Virat Kohli’s press conference before leaving for the India vs South Africa series 2021, in the wake of the Board of Control for Cricket in India’s (BCCI) debacle, is a good time to question whether Indian cricket has learned anything from its past. No, it seems.
If such were the case, Sourav Ganguly—who has firsthand experience with the humiliation of being demoted as a player—would not have allowed the story to get so out of hand. When it comes to leadership, forget about Kohli, no one should be told of a choice in the last minutes of a phone conversation or an e-mail sent to the media.
However, it seems to have shown an astonishing lack of humanity by stoking several conspiracy ideas that finally led Kohli to tell his version of the tale, which is radically different from Ganguly’s perspective.
Changes in the Indian squad became evident when Ravi Shastri stepped down as coach after the World T20 in the United Arab Emirates, where India failed to go beyond the quarterfinal round. Even though Kohli had a stellar bilateral record, he was unable to replicate it in ICC competitions. The white-ball team, however, was stymied by some bizarre selection decisions in the starting XI.
Even if the selectors chose to retain Kohli for ODI matches, he stepped down as T20I captain. You can only have one white-ball captain at a time, although logic says otherwise.
However, it wasn’t as straightforward as it first seemed. But Kohli says the discussion never took place, and Ganguly says he attempted to convince him to remain. There was also a delay in the ODI squad selection, which may have been due to the selectors needing more time to think about and debate the leadership. When they finally made a decision, they informed Kohli of it the morning before the selection for the Test matches.
The fact that former players have already done the hard work makes them more qualified for managerial positions. When it comes to sports administration, it’s thought that they know how to phase out leadership and athletes. That being said, it’s hard not to be critical of the handling of the Kohli situation.
For the last five years, Kohli has not only been India’s finest batsman, but he is also the face of Indian cricket. Like MS Dhoni, in my opinion. Similar to Sachin Tendulkar in this regard. That image has helped BCCI make billions for years. As a result, the board held off on thanking Kohli for his service as ODI captain for at least a full 20 hours—or maybe responded to the social media outcry.
Isn’t it time to show respect to Kohli as the team’s departing captain? Clive Lloyd has a victory percentage of 70.73%, Ricky Ponting 76.14, and Hansie Cronje 73.70%, which is the fourth-best record in the format of anybody who has helmed more than 80 matches. The BCCI missed the train, to put it mildly.
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The Indian dressing room has a few skeletons in its closet. The cricket board, its officers, and the media’s role is to keep the team’s image of unity intact.
We could have done things a little differently when it came to the transfer of power. As an alternative, the stakeholders may have held a joint press conference or self-produced interview. There were conflicting reports about Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli for weeks, but BCCI did nothing about it. The game wasn’t cricket, for sure, but this was an epic own goal in football.
The most egregious violation of trust, however, occurred at an unprecedented level.
Former BCCI president N Srinivasan, whether supporting Sourav Ganguly, Raj Singh Dungarpur for Mohammad Azharuddin, Jagmohan Dalmiya for Ganguly, has always been unwavering in their backing for India’s captain.
A new chapter in the Kohli-Ganguly story has now been written. Ideally, Indian cricket’s history and present should have formed a stronger foundation. With two idols on opposing ends and a great such as Dravid playing tightrope coach, we now have something of an anomaly.
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The captain is obligated to defend his teammates. And Kohli has performed well in this role, whether it was in loss or when he spoke up in defense of a teammate who was being bullied by hooligans. When it came time to let him go as white-ball captain, the BCCI did not stand up for him.
India’s Test captain, Virat Kohli, has learned the hard way that you can no longer rely on your bosses. Any cricket board would not want to create this precedent.