Mithali Raj-Ramesh Powar feud latest in player-coach battles in Indian cricket
This episode certainly opened a can of worms and the onus now lies on the BCCI to fix this mess. However, this is not an isolated incident of Indian players not seeing eye-to-eye with the coaches.Updated: Nov 30, 2018 10:04 IST
The ongoing feud between Mithali Raj and coach Ramesh Powar started when the seasoned campaigner was benched for the semi finals between India and England at the just-concluded Women’s World T20. While the team management cited tactical reasons for the move, Mithali Raj in her letter to the BCCI revealed that it was aimed at humiliating her and demeaning her position in the side.
Coach Ramesh Powar, who was targeted by Mithali, hit back with his own report which claimed the ODI captain threw tantrums and even threatened to quit if she was not included in the side.
This has certainly opened a can of worms and the onus now lies on the BCCI to fix this mess. However, this is not an isolated incident of Indian players not seeing eye-to-eye with the coaches.
We take a look at three of the most high-profile cases of player-coach battle in Indian cricket.
Sourav Ganguly-Greg Chappell
Greg Chappell, the iconic Australian batsman was appointed coach of the Indian team in 2005. It was touted to be a great move, one that could play a huge role in improving Indian cricket. However, things took a turn for the worse when a series of confrontations with the then captain Sourav Ganguly came to light.
As a result of the developments, Ganguly was axed as the captain of the side and his deputy, Rahul Dravid took over. The left-hander was also dropped from the ODI team and the Test squad. This was met with a huge outcry - there were protests on the street in West Bengal and even the Parliament of India debated the issue.
The left-hander was recalled later that year and was part of the side which was ousted from the 2007 Cricket World Cup in the very first round. As a result of this embarrassing performance, Greg Chappell was shown the door by the BCCI.
Virat Kohli-Anil Kumble
India’s most successful bowler in Test cricket, Anil Kumble was appointed coach of the Indian cricket team in 2016 and it was expected that he along with captain Virat Kohli would form a winning combination which would pave the way for India to be world beaters.
However, things did not pan out as expected and soon there were reports of mounting tension between the captain and coach. Senior players in the team, led by captain Virat Kohli, were reportedly not happy with head coach Anil Kumble’s methods of guiding the side, and they termed him as a “a hard task-master”.
During the home series against Australia, the relationship between the coach and captain reached a tipping point over selection issues. In the final Test at Dharamsala, Kumble had reportedly backed the inclusion of left-arm wrist spinner Kuldeep Yadav, which Kohli was unaware of and was taken by surprise.
Despite the tension, Kumble continued as the coach and India took part in the Champions Trophy which followed. After great performances in the league stages, India were dismantled by a spirited Pakistan side in the final. Kohli was not happy with the way Kumble spoke with the team after the result and the relationship had gone south.
As a result, Kumble did not apply for the contract extension and put down his papers.
“Post this intimation, I was informed for the first time yesterday by the BCCI that the Captain had reservations with my ‘style’ and about my continuing as the Head Coach. I was surprised since I had always respected the role boundaries between Captain and Coach. Though the BCCI attempted to resolve the misunderstandings between the Captain and me, it was apparent that the partnership was untenable, and I, therefore, believe it is best for me to move on,” he wrote in his resignation letter.
Mithali Raj-Ramesh Powar
The latest entrant to this infamous list is the bickering going on between Mithali Raj and Ramesh Powar.
Mithali, who has been an integral part of the Indian side for over two decades, was benched in the semi-final clash against England. On a a slow and sluggish pitch, the Indian batting struggled and could only manage 112. England won the match without breaking a sweat and this started speculations of unease in the Indian camp.
Captain Harmanpreet Kaur maintained that the decision was purely tactical, but Mithali wrote a scathing letter to BCCI stating that she was being targetted and that the coach was biased towards her.
Ramesh Powar, who has had a good run as a coach with the side, hit back and said that Mithali threw tantrums and always kept her interests over the team’s needs.
“I hope Mithali stops blackmailing, pressurising coaches and putting her interest first than the team,” Powar said while summarising Mithali’s performance on the tour.
The BCCI has to now ensure that this mess is cleared as soon as possible.