Ramchandra Guha, who resigned from the Board of Control for Cricket in India's (BCCI) Committee of Administrators (CoA) in June last year, has said that Virat Kohli's influence on most matters concerning administration of the sport in the country has become overbearing.
Calling almost everyone "pygmies before Kohli" in a column for The Telegraph, Guha wrote, “The BCCI’s officials worshipped him (Kohli) even more than the Indian cabinet worships (Prime Minister) Narendra Modi. They deferred to him absolutely, even in matters that were not within the Indian captain’s ken.”
During his four-month tenure in the CoA, Guha saw “the reach and range of Kohli’s dominating self”.
The BCCI, said Guha, sought Kohli's consent even for matters related to the Future Tours Programme and the National Cricket Academy.
Guha, a historian and a writer, attributed the above as one of the reasons for India's moderate-to-no success out of the subcontinent.
“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,” he wrote in the column.
“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.”
Guha added that the present CoA, which is headed by Vinod Rai and includes Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly and VVS Laxman, is "intimidated" by Kohli's growing stature.
He wrote that Rai had “surrendered his liberties and his independence when confronted by the force of Kohli’s personality” and added that selection of Ravi Shastri as coach after the Anil Kumble saga was because the entire CoA was "intimidated by the Indian captain into subordinating the institution to the individual”. That's why Shastri, a man with "no coaching experience", was selected over seasoned coaches like Tom Moody.
“The unwisdom of that decision was masked when India played at home, against weak opposition. But it can no longer be concealed,” he wrote.
Guha further added that the 2-0 scoreline in the ongoing Test series in South Africa was because the board and selectors were not "wiser or braver" when the proposal to cancel the practice match was forwarded by the team management.
Instead of "playing gully cricket at home with the Sri Lankans", he wrote, India could have travelled early to South Africa and played a few practice matches.
“If not great cricketers themselves, they (the selectors) must at least have the desire and authority to stand up to the captain,” Guha 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.”