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Time for split captaincy and split coaching

Virat Kohli has been playing nonstop cricket for several years and some fear the additional strain of captaincy may cause him to get burnt out.

Arjun Hemmady

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Virat Kohli has been leading all formats of the Indian cricket team with distinction since early 2017. He is the glue that holds the Indian batting order together. He is also the most enthusiastic player on the field and a very proactive captain. However, neither has RCB won an IPL nor has the Indian cricket team won an ICC tournament under him. Hence, the time may be right for shaking things up a bit.

Rohit Sharma’s career found a second wind in 2013 since he started opening the batting and leading the Mumbai Indians to 4 IPL titles (albeit in odd years). He has consistently averaged above 50 with the bat since the last 7 years and there have been many who have observed his calm, composed, and astute leadership of his IPL Team. However, some may also argue that having international stalwarts like Malinga and Pollard in the Mumbai Indians has made Rohit’s job easier.

Rohit has also led the Indian Team with wins like the Asia Cup and Nidahas Trophy, both in 2018 when Virat was injured. With the T20 World Cup 2020 mostly being rescheduled, the time may be right for giving Rohit the reigns of the T20 and ODI sides with Virat continuing as the Test Captain. Similarly, the idea of having two coaching staffs, one for white-ball cricket and the other for red-ball cricket can also be considered. While the basic underlying skills remain the same, their application varies in each format.

In T20 the emphasis is more on impact while in Test Cricket, it is on building an innings and outsmarting the batsmen while bowling. While India’s performances under current Coach Ravi Shastri since 2017 have been consistent, it has not been faultless. The failure to find a stable No. 4 batsman for the 50 Over World Cup is something that cost India dearly in the semi-finals.

Also, the 4-1 loss to England in 2018 took away the sheen from the otherwise stellar performances of the Test side. India has had split captaincy in the recent past like from 2014 to 2017 when Virat was the Test Captain and M.S. Dhoni the white ball Captain. Virat has been playing nonstop cricket for the past several years and some fear that the additional strain of captaincy may cause him to get burnt out. One of the positives of Indian cricket is that there has almost always been a succession plan when it comes to captaincy.

For example, when Anil Kumble retired from Test cricket in 2008, Dhoni, who was already the white ball captain took over creating an almost seamless transition. Similar was the case when Dhoni stepped down from captaincy in 2017 paving the way for Virat to take over. Virat is the fittest cricketer in the world and there is no doubt that he will continue to play for the foreseeable future. That being said, an infusion of fresh ideas can never hurt. Hence, having split captaincy and coaching staffs can be a move in the right direction.

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