While the Board of the Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has invited applications for new selectors, having sacked the previous one led by Chetan Sharma, the Indian cricket board has clarified one thing. One of the mandates for the new committee that will be chosen is to pick captains across the game’s three formats. In short, India might, at last, be dividing the responsibility of captaincy into different formats.
As per reports, Rohit Sharma, who failed to lead India to victory in the T20 World Cup 2022, will remain the Test and one-day captain. However, the onus of leading the T20I squad could be given to all-rounder Hardik Pandya, who is captaining the T20 team in New Zealand. The demand for the same has been growing ever since India were ousted from the semi-final of the T20 World Cup by England in a rather embarrassing fashion – a 10-wicket thrashing.
No point delaying the split
In the past, greats like MS Dhoni, VVS Laxman, and Kapil Dev have expressed opposition to split captaincy, claiming that the concept cannot work in Indian cricket. However, there is more than one reason why the Men in Blue need to take the big step to improve Indian cricket. The times are changing, and BCCI and the team ought to adapt to the same.
Because of the volume of cricket being played, one can only expect one captain to lead the team in some of the game’s three formats. Till 1971, only one version of cricket existed, so there was no question of splitting the captaincy responsibility. Even when ODIs became popular by the 1990s, it was still feasible to expect one leader to take charge of two teams. That was because the amount of cricket being played was manageable. That is definitely not the case now.
Consider this. India’s team for the tour of New Zealand and Bangladesh was announced during the midst of the Men in Blue’s T20 World Cup 2022 campaign. Team India hardly got time to reflect on their semi-final loss in Adelaide, and before they knew it, they were in New Zealand for the white ball series. Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli, and KL Rahul have been rested, so Pandya has been named captain – a hint for the future?
Pandya taking on T20I captaincy is the sanest decision the selectors can make when it comes to splitting the leadership responsibilities. Rohit is 35 and had a disastrous World Cup with the bat. The Men in Blue will only achieve a little by continuing with him as T20 captain. He will be 37 by the time the 2024 T20 World Cup is held in West Indies and USA. There is no guarantee that he will be around for that tournament. Thus, the focus should be on building a squad for the next T20 World Cup. And that can happen only when the selectors continue with Pandya as captain, even after New Zealand.
Lessons from England and Australia
The Men in Blue can take a leaf out of the book of the last two T20 World Cup champions – Australia and England. The Aussies have been following the concept of split captaincy for a while now, and it has worked wonders for them both in Tests and the limited-overs formats. Pat Cummins has been doing a great job since taking over Test leadership from Tim Paine, while Aaron Finch led Australia to a surprise T20 World Cup win last year.
England’s example is even greater. They first had Eoin Morgan, who took them to ODI World Cup glory in 2019. Joe Root did a decent job as Test captain before his struggles began, but England continued with different captains, giving the longer-format leadership to Ben Stokes. After Morgan’s retirement, Jos Buttler has seamlessly slipped into the role of limited overs leader, guiding England to victory in Australia’s T20 World Cup 2022.
The success of England and Australia prove the merits of split captaincy far outweigh its disadvantages.