Updated: January 17, 2022 9:57:22 pm
Pace spearhead Jasprit Bumrah has said that if the opportunity comes, he is ready to take up the India captaincy. “If given an opportunity, it would be an honour. I don’t think any player would say no. There’s no bigger feeling than that,” Bumrah said at a press conference on Monday.
The fast bowler has been promoted to the vice-captaincy of the Indian team for the three-match ODI series in South Africa that starts on Wednesday. KL Rahul is the stand-in captain for the series, as the regular captain Rohit Sharma hasn’t yet recovered from a hamstring injury.
After Virat Kohli gave up his Test captaincy at the end of the South Africa series, speculations are rife over who his successor will be. While Rahul and Rohit are said to be the frontrunners, former India captain and one of the game’s influential voices, Sunil Gavaskar, had suggested the name of wicket-keeper Rishabh Pant. Now, Bumrah’s name, too, can be added to the list.
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Rarely has a fast bowler been picked to lead the side in Indian cricket. Kapil Dev was a glorious exception. As for Bumrah, he is one of only three players with an A+ central contract – the other two being Kohli and Rohit – and is indispensable in any format.
Globally also, the perception is changing. Pat Cummins became the first fast bowler in 65 years – since Ray Lindwall in 1956 – to lead Australia in Tests, presiding over a 4-0 hiding of England in the Ashes Down Under.
“Ready to do it if given an opportunity, but that’s something I don’t chase. In any leadership group, I always look at the situation in the same manner, not to take any extra pressure that now I have to be overcautious. Taking responsibility, talking to a lot of players, trying to help them out in the best possible manner has always been my approach and it will be my approach going further,” Bumrah said.
The selectors had promoted Rohit to the Test vice-captaincy ahead of the South Africa tour, in place of Ajinkya Rahane. But the opener, being injury-prone of late, was ruled out of the entire tour. When a back spasm prevented Kohli from playing the second Test in Johannesburg, Rahul led the team and Bumrah was the vice-captain.
A BCCI functionary told The Indian Express that for the moment, the selectors are set to appoint Rohit as captain across formats but beyond that, there remains a question mark. Rohit’s dodgy fitness record could be an impediment to making him long-term captain. Also, he will be turning 35 in April, and is a year-and-a-half older than Kohli.
Bumrah’s promotion as ODI vice-captain for the South Africa series is a clear indication that the selection committee sees leadership potential in him.
Bumrah, however, didn’t play up the transition factor following Kohli’s exit. “We understand the change and everybody is respectful (about) how the process is going. Change is the only constant. All of us have played enough cricket to understand that this is the way the game goes and this is how you have to move forward. Everyone in the team is quite positive and quite eager to contribute,” he said.
He spoke in glowing terms about Kohli’s leadership. “He (Kohli) is energy-driven. He has brought a lot of changes to Indian cricket. He brought in the fitness culture. Everybody is heading in the same direction. Everybody got fitter. His contribution has been immense and it’s still immense. He is an important leader in the group. All look up to him.
“It’s a personal decision. He knows how his body is reacting and what frame of mind he is in. We respect that. It’s been an immense pleasure to play under his captaincy. I made my debut under him.”
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