India cricket and its captaincy conundrum

Indian cricket has dragged itself into a controversy with the captaincy question. Who is wrong? Virat Kohli? Rohit Sharma? BCCI? Selectors? Answer to this question will be a highly debatable one and depends on the side that you support. So, let’s not get there.

Unrelated to this controversy, there is another important question related to captaincy. Not that Rohit Sharma does not deserve it. He is the captain of IPL winning team for many years now. Massive force for India at the top of order. Experienced and mature cricketer. The most deserving person to take over the captaincy responsibility.

So, what is the concern then?

It is age.

Rohit Sharma is 34 now (will be 35 in few months). He probably has 2 more years of his best time ahead. Indian cricket will then be searching for a new captain again in 2 to 3 years. It is not that Indian cricket did not have captains for short duration. Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid and Anil Kumble were full time captains for very short time. But using them as reference point for future captaincy decisions is not the right path forward.

A batsman, bowler or wicket keeper are mainly individual contributors in a team. They excel in what they do as individuals and have a huge impact on the team success journey. Even a one year period at peak of their performance makes a terrific impact. In contrast, captaincy is a team management position. A captain needs time to groom individuals, set strategies that work in future, refocus individuals to align with his strategy, see a team through its ups and downs, be a mentor, be a coach, be a fan and be a critique of his team. All these take time. Rohit Sharma unfortunately will not have that one thing going in his favour. He was better placed to take over captaincy of the team after 2019 WC exit of India. Not that India did badly in that tournament, but Virat Kohli has had two chances to claim that cup and could not succeed. 2019 was the time to handover captaincy to Rohit, not late 2021.

Hugely successful captains of India in the past three decades have all had one thing in common. They were given full time captaincy when they were in mid or late 20s.

PlayerStarted full time captaincy in yearAge at that time
Mohammad Azharuddin198926
Sourav Ganguly200028
MS Dhoni200726
Virat Kohli201325
Rohit Sharma202134

Indian cricket would have been better off if they had invested in a captain who had more time. In the current setup, there are only 2 players who come close – Rishabh Pant and KL Rahul. Both of them have age on their side and can take Indian cricket from 2022. Of course, in next few years, we will see newer players coming to the playing XI and at least few of them with great potential and performance.

For now, Rohit Sharma as a captain is a short sighted decision by the Selectors and BCCI. Not that Rohit is not a great player or will not make a fantastic captain, he is 4 years late into the role. Not his fault though.

See you all in 2024. With the same question. Who is the next captain?

Please feel free to leave your comments below or drop your comments at my twitter handle VijayIvaturi

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