Former member of the Board of Control for Cricket in India’s Committee of Administrators Ramchandra Guha has called for Virat Kohli’s influence over the board and team management to be moderated.
In a column for The Telegraph, Guha wrote that Indian cricket today, including administrators, selectors and coaching staff, are “all pygmies before Kohli”. The historian believes this is one of the reasons India have not been able to achieve overseas success.
Guha was part of the Committee of Administrators for four months last year when he got a chance to witness “the reach and range of Kohli’s dominating self”, he wrote. “The BCCI’s officials worshipped him even more than the Indian cabinet worships Narendra Modi. They deferred to him absolutely, even in matters that were not within the Indian captain’s ken.”
Quoting examples of Kohli’s wide-reaching clout within Indian cricket, Guha said that the BCCI insisted on the Indian captain’s consent to be taken to discuss things such as the Future Tours Programme and the functioning of the National Cricket Academy. “The BCCI men always used the captain’s first name in referring to him, perhaps to indicate intimacy; however, in concrete behavioural terms, the proximity was more akin to that between servant and master,” Guha wrote.
“To the corruption and cronyism that has so long bedevilled Indian cricket has recently been added a third ailment; the superstar syndrome. Kohli is a great player, a great leader, but in the absence of institutional checks and balances his team will never achieve the greatness both he and his fans desire,” he added.
Guha had resigned from the CoA in June.
Kumble vs Shastri
On the India head coach saga last year, when Anil Kumble made way for Ravi Shastri, Guha wrote that Kohli clashed with the legendary spin bowler because he alone probably was in the same league as the captain as a cricketer and a character. Guha questioned why Kumble was replaced “by someone so strikingly inferior, in character and cricketing achievement” to Kohli – and someone with “no coaching experience”.
Providing the answer himself, Guha wrote that the CoA chairman Vinod Rai had “surrendered his liberties and his independence when confronted by the force of Kohli’s personality”. Guha added that Shastri was chosen over candidates with more coaching experience, such as Tom Moody, because Rai, Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly and VVS Laxman “were intimidated by the Indian captain into subordinating the institution to the individual”.
“The unwisdom of that decision was masked when India played at home, against weak opposition. But it can no longer be concealed,” Guha wrote.
Cricket vs commerce
Further digging his dagger into the BCCI, Guha wrote that India might not have been 0-2 down in the South Africa series had the board not cancelled the practice match and had the selectors “been wiser or braver”.
Guha argued that had Ajinkya Rahane played both Tests, had Bhuvneshwar Kumar played in Centurion, and had India gone to South Africa two weeks earlier than they did instead of “playing gully cricket at home with the Sri Lankans”, the result of the series might have been different.
Guha wrote that the BCCI and India may be the “centre of world cricket” in monetary terms but weren’t in sporting terms. He also called for the national selectors to be “cricketers of real achievement” like they once were.
“If not great cricketers themselves, they must at least have the desire and authority to stand up to the captain,” he wrote. “Likewise, the coach must have the wisdom and courage to, when necessary, assert his authority over Kohli’s. And the administrators must schedule our calendar to maximise our chances of doing well overseas, rather than with an eye to their egos and their purses.”