Rohit Sharma deserves better. The controversy surrounding the ODI captain has put unnecessary pressure on him every time he leads the team in the format. Keyboard warriors would wait to pounce on every slip.
When Virat Kohli resigned as captain of the T20I, he anointed Rohit as his successor, ensuring a smooth transition. But Kohli has not given up the ODI captain on his own terms and after the brutal trolling that BCCI President Sourav Ganguly and Secretary Jay Shah faced on social media over the change in leadership, Rohit will walk a tightrope as captain.
Five Indian Premier League (IPL) titles that are leading Mumbai Indians prove Rohit’s credentials as a captain. He was Kohli’s longtime deputy in limited-over cricket, representing 10 ODIs and 19 T20Is before going full-time during the three-game home series against New Zealand, starting with a clean, full-time stake. As for his skills as a captain, he has the stamp of approval from Kohli and Ganguly.
– Rohit Sharma (@ ImRo45) November 21, 2021
Rohit is a great white baller himself who has taken his A game to test cricket in the past few seasons. Unfortunately, social media trolls hardly care about logic and indulge in strong personal likes and dislikes. From this perspective, Rohit is judged in every game against Kohli. He will surely have the latter’s support on site. But Kohli’s supporters, and he himself has 45.3 million followers on Twitter, may not be so friendly. Regardless of its IPL success, leadership in India is a different game. Rohit deserves a decent acclimatization period. The way things turned out, he won’t understand.
At 34, Rohit is a year older than Kohli and has a dubious fitness record. The most recent setback was a hamstring injury that excluded him from testing in South Africa. The injury could also be a cause for concern for the BCCI and national selectors as he is now the white ball captain and two world championships next year – the T20 showpiece next year and the 50-over mega-event in the Year 2023 – 2 years are planned.
The 2023 World Cup in India was one reason Kohli wanted to continue as ODI captain and lead the country in a home tournament of this magnitude. It would be naive to think that he would give up his pursuit. Rohit needs runs and victories to cement his ODI captivity.
Kohli could take on the BCCI because he is arguably the only world star in Indian cricket with a brand value of $ 237.7 million (Duff & Phelps estimate). On the other hand, this has never happened in the history of Indian cricket; a player who publicly contradicts the BCCI president. Ganguly did the right thing by failing to respond to Kohli’s testimony with a major overseas series around the corner. It is known that the BCCI will have a clear conversation with Kohli on this matter. All in all, the test skipper now has to score runs too.
Under the scanner
For a batsman, even of Kohli’s reputation, runs are the only currency. In an elongated lean field and without a century of testing for more than two years, Kohli will have little margin for error. A weak streak in South Africa will put him on a slippery slope. Players usually end up on the losing side in their arguments with the administrators. Sunil Gavaskar and Imran Khan were glorious exceptions for their consistency and their keen sense of timing. From now on, every Kohli failure will be scrutinized.
It is undesirable for Indian cricket to be caught in a narrative swamp right now. The BCCI, proposed by its president, said Kohli had been instructed not to give up the T20I captaincy. Kohli publicly contradicted this, saying he was not told not to give up the captaincy in the shortest possible format. Beyond true and false, there is a gray area that caused the problem.
Chances are both Ganguly and Kohli are telling the truth as there was a meeting between the two when the latter decided out of nowhere to abandon the T20I captain and notified the BCCI, expressing his wish to to continue as a test and ODI skipper. The BCCI president discussed the pros and cons of the decision with the player. But the big question is that if Kohli were told categorically, he couldn’t continue as an ODI captain after relinquishing the T20I captaincy. Ganguly’s quote to The Indian Express didn’t exactly indicate it, nor did Kohli’s comment at Wednesday’s press conference.
According to a BCCI insider who was privy to the developments, there was a meeting between Kohli and BCCI officials prior to the T20 World Cup, at which the former informed the board of his decision to step down from the T20I captaincy. Ganguly, in turn, explained to him the advantages and disadvantages of such a decision. “In addition to the officials, voters were also present at this meeting, and the President spoke about the advantages and disadvantages of the role of the T20I captain through Kohli,” said the BCCI official.
Before the BCCI could send a press release after the meeting, Kohli made his decision about a social media post public.
As it turns out, Ganguly was referring to the pre-T20 World Cup meeting where he discussed the T20I captain’s problems with Kohli, while Kohli interpreted it differently. “It’s probably about interpretations, not true or false,” said the BCCI official.
Kohli spoke about the announcement from Chief Returning Officer Chetan Sharma, who called him an hour and a half before the South Africa test team was announced. Gavaskar refused to give too much importance to Kohli on a TV show.
One section in the BCCI sees Kohli’s captaincy problem as a classic case of player power, forcing Anil Kumble to step down as head coach of the Indian team.
In his case, by abandoning the T20I captain, Kohli allegedly threw the glove on the BCCI and asked the board to remove him as best they could as the ODI skipper. That is exactly what the BCCI did.
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