Something quite bizarre and fishy seems to be brewing between India’s Test captain Virat Kohli and the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI). It all began with BCCI President Sourav Ganguly claiming that he and the selectors had personally requested Virat Kohli not to step down as T20 captain. Kohli, however, came up with a rebuttal at an explosive press conference and stated that no one from the BCCI had ever spoken to him. However, it did not end there. Chairman of Selectors Chetan Sharma, while announcing the team for the ODIs, backed Ganguly and said that the BCCI did speak to Kohli and claimed that everyone was shocked with Kohli’s announcement of stepping down. Amid this, Kohli pulled out of the Johannesburg Test on the eve of the match, citing ‘back spasms.’ Here are a few observations that conclude that all might not be well between Virat Kohli and BCCI.
1. How did Kohi develop back spasms on match eve?
Until the toss happened and KL Rahul was seen with Dean Elgar, no one knew that Kohli would not be playing the 2nd Test. At the press conference, the day before, Team India coach Rahul Dravid had claimed that Kohli was raring to go and backed him to do well in the second Test. Even BCCI’s social media handles shared updates of the captain gearing up for the contest. Normally, an update is available before the game when there is a fitness issue regarding a player. However, Kohli being ruled out came like a bolt out of the blue. Something similar happened during the Mumbai Test against New Zealand; when Ajinkya Rahane was suddenly ruled out in the game, Kohli made a comeback.
2. Why did Ganguly break protocol?
This is a big question. Any query related to selection needs to be answered by the chief selector – in this case, Chetan Sharma. Ganguly had no business coming out and giving a statement on the sensitive matter. Former India captain Dilip Vengsarkar summed up the situation perfectly when he commented to Khaleej Times- “The thing is that Ganguly had no business to speak on behalf of the selection committee. Ganguly is the president of BCCI. Any issue about selection or captaincy, it’s the chairman of the selection committee who should speak.” By coming out in the open, Ganguly broke protocol and made life awkward for both Kohli and the selectors.
3. Did Kohli need to contradict Ganguly openly?
Kohli is not someone to hold back. He showed the guts to defend Mohammed Shami over the trolling controversy even though he advised against it. And kudos to him for that. Then again, one wonders if he needed to defend his side in the open at the press conference, that too on the eve of such a big tour. Of course, it could be argued that Ganguly started it first, but Kohli’s response opened up a whole new can of worms. He could have kept his side, but the same could have been done after the South African tour as well.
4. Chetan Sharma’s needless defence
Chetan Sharma should ideally have opened up on the decision to remove Kohli as captain before Ganguly, not after him. Now his response seems nothing but the backing of Ganguly’s stance. Also, all this while BCCI maintained silence on the controversy, stating that they will deal with it appropriately. What was the need for Chetan to speak up on the issue then, especially in the midst of such a big tour? Couldn’t he have waited and spoken to Kohli in-person post the tour?
5. Why isn’t Kohli attending press conferences?
This is another big question that is being asked. As captain, Kohli ought to be attending press conferences. But he hasn’t attended a single one in South Africa so far. This really defeats logic. Dravid’s claim that Kohli would be answering questions before his 100th Test was quite bizarre. Even that wouldn’t happen now. If at all Kohli plays in the final Test, that would be the 99th Test of his career. One can’t help but wonder what’s going on in Indian cricket at present.