Arguably one of the greatest spinners in the history of the game, Anil Kumble won India more Test matches than any other bowler till date. Following in the footsteps of the great tall wrist-spinners Bill O'Reilly and his own idol BS Chandrasekhar, Kumble made the ball hack through the air rather than hanging in it, coming off the pitch with a kick rather than a kink.
The unorthodox method provided him with stunning success, even if majority of his scalps came on Indian soil. Needless to say, that there was no more difficult challenge in cricket than negating Kumble on a wearing surface. But, if his artistry with the ball wasn't enough, Kumble continued to contribute towards the betterment of Indian cricket even after his retirement.
Trading the bowling cap for a coach's hat, the 47-year-old took Team India to new heights in what was arguably the pivotal phase of Virat Kohli's new-age side. Ever since his appointment as India's head coach in June 2016, Kumble has witnessed India winning a dozen out of 17 Tests alongside four draws and just one loss that came against Steve Smith's men earlier in 2017. And, more importantly, India also retained their World No. 1 ranking in the longest version of the game.
But, despite the glorious and undeniably effective stint as India's coach, the veteran spinner, didn't just fail to get a worthy automatic contract extension, but he was humiliated to the core before being forced to resign from his post. In a heartfelt post on Twitter in June 2017, Kumble has stepped down as Team India's coach citing his untenable differences with skipper Kohli as the main reason. There were reports that Kohli even abused Kumble during one of the team meetings and played a pivotal role in his ouster.
Thank you! pic.twitter.com/eF5qVzdBRj— Anil Kumble (@anilkumble1074) June 20, 2017
Since then, we've seen Ravi Shastri overshadowing many potential suitors to bag the lucrative role of India's head coach, Kohli deleting the welcome tweet for Kumble on his appointment as coach in 2016 and the sordid saga between Kumble and Kohli being deemed as probably the darkest hour for Indian cricket in recent times. But, no one really got to know if Kumble was actually at fault, or was it Kohli who forced the Indian cricket board to ask him to leave?
After almost 18 months from Kumble unceremonious ouster, Diana Edulji, a member of BCCI's Committee of Administrators (CoA), has opened the can of worms amid the ongoing controversy in the Indian women's cricket. "Mr Kumble a legend in his own right was subjected to loss of face and made to look like a villain. He was gracious enough to move on for which I respect him. There also, rules were broken and I had raised objections back then," Edulji, a senior administrator, claimed.
Following his year-long contract as coach, Kumble, as claimed by the BCCI, was believed to be a "direct entry" into the pool of six applicants vying for the top job. The entire process was overseen by the CoA and the Cricket Advisory Committee (CAC) - which was comprised of Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly and VVS Laxman. At the behest of the CoA, the CAC met Kohli to patch up the differences amicably, but failed.
Nonetheless, the CAC informed the Indian cricket board that Kumble was its preferred choice. But, the BCCI extended its deadline to accommodate Shastri's application before finalising him as India's head coach. Edulji, who recently broke her silence, claimed that the entire selection process was fraught and it was, indeed, Kohli who had arm-twisted BCCI into breaking rules and hiring Shastri for the top job.
Edulji's revelations come as part of her disagreement with Vinod Rai over the appointment of an ad-hoc committee to pick the Indian women's team head coach. While senior players like the T20I captain Harmanpreet Kaur and vice-captain Smriti Mandhana requested the CoA and BCCI to continue with the interim coach Ramesh Powar, Rai opined that players cannot pick coaching staff through votes.
Irked by the comments of CoA head, Edulji, then, pointed to the example of Kohli playing the role of the decision-maker during Kumble's ouster. "Virat did not accede to Kumble continuing in spite of CAC saying so then why not these two players get what they feel is best for the team," Edulji wrote to Rai in an email.
"I see nothing wrong in women cricketers writing emails reg the coach. "They were truthful in expressing their views unlike Virat who frequently sent SMS-es to the CEO on which you acted and there was a change in the Coach. There also I had objected and my dissent is recorded when the timelines were extended for someone to apply as he didn't apply in time," Edulji wrote.
In response, Rai, too, admitted Kohli's hand in Kumble's ouster. "Yes- there were differences between Virat and Kumble. As a consequence of that Kumble stepped back," Rai replied.
Powar, who saw India reaching to the women's ICC World T20 semifinal last month, was expected to get a contract extension as coach. However, a bitter fallout with senior cricketer Mithali Raj, who accused the women's coach of humiliating her, spoiled his chances of getting an automatic contract extension. But, Edulji has raised a valid point in her emails.
If Kohli can force the BCCI to get rid of Kumble, despite the former Indian cricketer taking the team to new heights, and hire Shastri, often labelled as a 'yes man', the women's cricketers, too, should have their say in appears to be a similar situation. There is no doubt over Kohli's achievements as one of the world's best batsmen and all that he has done to make the nation proud, but no cricketer is, or should be considered, above Indian cricket.
And, Edulji's shocking revelations, sadly, highlight who's actually calling the shots in the men's team.