The World Cup is behind us. Now it is heard that there is a rift between the captain and his deputy emerging from the reverse in England. The team is away for the series against West Indies. There were rumours that Virat Kohli may not address the pre-departure media conference. He and his favourite coach Ravi Shastri were very much there to answer every question.
There was cricket to discuss, with the importance of T20s in view of the World Cup next year, and the Test Championship in which India and West Indies will be playing their first round. Once cricket questions were over, the inevitable “rift” cropped up and Kohli and Shastri were at pains to clear the air.Kohli, cleverly, did not miss the opportunity to express his personal liking for Ravi bhai when someone asked whether the Cricket Advisory Committee had consulted him on the appointment of the new coach. Ideally, he should have diplomatically avoided answering it.
He should have known that applications have been invited for the coach’s post. At least one candidate said what he would have done in the semifinal against New Zealand, altering the batting order when Rohit Sharma fell early. He also did not forget to have a dig at the incumbent, saying he lost two World Cup semifinals.
Be that as it may, the ‘responsible’ media and the tacky social media seem better informed about the differences between Kohli and Rohit. Without referring to the differences, two former cricketers, who double up as commentators and columnists, had their say. The senior stalwart lambasted the selectors for not formally going through the process of reappointing Kohli as captain. The younger one ‘respectfully’ disagreed and backed Kohli’s selection and the team.
Yes, captains have gone through scrutiny and got sacked for losing in semifinals. We have to move on. Discussions over the next month will be not only on the team’s performance. There will be a microscopic view of every on-field and off-field acts of Kohli and Rohit. Cricket will be reduced to silly deductions.
These minute observations get reported in the media. In this unpleasant case, even the families have been dragged in. Is it the concern of public whether a player’s wife is a social media friend of another?
What could be the trigger for this so called flare-up? If it is over the World Cup, then it should have been discussed dispassionately and if it has something to do with the split captaincy, then it is not Kohli or Rohit’s call. That is for the board and selectors. In any case, the two will have to play together in an atmosphere of bonhomie.
When Kohli was badgered on the rift, he termed the question “ridiculous” and “baffling.” Did anyone expect him to say, ‘yes we did indulge in fisticuffs’!It is not that superstars in the past had no problems. Some captains got rid of seniors, saying they were a negative influence on the team. Whatever the differences, they are cricketers first and some of them now share mike in the commentary box, pulling each other’s leg. That should be the spirit while playing, too.
(The writer is a veteran commentator. Views expressed are personal. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)