Critics often question the tactical maturity of Virat Kohli as a captain. Often, we have found him a bit predictable and mainstream, especially when the opposition is on top. Unlike his predecessors like Sourav Ganguly or MS Dhoni, Kohli tends to lack the inspiring capabilities as a leader. At the Indian Premier League and international level, there are plenty of examples of him being looked like a fish out of water as a captain under challenging circumstances.
However, having followed the recent ‘process’ of appointing Ravi Shastri as the new head coach of the Indian cricket team it seems, I have to change my mind regarding Kohli’s maturity as a tactician.
Getting rid of a thorough professional like Anil Kumble, who has had an immensely successful year with the team as a head-coach, was not an easy task for Kohli and Co. Last year, when the three-member Cricket Advisory Committee (CAC), comprised of Sourav Ganguly, Sachin Tendulkar and VVS Laxman, appointed the former Indian leggie in this prestigious position, it was an obvious choice. Shastri too was one of the candidates back then, but despite Kohli’s immense support, he could not make it.
So, this time the captain was better prepared.
It was well known in the team that following the ICC Champions Trophy in England, Kumble’s initial one-year contract would have been extended until the 2019 World Cup. However, just after landing in the United Kingdom at the end of May, all of a sudden, the captain and some of his teammates started to express their reservations regarding the ‘style’ of coaching of Kumble and they literally forced BCCI to reopen the process for searching for a new person for the position, instead of just extending the current contract.
Sources also claim that they got the backing of one section of the board members, who too were not happy with Kumble, because of his growing stature as an independent decision-maker within the Indian cricket fraternity.
The CAC, however, was not in favour of replacing Kumble, for his successful stint with the team. More than that, the committee brought an experienced campaigner like him to build a team for the next World Cup and Kumble’s influence on the youngsters like Hardik Pandya, Kuldeep Yadav, Kedar Jadhav and others have been quite evident in the recent past.
During the Champions Trophy, Ganguly himself interacted with the Indian skipper quite a few times to make him understand the importance of Kumble’s presence in the dressing room. But Kohli was solid in his defence. He not only opposed to continue with the current coach, Kohli even batted for his preferred candidate – Shastri.
Counterattacking was at its best.
During his media interactions in England, whenever Kohli was asked a question about this development regarding coach selection, he referred it as ‘a process being followed’. But he failed to justify, why the so called ‘process’ of interviewing new candidates for the head coach was required when the Indian team already had someone, who was trusted with the role less than 12 months back and under his guidance the team had won almost everything.
Meanwhile, Shastri did not initially apply for the position, but he was in the frame of schemes right from the start. However, after a bit of drama, he did come across with his candidature, probably after getting an assurance from the board about securing the job.
Eventually, in the end, the BCCI and CAC have literally bowed down to the captain to bring the ‘yes man’ back in the Indian dressing room till the 2019 World Cup.
Overall, this entire controversy surrounding the coach selection, has not been a good advertisement for Indian cricket. Every captain wants favourable support staffs to stamp his authority in the team, but the alleged way Kohli has behaved to get Shastri back in the dressing room, is quite unusual and unfortunately, the board too treated him like a pampered child.
However, in the end, job well done.
Well played, skipper!