A case against best players becoming captains in Indian cricket


Just last day, Jadeja willingly gave back captaincy to MS Dhoni citing a drop in form due to the pressure. CSK board unanimously agreed to it and asked MSD to take back the control from Jaddu. CSK went on to win the next match comfortably with Jaddu giving away just 15 runs in 3 overs in a 200+ score match. All of this begs the question, “why do we insist on making our best batsmen the captain?”

Happened with Kohli and now with Rohit Sharma. Both of these cricketers were at the peak of their careers when they were made the captains. In the case of Kohli, we can see that his career has been going downhill since mid-2019. Even when he was batting well, he rarely gave good performances in big matches. Under his captaincy, team India lost many many semi-finals and finals, games in which Kohli scored big runs under MSD.

Rohit Sharma also seems to be going through this same pressure of captaincy for India as well as Mumbai Indians. In the ongoing IPL for example, MI lost all of their first 8 matches under Rohit Sharma. In the 9 games he has played so far, Rohit Sharma was able to cross 30 run mark just twice. Furthermore, he was out for single-digit scores on 4 occasions out of these 9 matches. It is natural to assume that Rohit Sharma’s bad form is one of the biggest reasons for MI’s poor performance in this year’s IPL.

Should best players not be given captaincy roles?

It is quite often seen that captaincy dilutes a player’s performance; sure it does elevate it too on many occasions, case in point, Dhoni, Williamson, Ponting. In most cases, however, it is the former.

A very good reason for captaincy being given to a defender and not the best attacker or midfielder in football is the pressure that captaincy inflicts. Very rarely were Ronaldo and Messi, probably the greatest footballers of all time, handed captaincy roles. Players like Neymar, Lewandowski, Kane, Mbappe, Salah, Mane and many others currently considered the best are not given captaincy because it would be detrimental to their game.

In cricket, however, as a player grows and becomes very good, he is suddenly weighed down to lead the team. It is not to say that cricketers are opposed to the idea of becoming captains. They actually aspire to become captains, unlike footballers.

Why do cricketers aspire to be captains?

The biggest reason for cricketers wanting to become captains for their respective teams is the security that the position allows. Captains are the first players on the team sheet. No matter how bad a captain plays, he would still be in the team. Just look at the state of Shikhar Dhawan in the Indian cricket team. He was at the peak of his career and among the first names on the team sheet but was soon sidelined due to one injury.

Not only that but his reentry to the Indian team was further blocked just for the fact that he was not interested in the power politics of the team. He did not fall into any of the three camps, namely the Dhoni, Kohli and Rohit camps and hence other players were preferred over him.

Every captain in my lifetime – Ganguly, Dhoni and Kohli have had an ugly end to their captaincy careers.

Ganguly was forcefully removed by Greg Chappel, Dhoni had similar ugly spats with the media and fans for overstaying his welcome. Kohli was the latest of these power-hungry captains refusing to leave office.

Another reason why cricketers aspire to become captains is the power that it comes with. As opposed to football where the captain has very less say in team selection and other playing decisions of the team, cricket captains are very different. Here the coach is not as powerful as the captain and often plays second fiddle to the captain. It is this political power that attracts cricketers to the captaincy role.

Who should be the next Indian cricket team’s captain?

I honestly believe that had Tendulkar captained team India for more games, his career would have ended sooner. He was however smart enough to understand that cricket is not about captaincy but batting or bowling. He soon stepped off the captaincy post and stretched his career further.

The current crop of players like Kohli, Dhoni and Rohit are so enamoured by the captaincy that losing it feels like the end of everything. These players at this point are more of a captain than a batsman or a cricketer. I am afraid that Pant’s, Rahul’s and other upcoming cricketers’ careers will be short-lived if they consider captaincy as the epitome of a cricket career. In the wise words of Tony Stark,

If you’re nothing without the captaincy, then you shouldn’t have it.

Personally, I believe a middle-order batsman should be the captain as he has ample time and distance to think about batting as well bowling for their team. What are your thoughts? Do you agree with my opinion?

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