What’s the story?
Out of favour Indian off-spinner, Harbhajan Singh requested skipper Virat Kohli and head coach Anil Kumble to sort any issues they might have with each other and work together for the benefit of the Indian cricket team.
Speaking exclusively to India Today, the 36-year-old said that his past experiences with both Kohli and Kumble was enough to convince him that neither would jeopardise the interests of the national team at any cost and expressed hope that the duo can sit down and talk out any differences in opinion they might have once India’s Champions Trophy campaign comes to an end.
“I don’t think Virat or Kumble will have any problems with each other. If people like Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly and VVS Laxman have spoken to them, then it’s the best. This is not the time for any clash and the team needs them together. Cricket should remain on top. If there are any issues, they should resolve them after the Champions Trophy,” he said.
Despite a highly successful run on the field since taking over as coach last year where India have beaten the likes of West Indies, England, New Zealand, Bangladesh, and Australia, reports of an apparent rift between Kumble and the players, led by skipper Virat Kohli, dominated the headlines ahead of the team's preparations for the ongoing Champions Trophy.
The BCCI have already gone ahead with the process of selecting the next Indian head coach, with Kumble also in the running as one of the six initial applicants, but Harbhajan feels that the best thing for Indian cricket would be for Kumble and Kohli to resolve the matter behind closed doors.
Having played alongside Kumble for many years before playing under his captaincy during the leg-spinner’s spell as skipper of the Test team, Harbhajan stated that Kumble was the man he always used to go for any guidance, as a spinner as well as a friend.
He also added that both Kohli and Kumble were mature individuals who had the best interests of Indian cricket at hand and though their approach may be extreme to each other, he feels that there is nothing that serious that cannot be resolved by a heart-to-heart to talk with each other.
While a few BCCI officials have already held talks with the duo, Bhajji is hopeful that the Cricket Advisory Committee (CAC) comprising of Indian legends Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly and VVS Laxman, who chose Kumble for the one-year period back in 2016 and also entrusted with the job of picking India’s next coach, can intervene and hold discussions with the duo to resolve the matter.
Reports earlier today suggested that Kumble is set to continue as coach of the Indian team for the short tour to West Indies that follows the Champions Trophy despite his contract running out on June 20.
With the distraction out of the way, both Kohli and Kumble will like to focus all their attention on India’s make-or-break match against South Africa on Sunday which will decide whether India’s progress to the semi-finals stage of the competition where they beat Pakistan in their opener before succumbing to a surprise loss against Sri Lanka on Thursday.
As someone who has known Kumble and Kohli for many years, Harbhajan has spoken wisely and it is by far the best solution Indian cricket can hope for. The captain-coach duo has been immensely successful on the field and it will be a shame that if the partnership gets broken due to some petty off-field issues that can be resolved with some healthy discussion.Published 10 Jun 2017, 13:17 IST