Alastair Cook was named as captain of the ICC’s 2016 Test team of the year. Virat Kohli didn’t find a place in the team. Ironically, the announcement came just two days after Kohli had led India to a thumping 4-0 series win over Cook’s England.
It was a series which ended with Cook under immense pressure to continue as captain and Kohli being hailed as the inspirational leader who’s guiding his team into a bold, indomitable era.
So how come Cook has been handed the reins of the team while Kohli doesn’t even make the cut? It’s probably the timing of the announcement more than anything that makes this a talking point, an indiscrepancy even.
For simply based on their performances during the voting period—between September 14, 2015 to September 20, 2016—the selection of Cook over Kohli isn’t as glaring as it seems. The yardstick comparing the two itself is a tad skewed, considering Cook appeared in 14 Tests as compared to Kohli’s 8. But the England captain averaged 55.17 in that period with two centuries and seven fifties. Kohli averaged 45.10 and scored one century, the 200 in Antigua.
Their captaincy numbers in that period though do make a case in favour of Kohli. While India won 5 out of the 8 Tests that they played—four against South Africa at home and four in the Caribbean—without a single loss; Cook won 6 and lost 5 out of the 14 that England were involved in. He did however lead them to a fabulous series win in South Africa earlier this year. Perhaps the ICC would be better of with announcing their awards in September or closer to the end of the voting period. At least, it’ll do away with the unnecessary ambiguity.
In fact, no Indian batsmen have been included in the annual Test XI despite Ajinkya Rahane having averaged 72.71 with three centuries during the voting period. However, it’s not surprising to see a sizable Indian presence in the ODI team. Kohli and Rohit Sharma, India’s limited-overs run-machines, are of course in there.
But so is Ravindra Jadeja, who scored 45 runs and took 3 wickets at 85.66 apiece in 5 matches from September to September. And Kohli, who’s yet to take over as India’s captain in ODI cricket, has been handed the reins to lead the best in the world.