Former India captain Anil Kumble was on Wednesday named India’s head coach by the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) for the next 12 months. Kumble will assume his new role before India’s coming tour of the West Indies.
“We wanted the best because we deserve the best,” BCCI president Anurag Thakur told reporters in Dharamsala, where the cricket board is hosting its first-ever four-day annual cricket conclave. “Anil Kumble has been a match-winner for India, he has a great record,” he added.
In Bengaluru, Kumble told reporters: “It’s a great honour to be back again in the Indian dressing room, in a different role. It’s a huge responsibility. I have always put my hand up for challenges. A coach’s role in my opinion is always done in the background, and that will be my approach. I believe that players come first, coaches come later.”
He added that the timing of his return to the Indian dressing room was right. “This is the time for me to give back. Travelling 365 days is not easy. I had a long chat with the family, my wife and kids, and it was a major decision.”
BCCI secretary Ajay Shirke said that Kumble’s appointment for a year was based on the fact that the former India captain was “transforming himself from a great on the cricket field to a great coach”.
“There is a transition there, and we have to cover all bases, and we want to be in a position to review,” he said.
Shirke also said that four foreigners had applied for the role and had been interviewed by the Cricket Advisory Committee (CAC).
He denied that a potential conflict of interest could arise in Kumble’s appointment due to his involvement with Tenvic Sports Education Ltd, which mentors talent.
BCCI’s conflict of interest rules bar a team official/member of the coaching staff from holding any position or having business interests in a sports management company (which Tenvic could be classified as).
Both Shirke and Kumble said that the issue would be resolved before he takes over his role ahead of the West Indies tour.
“Conflict of interest has become a fashionable word to use. However, it has been completely addressed, and whatever decisions around this issue have been addressed prior to taking the decision. There will be no conflict of interest as such before he assumes this role,” said Shirke.
Responding to a question on the issue, Kumble joked, “During my playing career, my middle name was Radhakrishnan. After my retirement, conflict of interest became my middle name.” On a serious note, he added: “We have already discussed that. Whatever needs to be done will be done before I take up the role.”
Kumble came through an elaborate selection and interview process, which began earlier this month. There were other contenders for the post including former India captain Ravi Shastri, who recently served as India’s team director till his contract ran out after the 2016 World Twenty20 tournament in March.
Kumble’s appointment was recommended by CAC, which has his former teammates Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly and V.V.S. Laxman as members.
“It’s a great thing for Indian cricket. I certainly believe that the five players I played with throughout my career, if you look at Sourav, Sachin, Laxman, the three of them have been in advisory roles, and of course Sourav in administration. Rahul (Dravid) is in charge of the junior team, and the five of us have had a wonderful relationship on the field and off the field. And the five of us have to sit down and do what is needed in the best interest of Indian cricket,” Kumble said.
BCCI confirmed that it would appoint Kumble’s support staff “after further deliberations”.
In a stellar international career spanning 18 years, Kumble represented India 132 times in Tests and 271 times in one-day internationals. With 619 Test wickets to his name, Kumble is the third-highest wicket-taker in Test cricket.
After hanging up his boots in 2008, Kumble continued to involve himself with cricket in different capacities, including a brief stint in administration as the Karnataka State Cricket Association president between 2010 and 2013.
Kumble has also served as team mentor with two Indian Premier League (IPL) franchises—Royal Challengers Bangalore and Mumbai Indians—but has no coaching experience at the domestic (first class) or international level.