Is Indian Cricket ready for Split Captaincy?

Author: Arijit
13 Dec 2021 04:27:07
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Virat Kohli's dream of leading India to a Limited Overs ICC Tournament came to a stand-still as BCCI appointed Rohit Sharma as the Skipper of Indian team for the ODIs.

This came a month after BCCI appointed Rohit Sharma as the T20 Captain.

India played 95 ODIs under Virat Kohli's captaincy. Virat led India to 65 wins and faced 27 defeats with a winning percentage of 70.43. But more than the wins, it was the defeats in important matches that led to Kohli's short termination. India played 3 ICC events under Kohli's captaincy notably the ICC Champions Trophy, 2019 ODI World Cup and the 2021 T20 World Cup but failed to win a single title. However, Kohli won the U19 World Cup 2008 as a skipper.

With Rohit's appointment the current Indian Team comprises of a split captaincy setup with Virat Kohli leading India in Tests and Rohit Sharma in white ball cricket. Even the BCCI has given an official statement that they decided to go in with Multiple Captains as it would have created confusion to have two captains in two different forms of white ball cricket, ie the T20s and ODIs.

Now the question that arises, "Is Split Captaincy the way to go forward?"

Well, in a nutshell the answer is "Yes".

Although different former Indian players have weighed in favour of as well as against the Multi-Captain Theory, the number of odds exceeds the even by a fair margin.

The theory of Split Captaincy is not new in cricket. The teams of England, Australia, West Indies have had multiple captains at the past as well as in the present. Pakistan once had 3 different captains for 3 different formats of the game. Then why there is such a huge fuss regarding Multiple Captains Theory in India?

Let us analyze:

•Why is India's 2 Captain Theory different from other teams?

As mentioned earlier, the likes of England, Australia and even the West Indies have successfully implemented the idea of "Split Captaincy" but there is a catch.

If we observe carefully, we will see that the likes of Aaron Finch and Eoin Morgan who happen to be the skippers of Australia and England respectively in the limited overs format of cricket are not Test regulars. Even Kieron Pollard who took over as the West Indies white ball captain do not play Tests either.

But for India, both the likes of Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma are the mainstays of Indian batting in all 3 formats. So there will be instances when a person holding a Captaincy Wand in one format will be at the other end of the stick in another. And that might be a bitter pill to swallow for both of the players.

•Have there been instances of Split Captaincy in India before?

Well not technically yes. But there have been instances of India having multi-format captains.

After India's unceremonious group stage exit in the 2007 ODI World Cup, India's then captain Rahul Dravid resigned from the post of Indian Captain with immediate effect. It was then when India appointed Ms Dhoni as the ODI and T20 Skipper while Anil Kumble took over as the Test Captain. Kumble didn't feature in any ODIs post 2007 World Cup but MS Dhoni continued to play under Kumble's captaincy in Tests. This continued till 2008 after Kumble retired and Dhoni took over as the all format captain for Team India.

The following instance was in 2014 when Dhoni relinquished his Test captaincy and took retirement from Tests and Virat Kohli took over. However Dhoni continued to lead India in Limited Overs Cricket with Virat being named his deputy till 2017, when Virat Kohli became the captain of India in all 3 formats. Dhoni played under Kohli's captaincy till the 2019 World Cup before taking his international retirement.

So there have been stages when India had multiple captains but barring the period of 2007-08 when Ms Dhoni featured there was no such instances when the former captain was an all format player.

•Does Split Captaincy provide any special cushion to the Team?

Yes, it definitely does. Having Virat at helm in Tests and Rohit in ODIs and T20s will significantly reduce the workload of both the players in terms of captaining the side. Also having the presence of both Rohit and Virat in the locker room will ensure that there is always a second hand in the leadership team whenever the side needs it. Dhoni did it beautifully under Virat Kohli's tenure, so there is no point that why either of Virat and Rohit won't be available when the other one needs a hand.

•What can be the possible outcome from this setup?

Well, if we look at the bigger picture then the future looks definitely bright. The likes of Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma can actually combine and groom the upcoming future captain of Team India from the potential candidates. With Rahul Dravid at helm and knowing the bench strength of Team India inside out, it would work wonders if the trio can combine and tune together for the upliftment of Indian Cricket.

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