Anil Kumble (Yin) to Virat Kohli’s (Yang)
A search of the word “foil” on google shows the following result, “In fiction, a foil is a character who contrasts with another character (usually the protagonist) in order to highlight particular qualities of the other character. In some cases, a subplot can be used as a foil to the main plot”. Given the recent appointment of Anil Kumble, as the head coach of the Indian Cricket team, Siddharth Monga of ESPN Cricinfo, recently highlighted the qualities of Anil Kumble and how he is a perfect foil to Virat Kohli.
The article is pretty convincing and the author through this article only intends to solidify the stance the stance of Kumble being the perfect foil to Kohli. A reference to the relationship that one might notice in the formation of this duo is the Chinese philosophy of yin and yang (also yin-yang or yin yang, "dark—bright") describes how opposite or contrary forces are actually complementary, interconnected, and interdependent in the natural world, and how they give rise to each other as they interrelate to one another. In a way, Kumble’s yin will be Kohli’s yang.
The relationship one envisages will be about balance and maximizing the potential in respect of the available resources. Much has been said about the fact that Kumble lacks the requisite experience. A glance though across world sports shows that new and young managers with out of the box ideas being appointed to the top spot are not a rare phenomenon anymore. Sometimes it may work out, sometimes it may not, the example of Pep Guardiola at Barcelona or Garry Monk at Swansea City are just some of the recent examples.
Understandably, Kumble is one of the legends of Indian cricket. A team man to the core, making the most of his talent often underrating himself and always putting team before self. Some of the best moments that I can recollect of the top of my mind is his rollicking partnership with Javagal Srinath to snatch a win in the Titan Cup against Australia, under the captaincy of Sachin Tendulkar. The other moment being the jaw breaking effort in West Indies, in the most extreme circumstances.
But the most iconic moment, was at the Oval, when he scored his maiden test century and the reaction of the dressing room and the watching crowd. If one hears the commentary of Naseer Hussain, you can actually feel the elation of the crowd and he captures it in the most perfect words possible, by appreciating his persistence.
The Input of Kumble
From his early days, Anil Kumble has been one of the great thinkers of Indian cricket. Be it utilizing the surface or the conditions, his keen observation powers have helped him win more than his exertions. A smart man, he knew when and where to target rather than being gung-ho all the time. Unfortunately, he didn’t get to captain India for a longer time and a cricketer fiercely proud of his ability to give 100 percent all the time, he retired quietly the moment he realized his powers were waning.
With Kumble being the coach, he will be able to channel the team in a manner which will help it maximize the results with minimum efforts. A tactician by heart, he will be able to utilize and make the best of resources. As a player, he rarely moaned about external factors choosing to focus on his strengths rather than worrying about the opposition. As a coach, he will bring that same sharpness and edge to the team, with players being handed out detailed rosters along with an arm on the shoulder approach and hitting the right buttons.
Virat Kohli’s gung-ho approach is well known, Kumble obviously knows that and will look to make him channel his efforts in the right direction. Although in the past few years Kohli has tempered down, Kumble’s appointment comes at the most opportune moment as it will help the team which is full of youngsters get a better understanding of their strengths and to cut out the weakness.
Undoubtedly, Ravi Shastri did a great job, instilling a greater mental strength but the final step was always a shot away. Taking a step back and letting the youngsters enjoy their cricket and letting them learn from their mistakes was a novel way, but in international cricket where careers are made and destroyed easily, it was always a risk at times.
No Guarantees and a cautious approach
Though there are no guarantees that the approach of the duo who are polar opposites will be effective, a past record of Kumble channeling Kohli’s energy and aggression to focus on cricket yielded spectacular results. In his earlier stint with Royal Challengers Bangalore as a player, he helped Kohli focus. From there on Kohli has gone from strength to strength.
The BCCI will hope that Kohli can take another level along with his teammates. Players such as Rahane, Jadeja, Dhawan, Sharma are talented but consistency has been lacking. Similarly, Ashwin will stand to benefit immensely. He should be able to pick up tricks about the surfaces and using his height to extract bounce and spin even on dead pitches. Anil Kumble, who did his fair share of bowling on dead pitches will help the bowlers deal with such issues mentally and physically.
Furthermore, by handing Kumble just a one-year contract, the BCCI may just have given them an exit option in case the former India captain doesn't prove to be a success. Former players have already stated their support complimenting his meticulousness as to preparation.
Kumble's presentation, reportedly, had plans for every series over the next three years as per the current FTP. Kumble though is a pragmatic person and he knows at the end of the day it is on the basis of the results that he will be remembered for the position of the Indian coach is that of a double edged sword.