TAKING FRESH GUARD
THE WEEK|January 30, 2022
Virat Kohli’s decision to step down as Test captain was an emotional one, but not one taken in haste. A change of guard in the BCCI and lack of communication led to India’s most successful Test captain walking away. The silver lining could be the return of the champion batter
NEERU BHATIA

Sourav Ganguly, the BCCI president, did not see it coming. Neither did selection committee chairman Chetan Sharma. The team and coach Rahul Dravid had no inkling either. Just like that, India’s most successful Test captain took off his crown and walked away from his throne.

On the evening of January 14, after South Africa clinched the Test series 2-1 in Cape Town, Kohli told the boys that it was time for him to go.

He then told selector Abey Kuruvilla, who was on tour with the team. The former India pacer was stunned. The selectors wanted Kohli to continue, but he had made up his mind. Sharma was informed immediately. Kohli, meanwhile, called up Ganguly and BCCI secretary Jay Shah.

The loss to the Proteas had hurt a lot. After wins in Australia and England, this was the ‘final frontier’, and India were tipped to win. It would have been another notch on his bat.

In his seven years as skipper, Kohli’s men had dominated at home and were competitive everywhere else. Kohli won 40 of 68 games as captain, had taken India to the top of the International Cricket Council rankings and had marched into the inaugural World Test Championship final.

Sure, a win in South Africa would have been great, but that is not the reason for the resignation. The seeds of discontent had been sown earlier. It had reached a point where Kohli was not enjoying being captain, or even his batting.

Reportedly, in the conversation he had with Ganguly after the third Test in Cape Town, Kohli said he was not waking up fresh and happy. So, he wanted out. He told the selectors the same.

“I have always believed in giving my 120 per cent in everything I do, and if I can’t do that, I know it’s not the right thing to do. I have absolute clarity in my heart and I cannot be dishonest to my team,” he had tweeted.

He had thanked the BCCI (he took no names), his teammates, former coach Ravi Shastri, the support staff and, lastly, former skipper M.S. Dhoni.

The call took many by surprise. Former India captain Kapil Dev told THE WEEK: “These days you do not get surprised by much. When he quit the T20I captaincy, one thought perhaps there was too much on his mind. From what we have read and heard, nobody wanted him to give up captaincy (then or now). He is a fantastic player; we should respect his decision.”

Former India coach Madan Lal called it a personal decision. “I feel he should have taken this decision a year later,” he told THE WEEK. “He has been the most successful captain for India. He was aggressive and brought in a fitness culture in the team. He has shown the world that India are a top test team. I do not understand why people are criticising him for not winning ICC trophies. As a selector or board official, I will not interfere with a captain who is getting results. He was definitely sore about the way the ODI captaincy was taken from him.”

Kiran More, former chairman of selectors, was more pragmatic. “I think every cricketer goes through this,” he told THE WEEK. “He has been a captain for seven years. There comes a stage when you think it is time to let go. There is always pressure when you are a skipper. It was his individual decision, not the selectors’. Rahul Dravid did the same when he was skipper.”

The BCCI responded to the decision with carefully scripted acceptance. Ganguly emphasised that this was Kohli’s personal decision. “He will continue to be a very important member of this team and take this team to newer heights with his contributions with the bat under a new captain. Every good thing comes to an end and this has been a very good one,” he said.

The winds of change had been blowing for the past two years, and they had fanned the flames. Before Ganguly and Shah stepped in, Kohli was all powerful. He had had a smooth, unquestioned ride for five years; then came the bumps. Kohli was able to fend off any “intrusions” till the time Shastri was by his side. But things unravelled much too quickly after he left.

Continue reading your story on the app

Continue reading your story in the magazine

MORE STORIES FROM THE WEEKView All

Lessons Life Has Taught Me

Of life’s truths and turning points that make us who we are

10+ mins read
THE WEEK
May 29, 2022

Who killed Shruti Hill?

