The 2017 ICC Champions Trophy begins on Thursday, and even though India don't play their opening game until Sunday, there's plenty for Indian cricket fans to get excited about. With a mouth-watering India-Pakistan clash on the horizon, there was a lot of buzz expected in the Indian cricketing circles, but instead all the attention has been deflected away from the high-profile clash, by the latest storm that's threatening to derail India's bid to retain their Champions Trophy title.
The noises surrounding a reported disagreement between skipper Virat Kohli and coach Anil Kumble have grown louder as the tournament has edged closer. On Thursday, Indian Express reported that the upcoming tournament is likely to be Kumble's last as coach of the Indian side, as the deadline to apply for job ended on Wednesday.
Kumble, who oversaw five series wins since taking over the role last June, doesn't seem to have the support of Kohli and some of the other members of the team who are reportedly unhappy with the his style of functioning. The friction between the Kumble and the team has been ongoing since the England series, and had continued into the Australia series as well. Even though the results don't reflect the unrest among the Indian camp, the situation isn't the most ideal ahead of such a high-profile event.
According to the report, despite the efforts of few BCCI officials, and members of the Committee of Administrators (CoA) to establish peace between the duo, the differences between the coach and the captain are “almost irrevocable". Apparently Sachin Tendulkar, who is a part of the Cricket Advisory Committee that appointed Kumble to the post in June last year, tried to build bridges between the two, but Kohli didn't sway from his stand. The committee also comprises of Sourav Ganguly and VVS Laxman.
Kumble who was directly inserted into the process for selection of India's coaching job by the BCCI last month, is unlikely to seek an extension to his contract having lost the dressing room, and is slated to communicate the same to the BCCI, according to a report in the New Indian Express.
However, the report also said that the board, didn't receive any applications for the post until Wednesday evening, putting BCCI in an awkward position. The board will now have to either make a move on it's own to get a replacement for Kumble if he decides against an extension, a scenario that seems highly likely at this moment of time or possibly upset the team, by convincing Kumble to continue in the role. The latter won't be a fruitful solution given the longstanding disagreement between the duo.
Ravi Shastri, who preceded Kumble in a similar role with the Indian team, appears to still enjoy the Indian players' faith. In fact, if reports are to be believed, Kohli is keen on having Shastri back in the role of team director and the board have also had communication with the former Indian captain about a possible return. But Shastri who is unhappy with the treatment he was given in the lead up to Kumble's eventual appointment last year is resisting a quick chance of being restored in his old role, and is believed to be waiting for BCCI to make an offer.
Despite all these tensions, the team appears to be focused on the job at hand. In the two warm-up matches ahead of the Champions Trophy, the men in blue registered convincing wins, with all departments firing well. Indian cricket fans will be hoping the issue between the coach and the players is resolved sooner rather than later, but till the time it exists, they will hope that team's interest is placed ahead of personal problems.