Virat Kohli-Anil Kumble ‘rift’ unlikely to affect India: Stephen Fleming

Despite perceived differences between India skipper Virat Kohli and coach Anil Kumble dominating the team’s ICC Champions Trophy build-up, they won’t let it affect the team’s campaign, says former New Zealand captain Stephen Fleming.

icc champions trophy 2017 Updated: Jun 03, 2017 20:48 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, Mumbai
Champions Trophy 2017,ICC Champions Trophy,Indian cricket team
Media reports claim there has been a rift between Indian cricket team captain Virat Kohli (L) and coach Anil Kumble.(PTI)

The extent to which the Virat Kohli-Anil Kumble rift has hurt India’s morale would be known only when the team gets down to defend the ICC Champions Trophy in the United Kingdom.

The captain-coach saga has dominated the headlines since they landed in the United Kingdom a few days ago. The events that have unfolded are not the best advertisement for the India team.

So, will the turmoil in the Indian dressing room affect India’s campaign? Former New Zealand skipper Stephen Fleming, who is familiar with Indian cricket through his IPL coaching stints, doesn’t think so.

“To be honest, a little bit of controversy or turmoil around the Indian side is the nature… it’s just (about) different personalities. Once the players take the field, I think it would be the last thing on their mind,” Fleming told HT on Saturday.

READ | Virat Kohli on ‘rift’ with Anil Kumble: Stop writing rumours, let us play

Used to pressure

“They are used to playing under pressure with expectations. That will be the main thing. I don’t think there will be any hangover from that (rift) coming on the field,” said Fleming, who is part of ESPNcricinfo’s expert panel for the Champions Trophy.

Several experts have criticised Kohli over the timing of raising the issue in the build-up to the Champions Trophy, but Fleming said there was nothing like a perfect time for such things.

READ | Virat Kohli hits out at media for spreading rumours, says no issues with coach Anil Kumble

“There is nothing called good timing for discussions like these. There is a discussion point off the field, but I am sure it is going to be debated and played out by the powers-that-be. The situation is not going to change the motivation between the two,” he said.

Fleming, who was the New Zealand’s longest serving captain, said modern day coaching was all about man management.

Asked about the qualities a coach should possess to deal with the star-studded Indian team, Fleming, who coached Chennai Super Kings for eight years and has guided Rising Pune Supergiant in the last two seasons, said only a person with first-hand knowledge of the situation can say with certainty.

READ | Virat Kohli, Anil Kumble responsible enough to deal with ‘rift’: Sourav Ganguly

Man management key

He added: “From the general coaching point of view, man management is now very important. The players are playing so much of cricket there is not much time to do technical work. Man management for me is at the top of the list and the relationships you build with the players and the team is very important.”

Many expected Fleming to throw his hat in the ring for the India coach’s job when the BCCI advertised late last month, but he didn’t.

“From a cricket point of view, it was appealing. But I committed a lot of time for playing and it is my time now to give it back to my family. It is that period of my time where I would like to spend more time at home and I am lucky enough to be involved with cricket which I love through the IPL and Big Bash. I have got a good balance right now.”

First Published: Jun 03, 2017 20:43 IST