The BCCI wasted no time in swinging the axe after India’s failure to reach the T20 World Cup final in Australia.
The entire selection panel has been sacked summarily and applications invited from those interested in filling their posts. There have also been broad hints dropped that the future direction of travel envisages different captains for each format of the game.
India travelled to Australia as the top ranked T20I team in the world and one of the favourites to win the trophy for the second time in their history.
They needed a heroic innings from Virat Kohli to defeat Pakistan in their first match and suffered a loss to South Africa, but they still topped their Super 12 group and were well-backed to beat England in their semi-final.
Instead they were thrashed by 10 wickets with the English chasing down their total with four overs to spare.
In the wake of that loss, Indian cricket has been criticised for being too cautious, risk averse, and out of step with how T20 cricket should now be played.
BCCI swings the axe
For the BCCI, the world’s most powerful cricketing board, this was not acceptable and somebody had to bear responsibility for it. Anybody can lose a match, but in this case, it was the manner of defeat that was humiliating.
As senior selector, Chetan Sharma was firmly in their crosshairs anyway following India’s defeat to New Zealand in the WTC final last year and their failure to reach the knock-out stages even of last year’s World Cup.
Given that India also lost to Pakistan by 10 wickets in Dubai last year, which was two big sporting humiliations on Sharma’s watch.
This was a step too far for him. However, the other three selectors – Harvinder Singh, Sunil Joshi, and Debasish Mohanty – have not been absolved of their share of responsibility for what happened in Australia, and they too have paid with their jobs.
Normally, a senior national selector stays in post for four years. But in the case of Harvinder and Joshi, they have served just over half of that.
A change of direction
In what is an implied charge of direction, the new selection committee will be given the mandate of choosing captains across all three formats.
This is now becoming the norm in international cricket and not the exception because of the increased demands of the modern game.
With cricket now becoming a 365-days-a-year sport, players are increasingly choosing to specialise and the days when they could play, let alone captain in all three formats may soon be a thing of the past.
England, for example, have Ben Stokes as their red ball captain, whilst Jos Buttler is on the team. And whilst Pat Cummins has recently added the ODI captaincy to his role as Australia test skipper, Aaron Finch continues to lead their ODI side.
India have been experimenting with this but not in any systematic way.. In fact, in the interests of workload management, they have had eight different captains in the last year alone. But in theory, when fit and available, the job belongs to Rohit Sharma alone.
Moving to multi-captains may also be a tacit admission about the unique pressures that go with the job in a country where the sport is followed by hundreds of millions of people, and this is where every mistake is endlessly scrutinised.
It may no longer be feasible to expect one man to carry this burden alone.
India not alone in conducting a post mortem
India are not the only country to be conducting a post-mortem into their World Cup failure.
The West Indies’ performance in Australia was even more disappointing, and they did not even get out of the first group stage after losing to both Scotland and Ireland.
It has been announced that a review panel, whose members will include former West Indies captain Brian Lara and South African Mickey Arthur who has coached both Pakistan and Sri Lanka, will be convened to conduct a comprehensive review of their preparations and performance at the World Cup.
They are expected to identify key failings and make recommendations for future improvements.
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