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Playing it safe

Playing it safe
Highlights

The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has played it safe, absolutely safe, so to say, when choosing the national team coach during the course of the Board’s first ever Conclave in Dharamshala. 

The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has played it safe, absolutely safe, so to say, when choosing the national team coach during the course of the Board’s first ever Conclave in Dharamshala.

Although, around 57 were in the running for the job, by all accounts, it was a toss-up between Anil Kumble and Ravi Shastri, whose personalities are as different as chalk and cheese.

By going in with the world’s third highest wicket-taker, the BCCI, following the recommendation of the three-member Cricket Advisory Committee (CAC), has apparently preferred an easy-going non-controversial and affable 45-year-old.

As the policymakers try to heave a sigh of relief, one wonders if the choice was meant for the overall good of the country. As against Kumble’s goody-good image, Shastri comes across as an aggressive and outspoken individual, who would not hesitate to call a spade a spade.

True, Kumble enjoys a credible standing in the cricketing world for his extraordinary performances as a player, which are far superior to whatever Shastri could achieve in his lifetime but when it comes to handling a bunch of players who come from all over the country, Kumble could be in a spot of bother every now and then.

One is not sure of his man-management abilities, although he led the country in 14 Test matches, while Shastri has been with the current crop of players for close to 18 months. Kumble was certainly aggressive as a bowler that saw him script amazing dismissals but the same cannot be said about his persona,

which can be classified in the ‘introvert’ category. The only positive in his demeanor and resourcefulness to the team prospects is that his ‘soft’ approach will be the perfect foil to the streak of aggression in Virat Kohli, whose captaincy in all formats is round the corner.

In anointing Kumble, BCCI has actually gone against two of the parameters it had set for the applicants. Kumble’s Hindi is questionable and he has no prior coaching experience at any level, which was one of the criteria for selection.

Board Secretary Ajay Shirke in an off-the-cuff remark perhaps indicated that the selection was over a week back when he pointed out that in certain individual cases norms could be relaxed. The beneficiary has to be Kumble, India’s biggest match-winner, who has 619 Test wickets and 337 in ODIs besides a Test century at Oval.

One finds it a bit difficult to understand where Shastri lost the race because he would have been a better choice. Not only would it have guaranteed continuity but he is also one who understands the strengths and weaknesses of most of the players, while Kumble may not even know half of them by their names.

A good augury for Kumble is that he begins his assignment with a tour of the West Indies, where India begins as the outright favourites unless Calypso magic works wonders. In an era of professionalism, one wonders why Kumble was given a one-year term. Does the BCCI fear that Kumble may be not as inspirational as one is presuming?

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