Anil Kumble, the former India Test captain and the country’s most successful bowler, has been named as the coach of the men’s cricket team, with his one-year tenure to begin with India’s four-Test tour of the West Indies in July. The announcement was made on Thursday in Dharamsala, where the BCCI is holding its first annual cricket conclave, with board president Anurag Thakur and its secretary Ajay Shirke naming Kumble in a press conference.
There was speculation that Ravi Shastri, who was team director until April, would be accommodated in the position of batting coach but Thakur said that the remainder of the coaching staff had not been chosen. Applicants for the remainder of the coaching staff have until the end of June to submit their applications, which leaves the BCCI to pick a batting, bowling and fielding coach before India fly to the Caribbean in the first week of July.
This is the first coaching role for Kumble, India’s greatest match-winner with 619 Test wickets and 337 in ODIs, and something of a surprise given that he has no prior coaching experience at international or first-class level, which was one of the BCCI’s criteria for applicants. The 45-year-old was the last of the high-profile applicants to throw his name into the hat and, given his gigantic reputation and cricketing pedigree, this sudden development threw the BCCI’s hiring process for Indian’s coach into something of a tizzy.
Until he threw his name into the ring, the leading candidate for head coach was Kumble’s former India team-mate Shastri – they played five Tests together in the early 1990s – under whose watch from August 2014 to April 2016 India reached the semi-finals of two major ICC tournaments, rose to No 1 in the ICC Test rankings for eight weeks and beat Australia in Australia in a landmark 3-0 T20I series, apart from winning this year’s Asia Cup. Kumble’s appointment, much like that fizzing delivery which won him many, many wickets for India, is a proper googly.