Since taking over as India’s all-format captain almost a year ago, Rohit Sharma has led India in only six ODIs – three against West Indies at home and three in England. In the same time period, Shikhar Dhawan captained India in seven ODIs (which will be nine by the end of the New Zealand series) and KL Rahul in six ODIs. Rohit has been the captain of India’s ODI side in only two series while he has missed five – in South Africa, in West Indies, in Zimbabwe, against South Africa at home, in New Zealand. Barring the South Africa tour in the early part of this year, where he was injured, Rohit was available for selection in all the other series but was rested. Yes, the focus was more on T20Is considering the World Cup was slated to take place in the latter part of the year but playing only two out of seven ODI series is bound to give rise to questions, especially when the ODI World Cup is due in about a year’s time at home.
Former India opener Aakash Chopra shared his thoughts on the frequent change of captains in Indian cricket in the last 12 months or so when a fan asked him about the same. Chopra said all the other teams around the globe don’t change their captains as much as India. He gave the examples of Sri Lanka’s Dasun Shanaka, England’s Jos Buttler and Australia’s Pat Cummins.
“If you look at Sri Lanka, they are playing against Afghanistan, and Dasun Shanaka is leading them. England played against Australia, and Jos Buttler is still their captain. Australia chopped and changed a little bit but Pat Cummins led them in two out of those three matches (against England). If all teams around the world are playing with their original captains then why do we change our captains so much? It’s a valid question,” Chopra said on his YouTube channel.
Not only Rohit, most of the other senior members like Virat Kohli, KL Rahul, and Mohammed Shami take frequent breaks as part of workload management. Take the recent New Zealand series for example. Most of the cricketers playing in the ongoing three-match ODI series, might not find a place in India’s XI when the big names are back. In fact, India’s entire Rahul Dravid-led support staff has been given a break from the New Zealand series. Chopra said, this hurts the continuity of the team and doesn’t allow players to settle.
“The captain is the one responsible for building a team. The same captain, the same coach helps a lot because the more time you spend with the team, the better you get to know each individual. If constantly, be it in West Indies, Zimbabwe, now in New Zealand, your captain is not available then there is a problem. Shikhar Dhawan led India in the last three ODI series. Suddenly when you go to Bangladesh, he won’t be the captain. The openers will change, and the captain will change. So when there are so many changes then your preparations are not good,” he added.
Chopra wanted to see India’s best possible XI from the next series onward against Bangladesh and added that if players like Rohit, and Kohli need a break, then they can take that during the IPL.
“Now, the time for experimenting is gone. Rohit Sharma, I believe he is our captain for the 2023 ODI World Cup, should take minimal breaks and keep playing. If you need a break, take it during the IPL. If Team India is serious about winning the World Cup then they should start fielding their best XI as much as possible.”