Kohli and Shastri: A Match Made from Backstabbing

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Anil Kumble (L) and Virat Kohli

ONDRIVE
With Sham Samaroo

Last year, Ondrive, quoting a reliable source within the BCCI, reported that the appointment of Ravi Shastri as India’s coach was steeped in crookedness and backstabbing of Kumble by Virat Kohli.

This week, we got confirmation from Diana Eduljii, a high ranking administrator in the BCCI. Eduljii is one of the two members of the Supreme Court-appointed Committee of Administrators (CoA). She revealed that the BCCI had “broken rules” to appoint Ravi Shastri coach, and remove the then highly respected coach, Anil Kumble. Eduljii revealed that the entire process from beginning to end was fraught with corruption. At the center of the treachery are emails from Kohli to the BCCI undermining his coach, Anil Kumble. The emails suggest that Kohli wanted his buddy, Ravi Shastri, as coach. Never mind that Kumble’s coaching record stood as just one loss in 17 Tests while securing the No.1 Test ranking for India.

Virat Kohli and Ravi Shastri were the two traitors that secretly hatched the backstabbing plot to remove Kumble. Kumble was appointed coach in 2016 just prior to the tour of the West Indies. Immediately into the tour, captain Kohli clashed with coach Kumble. Kohli wanted the prestigious number three position, and demanded that Pujara be dropped. Kohli’s ego, it seems, is bigger than the game. Remember it was Kohli himself who once said: “I am a brat, arrogant and casual”. Kohli is a control freak. It was not enough for the arrogant Kohli to be captain. He also wanted to be coach and selector. But Kohli had a big problem. Kumble is one of the most experienced, respected, and admired players, captains, or coach in the game. Moreover, with over 130 test matches under his belt, Kumble has more knowledge of the game in his big toe than Kohli does in his entire body. There was no way Kumble would allow Kohli to boss him around. From then on started the undermining and the backstabbing by Kohli and Shastri.

Kohli began sending weekly messages to the BCCI complaining about Kumble. But he was getting nowhere because Kumble is highly respected in BCCI circles. After the WI tour, India traveled to England for the Champions Trophy. The Kohli messages continued daily attacking Kumble’s leadership. The BCCI, realizing they had a major problem on their hands, asked veterans Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly, and VVS Laxman to have a talk with Kohli to patch up the differences. But the talks failed. The arrogant, self-serving Kohli refused to listen to any compromise. He told the committee that he would not work with Kumble. After the meeting Tendulkar, Ganguly, and Laxman recommended to the BCCI that Kumble should continue as coach. But the BCCI, itself allegedly corrupt as a three-dollar bill, ignored the recommendation. Meanwhile Shastri, like a green snake in the green grass, started undermining and discrediting Kumble, and promoting himself as coach. But Shastri and Kohli had a problem. Shastri never applied for the coaching job and the application deadline had already passed. But the BCCI, instigated by continuing complaints from Kohli, and the green reptile Shastri, decided to reopen the application for one day to allow Shastri to apply. And the rest, as they say, is now history.

Shastri was made coach, and Kohli got everything that he wanted – captain, coach, selector, and boss. Well, almost everything. Kohli had gotten his wish for the third test in the West Indies. Pujara was dropped. Yes, the very same Pujara that just won India the first test against Australia with scores of 123 and 71 batting at number three. But you do remember what happened in the West Indies, don’t you? Kohli had to give up the number three spot that he so coveted after a rude awakening from the WI rookie, Alzarri Joseph. The 19-year old debutant, Joseph, rattled Kohli with pace and bounce. Looking to evade a bouncer, Kohli fell on his backside. He survived 8 deliveries before Joseph opened him up. He did a little better in the second innings (17b, 4 runs). 7 runs from two innings at the number three spot quickly put an end to that ego experiment.

Kohli may be the best batsman across all three formats in the game today but he fails the test of character and leadership. Kohli is an arrogant egotist who thinks the cricket world revolves around him. But don’t take my word for it, just look at his behavior on and off the field. Now a year later, the truth is finally coming out. What Kohli and Shastri did to Kumble was a dastardly deed and they will pay – make no mistake about it. Conscience does make cowards of us all.

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The views expressed in this column are solely those of the writer and do not necessarily represent the views of the THE WEST INDIAN.

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