Chairman of selectors Chetan Sharma said on Friday that everyone present asked Virat Kohli to reconsider his decision to step down from T20I captaincy ahead of the recently concluded World Cup but added that it wasn’t the right time to discuss the white-ball leadership with him.
The former Indian cricketer also requested that the controversies surrounding India’s captaincy in men’s cricket be put to bed at the end of 2021, assuring that there were no communication gaps between the panel and the team management.
Days after Kohli quit the T20I captaincy, BCCI president Sourav Ganguly said that the board had asked the star batter to reconsider his decision. Kohli, however, said during his press conference prior to leaving for the Test series against South Africa that he wasn’t told to not give up T20I captaincy, while he himself had announced that he’d like to carry on leading in ODIs and Tests; and also that he was informed about his removal as ODI skipper just a little while before the selection meeting for the SA Test series.
While the unsaid interpretation is that Kohli felt he wasn’t told that his ODI captaincy depended on staying on as T20I captain, Sharma confirmed that it was not possible to bring up that topic when the star batter made his decision. It was only after the selectors met and decided that they wanted one white-ball captain that they conveyed it to Kohli.
Here’s all that the chairman of selectors said regarding the captaincy controversy on Friday in a rare press conference appearance:
On if Kohli was asked to stay on as T20I captain:
When the meeting started, it was a surprise for everybody. If the World T20 is round the corner and you hear something like this, what will be your reaction? Everyone present in that meeting had told him that he should rethink his decision (to quit T20 captaincy) and we can talk about it after the World Cup. All selectors felt at that time that this can affect us in the World Cup. It was told to Virat for sake of Indian cricket, please continue as the captain and it was told by everybody present in the meeting. The convenors were there, board officials were there. Sabhi ne bola hai (everyone told him). Who won’t tell? If this news comes to you, you are in shock. But since we had a World T20 to play, we never wanted it to affect the team.
He (Kohli) had his plans and we respect him. If he has taken the decision, and this is what he said in the media also, that from WTC he had been thinking about it... everyone told him to think about it and we thought let’s talk after the World Cup.
On having one captain for white-ball cricket:
It was Virat’s decision and nobody actually told him to quit the [T20I] captaincy. But once he quit T20 captaincy, obviously the selectors have to think what our decision is and obviously all selectors think it is one captain for white-ball formats, it becomes easy for selectors to plan things. We informed him regarding this. The 50 overs decision was the selectors’ and T20 captaincy was his decision.
On informing Virat Kohli about ODI captaincy :
As soon as selection committee came to the point and discussed it, I immediately called up Virat that afternoon. There was a Test selection coming up. We didn’t want to inform in that selection meeting and that’s why I called him when our meeting was over. And this is what selectors think and there will be one white-ball captain, there were a couple of questions and we had good conversations. He (Kohli) agreed on that. What we discuss I can’t disclose it here and we had a good chat. Most important thing is, Virat is a very important part of Indian cricket. We want him to play for India and keep getting runs, because the team revolves around it.
When it comes to planning, our thought process was we need one white-ball captain and one red-ball captain. He came at the (Test selection) meeting around 5:30 pm and we had informed him before that. It was hard decision for us and we have to take some hard decisions, that’s what we are here for. Same for selection of playing XI. Sometimes those are need of the hour. He is going to be very important for years to come.
On whether Kohli was told about one white-ball captaincy plan by the selectors when he quit T20I captaincy:
Would you be able to tell at that time (when Kohli announced the T20I captaincy decision), at that very moment, what your decision will be regarding one or two captains? See, that wasn’t the right time and we were in the middle of preparing for a World Cup. We had to cool down things so that it doesn’t affect the World Cup campaign. That wasn’t the appropriate time to tell him that if you leave T20I captaincy, you will have to give up ODI captaincy as well. We just requested that we will discuss later.
The main goal for everybody is the same: to keep India on top. We don’t want controversies. That is the reason we don’t come out. Our job is to select the team, make sure the best guy goes and plays for the country. When these controversies happen, it makes us sad as cricketers. I was joking that Ajaz [Patel] has been dropped by New Zealand after taking ten wickets. Imagine if we had done something similar, what would have happened to us.
On communicating the decision:
When you’re in the middle of the series, you can’t always say such things. You decide only when the selectors start thinking about that format. So, when the selectors discussed, and we feel we should have one white-ball captain, this is what we told Virat, and he agreed. We communicated what was on our minds, and we are always ready, 24x7, to discuss anything. There’s no problem at all.
We wanted to announce it then because we don’t want to disturb them in the middle of the [Test] series [in South Africa]. We gave time to Virat and Rohit to process it and get it into their systems.
Selectors have [always] communicated brilliantly with the board. There is no communication problem with the team management, with the captain, even with the domestic players. All five of us speak to all the domestic players because that is our job, that is our duty. We told Virat then to give everyone time. And we informed before the meeting. You can tell him only when the selectors have met and agreed. One of our selectors was in South Africa [with the ‘A’ team] so we had to get everyone together to meet.
We don’t want to hide anything. Only those people have something to hide, who are doing anything wrong. We are not doing anything wrong.
On whether Rohit-Virat need to sit across the table and iron things out:
But about what? Things are absolutely fine, boss. That’s why I was saying don’t go by speculation. We’re all cricketers first and selectors later. There is nothing between them, I can tell you. Sometimes I read reports about them and laugh. I’m telling you there is such good planning between them about the future. Things are absolutely fantastic. If you were in my place, you would have enjoyed watching how these guys are working together as a team. It’s really sad when people make up things like that. So please, leave controversies behind in 2021. Let’s talk about how to make them the best team. They are brilliant, sit together, eat together, talk to me together, the selection committee discusses things with them together... it’s like one family.
(With ESPNCricinfo and PTI inputs)
You can watch the video of the press conference here.