The Madhya Pradesh High Court recently acquitted a tribal ex-medical student in a murder case after he spent nearly 14 years in jail. However, who killed the woman is still a mystery

10+ mins read
THE WEEK
May 29, 2022

You end up making enemies. That's an anthologist's curse

INTERVIEW/Jeet Thayil, author, poet and poetry editor

6 mins read
THE WEEK
May 29, 2022

UNDOUBTING THOMASES

Self-belief and teamwork powered the Indians to their maiden Thomas Cup win

10+ mins read
THE WEEK
May 29, 2022

THE PHILOSOPHER'S SONG

In his new album, singer-songwriter Prateek Kuhad ventures on an exploration of the dark corners of his mind

4 mins read
THE WEEK
May 29, 2022

LOVE BYTES

MODERN LOVE: MUMBAI Available on Amazon Prime Video

3 mins read
THE WEEK
May 29, 2022

Flying high

HAL’s light utility helicopter could be the perfect replacement for the ageing Cheetah and Chetak fleets. Experts say it will revolutionise India’s defence aviation capabilities

6 mins read
THE WEEK
May 29, 2022

CARRIERS OF CULTURE

India is the “Country of Honour” at the 2022 Cannes Film Market. Six Indian films will be screened as part of it

4 mins read
THE WEEK
May 29, 2022

Log on to Yatra.gov

The pandemic scare has died down, and political parties are now planning for yatras in a big way.

2 mins read
THE WEEK
May 29, 2022

Hardik walks, BJP gains

The Patidar leader could join the BJP or the AAP after quitting the Congress; both scenarios would benefit the BJP

2 mins read
THE WEEK
May 29, 2022
RELATED STORIES

FOOD FOR Thought

All about food

2 mins read
Reader's Digest US
June 2022

THE TREE OF Life and Fertility

DR. V. RAMAKANTHA shares some insights into the science, history and mythology of the Banyan tree, also known as the Bengal Fig or Indian Fig. The Banyan is one of those mythical trees that has had an important place in the life and history of the people of India since ancient times. It is also home to many species of birds, animals, and epiphytic plants.

7 mins read
Heartfulness eMagazine
May 2022

East Meets West

KALYANI ADUSUMILLI grew up in a minority group in the United States, straddling cultures, learning how to fit in, and later learning how to accept the traditions of her heritage. Today, she is watching her children going through the same process, shifting their cultural identity, as they head toward adulthood in the melting pot of a multicultural society.

4 mins read
Heartfulness eMagazine
May 2022

NILANGANA BANERJEE: 2 series The 'Selves' | The Lullaby

The series Selves aims to artistically represent the psychological conflicts we face when we weigh ourselves based on socially determined of what is ideal and where we stand with the distorted and one-size that fits all defined.

6 mins read
Lens Magazine
April 2022

Why We Are Not Responsible Toward the Environment

DR. ICHAK ADIZES is an expert in change management for organizations. Here he shares some of the reasons why companies are not changing their actions in relation to the environment, even though everyone knows we are facing an environmental crisis. He also offers simple solutions that will bring change.

4 mins read
Heartfulness eMagazine
April 2022

Annadata Suraksha Abhiyaan

A tailor-made insurance initiative to financially secure farmers and growers against farming risks.

2 mins read
Heartfulness eMagazine
April 2022

The FORCE Behind the FORCE

How George Lucas created Hollywood's most beloved franchise

5 mins read
Maxim
May - June 2022

EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO GET STARTED IN MAGNET FISHING

In addition to treasure hunting, magnet fishing has an environmental aspect-it helps to clean up our waterways.

8 mins read
Popular Mechanics
May - June 2022

Sorry, iPhone 6 Plus users, your phone probably can't be repaired anymore

Apple moves two older devices to 'vintage' status.

1 min read
Macworld
April 2022

Self-Nurturing Through Nature

Secrets from a self-care sanctuary to help you find balance.

3 mins read
Yoga Journal
Spring 2022