Conflict of interest forced Kumble, a man with too many ideas, to quit. Nothing as direct as the kind that BCCI president N Srinivasan indulges in but enough to let murmurs in the shadows grow stronger.
It's one thing to be a player and observe what is happening in the Board of Control for Cricket in India and quite another to become part of the establishment and fight the officials on their own ground. Anil Kumble found that out pretty quickly – in 15 months to be precise.
The former India skipper took over as chairman from Ravi Shastri and had quickly outlined a three-year plan; a vision of how he wanted the academy to shape up. But instead he found that his plans were discussed a lot -- only discussed.
Things only got worse when all the allegations involving Anil Kumble’s player management company, Tenvic, came out in the open. That episode laid the seeds of doubt in every BCCI member's mind. So the process got even slower. Eventually, it ground to a standstill.
But Kumble’s decision to resign boiled down to three things:
1. The BCCI’s premier cricket academy, the NCA (National Cricket Academy India) is in Bangalore. Kumble was the chairman of this facility. But other than this academy, the BCCI also has three specialist academies – one for batting in Mumbai, the pace bowling academy in Mohali and the spin bowling and wicketkeepers’ academy in Chennai. Now all of these committees are stand-alone – they do not submit reports to the NCA. Instead, Lalchand Rajput, who heads the batting academy, sends the reports directly to N Srinivasan. So it basically means that the NCA becomes little more than a rehab centre for most of the year.
Kumble wanted to change this. But many members in the BCCI felt that such a move would give the former India skipper access to players early and allow him to sign them for Tenvic. So eventually, the request was snubbed.
2. Kumble had made a presentation to the BCCI to teach life skills to the players in 2010. The personality development programme that included finance management, stress management, anti-doping code, media management and how to handle instant success was to be conducted through Tenvic, a division of Anil Kumble Sports Pvt Ltd, and each session was to be monitored by Kumble himself. The programme would have cost Rs 2.9 lakh per player. But in October this year, that proposal was shot down by the Board.
Kumble wanted the players to remain in Bangalore for 12 months. The official reason was that BCCI felt that 12 months was too long for a young cricketer to remain in just one place. But according to source, the Board officials once again had felt that Kumble was directly benefitting from this arrangement – another conflict of interest.
3. The third and final blow for Kumble was the BCCI’s decision to put the plan to set up an injury database on all the Indian players on the backburner. Kumble had been in talks with IT major Infosys to set it up but the BCCI once again thought that a major cut was going to Kumble. Part of the suspicion may have come from the news that normally such a set-up doesn’t cost more than around 5000 pounds sterling. But according to sources, Kumble was quoting a much-larger amount.
Whether real or perceived, once Kumble’s fellow officials started doubting his intentions it was tough for him to get any real work down. He ran into BCCI’s babudom at its best and found that he had no answer except perhaps to resign.
But in this day and age, conflict of interest is almost a pre-requisite to get into the BCCI. Many other BCCI officials have clear conflicts of interest but they still remain standing. On the other hand, an outsider like Kumble was quickly shown his place.
In the ‘You scratch my back and I will scratch yours’ world of the BCCI, Kumble was thought to be too selfish. And that’s the cruel irony.
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