift - what went wrong and who is right
The text of Kumble’s letter to the BCCI about his withdrawing his services as the Head Coach. Creds-

Anil Kumble and Virat Kohli- a partnership gone wrong

Anil Kumble became the coach of the BCCI team last year. He was appointed to this position by the Committee of Administrators, led by Vinod Rai. Please recall the setting up of a committee, by Supreme Court, comprising three non-cricketers to oversee the BCCI affairs.

Did Kumble deliver? Let us see his performance.

  1. India won the West Indies Test Series, last July, 2-0
  2. Beat New Zealand 3-0 in the Test Series
  3. Beat England 4-0 in the 5-match Test Series last November-December
  4. Once again, beat Bangladesh in a Test Series
  5. In Australia, the team beat that country 2-1 in a 4-match Test Series this January.
  6. Defeated New Zealand 3-2 in a 5-match One Day Series
  7. Once again, beat England 2-1 in a 3-match One Day Series.

Did you say fantastic? I would say phenomenal.

But, did Anil Kumble perform single-handed?

Of course not. The team Captain was the 28-year old Virat Kohli. So, this performance was an outcome of a successful partnership.

However, Kohli says that there were serious differences between him and Kumble before the latter put in his papers.

Now let us look at Kohli’s performance over the last one year. This will help in understanding what went wrong between the two.

Kohli’s performance, 2016-2017

Let’s look at his batting performance in 2017 matches. We will not consider his IPL scores as they are not relevant to his article.

Pakistan5 (ODI)
South Africa76(ODI)
Sri Lanka0(ODI)
New Zealand52(ODI)

Evidently, Virat Kohli did well in these matches though he miserably failed in the finals of the recently concluded International Champion’s Trophy. In that match, he scored a duck.

In 2016, he enjoyed a phenomenal average run rate of 84 runs. So, Virat’s performance as a batsman and captain has been very good over the last one year. Surely, Kumble and Kohli have been doing very well together.

Anil Kumble and Virat Kohli rift - what went wrong and who is right
Kumble and Kohli in happier times. Image- India Today

To check Kohli’s  batting stats, please visit Kohli’s batting innings.

Rift or Vendetta?

Was it rift or vendetta between Kumble and Kohli?

Unconfirmed reports suggest that it was more a matter of vendetta for Kohli against his former coach than a mere difference of opinion. Rumors flew thick and fast that Anil Kumble had begun planting insidious stories against the team Captain in various WhatsApp groups. Nobody knows about the origins of these bunkum stories. However, an article in The Economic Times suggests Virat Kohli as a villain of the piece.

But why would a successful captain stoop this low? Did Kohli fear that Kumble- the man who has more than a million wickets under him- would take away all the credit? What was the reason for this ‘vendetta’? Unfortunately, The Economic Times has only added to the rumor mongering around the Kumble and Kohli issue.

Discipline as Vendetta?

Did Kohli get back to Kumble because the coach insisted that all the players had to work in a disciplined manner? It is not surprising if Anil Kumble had indeed pulled up some of the players for their sloppiness! The main job of the coach is to ensure that the team works hard, trains regularly and sticks to the training basics. If the training starts at 5 a.m in the morning, then, so be it. Everybody should reach the grounds on time.

My sense is that Kumble did indeed try to ensure discipline in his team and that rattled some of the players. But the flashpoint between Kumble and his captain came later, after the finals of the 2017 Champion’s Trophy.

‘Red hot under the collar’

What happens when your champion team collapses in an unexpected fashion against a team that you have roundly beat a number of times? Of course, you lose your temper. If I were the coach of the team, I would blow off my handle. It would be difficult to stay calm after seeing my players gifting away their wickets to nincompoops like Pakistan.

Anil Kumble and Virat Kohli rift - what went wrong and who is right
Crushing defeat! India loses the ICC CT 2017 to Pakistan by 180 runs. Image-

I would not be rattled by the loss, no way. I would be bitter at the manner of the loss.

Perhaps that is what hit Kumble in the gut. How could Pakistan come back in the game when it had been roundly defeated by India several times in the past?

Some people in the know say that the coach spoke harshly to some of the non-performers after the ICT finals and this upset Kohli.

Cricket legend Sunil Gavaskar supports Anil Kumble on this issue. He says that the role of the coach is to coach and not be a sissy. Coaches have to be hard taskmasters and their job is to ensure that every player performs according to his potential keep improving his performance.

Others aren’t sure

Let us also look at other potential reasons that might have led to the Kumble and Kohli showdown.This will help us make an objective judgment of the issue.

Did Kumble feel bad that the BCCI advertised for the post of Head Coach without consulting him? If that is the case then why did Kohli and Kumble differ on various issues? Some people say that the Board acted on the recommendations of Captain Kohli.

Then there is another theory that suggests that Kumble wanted the salaries of the non-team staff raised. He perhaps felt that the team physio and other support staff should be paid adequately by the Board. Now, if this were really the case then why would Kohli object to the raising of salaries?

Kohli must speak up

In all this commotion, Virat Kohli has chosen to be silent. Cricket lovers expect him to open up and reveal what has transpired between Kumble and him.

But I don’t think this is the right time for him to speak out his mind. He should concentrate on the West-Indies tour and the others that follow this tour. By speaking out, he will create a controversy and this will take the focus away from the coming matches.

I think he will share his perspective once the West Indies series is over.

BCCI’s clowning glory

The Board of Cricket Control has not covered itself with glory either. On its website, the Board posted a message, ‘The BCC confirms that Mr. Anil Kumble has withdrawn his services as the post of the Head Coach for the Senior India Men’s team. ‘ Now doesn’t it imply that Anil Kumble has resigned as the Head Coach whereas he had only said that he did not want to continue in this position!

Further, the message reads,’ While the Cricket Advisory Committee had endorsed an endorsed an extension to his ( Kumble’s) tenure as Head Coach, Mr. Anil Kumble has decided not to continue as the coach’. Now isn’t this surprising? Only 24 hours earlier, the Board had said that the Committee wanted 24 hours more to decide on the extension to Kumble!

A pliable coach!

Does the Indian cricket team need a pliable coach? Does this team need a person who helps in players get from the stadium to the hotel and back? Does Kohli want a jee-humour kind of a coach for his team? I fear that the next coach would have learned his lessons by now. For him, Kohli and only Kohli would be the right man to go to. Performance be damned!

Probable candidates

After the departure of Kumble, suddenly the role of the Head Coach has lost its shine. I wonder whether Virender Sehwag would still be interested in this role. He is an outspoken man and a tough nut to crack. But, his chances have now dimmed because Ravichandran said sometime back that he did not get along very well with Viru while the latter was on the team. Viru, like Kumble, does not have prior coaching experience.

Another probable candidate is is Tim Moody of Australia. Moody guided the Lankans to the 2007 World Cup finals and also helped Sunrisers Hyderabad win the 2016 IPL championship.

Another man to watch for is Lalchand Rajput, manager of the 2007 T-20  match winning Indian team. Then there are others like Richard Pyrus of England and Doda Ganesh (Karnataka) who are also in the fray. The competition, sure, is interesting.


I hope that the situation becomes clear after the conclusion of the West Indies series. Kumble and Kohli have some superb work together by bagging many One Day and Test Match titles. While the Coach is expected to help the team deliver, the final responsibility to win matches rests with the Captain. Kohli must speak up after some time so that there is no confusion in the minds of the cricket lovers. However, it is for the readers to decide who is wrong-Kohli or Kumble?

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