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Controversy over Kohli’s exit as ODI captain is less about decision itself, more about way it was made and communicated

🔴 But grace and BCCI have historically not gone well together. There was no “thank you” note in the press release to Kohli, not even a mention of his name in the note to elevate Rohit Sharma.

By: Editorial |
Updated: December 17, 2021 9:49:56 am
Virat Kohli who might understandably feel hurt about the way he was dethroned, has now pitted himself in a corner with the board, having essentially called them liars.

There seems to be no great controversy about the decision to replace Virat Kohli with Rohit Sharma as the white-ball captain, but Indian cricket has found a characteristically amateur way to stumble into a mess. Did Sourav Ganguly and selectors tell Kohli clearly that if he quits T20 captaincy, he would lose his ODI role too? Did Kohli not understand the implications involved and thought he could carry on as ODI skipper? Unfortunately, it has to come to this: Who is lying, who is telling the truth? And the bigger picture is lost. It’s the prerogative of the selectors and the board to replace a captain if the desired results aren’t coming in. Kohli might want to go on as captain but it isn’t his call. In the end, it is about the handling of the exit, and the absence of grace.

But grace and BCCI have historically not gone well together. There was no “thank you” note in the press release to Kohli, not even a mention of his name in the note to elevate Rohit Sharma. Much earlier, Venkataraghavan had learned that he was replaced as captain by Sunil Gavaskar mid-air, through an announcement by the pilot. Gavaskar once had to scale a wall like a thief to enter a meeting where he was anointed as captain over Kapil Dev. In 1983, after a Pakistan tour, Gavaskar himself didn’t even get a phone call from the selectors that he was going to be replaced by Dev.

What makes this current situation more fascinating is the cast of characters. Sourav Ganguly, who previously not only lost captaincy but also his spot in a coup of sorts led by then coach Greg Chappell. Jay Shah, BCCI secretary and son of the Union home minister, who holds the real power. Rahul Dravid, not visible in the messy unfolding of events now, but who was the captain when the Ganguly-Chappell episode took place. And Kohli who might understandably feel hurt about the way he was dethroned, but who has now pitted himself in a corner with the board, having essentially called them liars. Adding intrigue is the troll army and some prominent verified handles, which have been in overdrive ever since Kohli supported Mohammed Shami and challenged the vicious campaign around his faith. The elevation of Rohit as white-ball captain is the right move but in reaching here, there has been unnecessary and avoidable fumbling.

This editorial first appeared in the print edition on December 17, 2021 under the title ‘Absence of grace’.

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