NEW DELHI • Former captains yesterday lamented that Anil Kumble's departure as head coach - despite a successful year at the helm - will be regarded as a triumph for player power in Indian cricket.
Kumble said his position was "untenable" after captain Virat Kohli questioned his leadership style and told the Indian board he had reservations about the spin great extending his one-year stay.
The 46-year-old's original contract expired at the end of the Champions Trophy on Sunday, when India suffered a humiliating defeat by Pakistan in the final, but was extended to oversee the team's Tour of West Indies this month.
Instead, he stepped down on Tuesday, citing a breakdown in relations with his skipper.
India's highest Test wicket-taker added that he was surprised by Kohli's reservations.
"I see the coach's role akin to 'holding a mirror' to drive self-improvement in the team's interest," Kumble wrote on Twitter.
Former captain Sunil Gavaskar said the episode would send out the wrong message as the Indian board begins to search for Kumble's successor. "This is sending a signal for the next coach - either bow down to what the players want you to do, otherwise you, like one of India's cricket legends Anil Kumble, will have to step down," he said.
Former skipper Bishan Singh Bedi said he was not surprised by Kumble's decision, as no self-respecting person could have carried on in such an environment.
COACHES HAVE LITTLE POWER
This is sending a signal for the next coach - either bow down to what the players want you to do, otherwise you... will have to step down.
SUNIL GAVASKAR, former India captain, on Anil Kumble's stepping down.
"Gratitude has obviously been thrown out of window by whoever raising 'revolt' ", tweeted the spin great, calling Kumble's resignation a loss for Indian cricket.
Sambit Bal, editor in chief of ESPNCricinfo.com, also weighed in, suggesting that the manner of Kumble's exit set an unwelcome precedent for Indian cricket.
"It's really a case where the BCCI (Board of Control for Cricket in India) has backed the captain over the coach," he said. "The message is sent out to the next coach: Fall into line or else."
Former captain Virender Sehwag and Australia's Tom Moody are reported to be among the possible replacements for Kumble.
Other candidates are Englishman Richard Pybus, who has coached Pakistan and Bangladesh, former India manager Lalchand Rajput and former paceman Dodda Ganesh.
A three-man panel of Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly and VVS Laxman, who picked Kumble in June last year, will deliberate over Kumble's replacement.
Since Duncan Fletcher left in March 2015, India have struggled for stability, with Ravi Shastri and Sanjay Bangar both taking on temporary roles before Kumble's reign.
Kumble helped India reclaim the No. 1 Test ranking and maintained an unblemished record in five Test series, with losses coming only against Pakistan and in a Twenty20 series against the West Indies.
"I can't see Anil doing much wrong in one year," Gavaskar told NDTV. "Differences (can) happen in any team but see the results."
REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE