The Ganguly push
It is not surprising that Ganguly backed his former team-mate. Both of them were warriors on the cricket field and refused to give an inch to their opponents. But there's more to it than the just mutual admiration.
Last year, Ganguly had lost to Shastri in his own bid to become the coach. It is little surprise that the former Indian captain pulled out all the stops to ensure that Shastri did not get a second term. Meanwhile, as the head of Supreme Court appointed committee, which had recommended sweeping reforms in the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), Justice Lodha played an indirect role in Kumble's appointment.
Besides a host of changes to the BCCI, Justice Lodha had recommended setting up of a players' association and suggested that Kumble be made its member. By appointing Kumble, the BCCI has hit two targets with one stone - it killed the possibility of him becoming a member of the players' body and also asserted its independence in taking decisions.
Shastri would have in all likelihood won a second term had it not been for Ganguly's all out support for Kumble's candidature. In fact, Shastri deserves kudos for turning the Men in Blue into world beaters in the past 18 months. Under his charge, India became the world's No. 1 Test team and bagged the no. 2 slot in both ODIs, and T20s.
He also took India to the semi-final of the World Cup and the World Twenty 20. An Asia Cup title, a series win against South Africa at home and a rare away series win against Sri Lanka were some of his other notable achievements. But for some inexplicable reason, he could not break much ice with Sourav.
Ganguly and Shastri never really shared a cosy equation. When the latter bagged the coaching job in 2015, the rift deepened. Ganguly apparently skipped Shastri's presentation to the Cricket Advisory Committee (CAC) two days back. This despite the venue of the CAC deliberations being shifted from Mumbai to Kolkata on his insistence.
When Shastri was hooked via video link from Bangkok, where he is currently holidaying, Ganguly was missing in the Taj Bengal conference room. BCCI members say it was because Ganguly had other prior commitments. The former team director was interviewed by Sachin Tendulkar, VVS Laxman, and Sanjay Jagdale, the other three members of the CAC.
The CAC was divided over Kumble and Shastri with Ganguly backing his former teammate, while other members contending that there should be a strong reason to remove Shastri, who is believed to have presented a rock-solid case for himself.
But Ganguly was not too impressed. Kumble's name did not initially figure in the shortlisted 21 applicants because he had reportedly failed to meet one key requirement. One of the requirements for the job was prior experience in coaching a state or national team. But Ganguly ensured that Kumble was back in the reckoning.
Whatever may have sealed the deal for India's finest spinner, his credentials are impeccable. His record speaks for itself. With Dhoni fading fast, and Virat Kohli and his brand of courageous cricket making waves, Kumble would add a balanced and calm head to proceedings.