Indian cricket team has embarked on the tour to South Africa. A place where they have never won a Test series to date. India collectively has won just 3 Test matches in the African land. Here is all about The war between Virat Kohli vs BCCI.
It is quite evident that South Africa is not an easy place to tour. To add to all these difficulties Indian cricket is staring at an unwanted issue. The battle between arguably the world’s most popular cricketer and the world’s most powerful cricketing board.
The Battle Timeline:
The ongoing tussle between Virat Kohli and the board has its seeds drawn long back. It was in 2016 when the first signs of friction started to appear. Ravi Shastri was India’s Team director up until then. He was also serving the head coach’s role.
But in a strange turn of events, BCCI appointed CAC (Cricket Advisory Committee) wanted Shastri out. They ran an interview process for selecting a head coach. Shastri initially miffed chose to apply for the role anyway.
But the CAC comprising Sourav Ganguly, Sachin Tendulkar, and VVS Laxman appointed Anil Kumble as the team’s coach. Kohli who had backed Shastri to the hilt did not have his way with the CAC having the final word.
The Kumble saga:
Kohli-Kumble combination started delivering results immediately. India had an epic Test run in the 2016-17 season having won all but 1 Test that ended in a loss. The team won the Test series in West Indies, won consecutive Test series at home beating New Zealand, England, Bangladesh, and Australia. But slowly the cracks started appearing between the coach and the captain.
There were reports that the duo has stopped seeing each other eye to eye. It came as a full-blown-out issue with Kumble stepping down from his role citing irreparable differences with the captain. The board had no option but to side with the captain and hire Shastri back. It was for the first time that Kohli had ruffled feathers in the higher echelons of Indian cricket.
The Kohli-Rohit drama:
Post India’s heartbreaking exit in the 2019 ODI World Cup, reports of a tiff surrounding Rohit Sharma and Kohli started surfacing. Kohli vehemently denied any rift but there was visible uneasiness between the two. It finally hit meltdown point when Sharma was declared unfit for the Australian tour in 2020-21. Kohli openly stated he had received no news about Sharma’s fitness.
The board’s lack of communication again came to the fore. Better sense prevailed and all 3 parties joined a video call to sort out the mess. Sharma then played an ideal foil to Kohli right up till the T20 World Cup 2021.
No ICC trophy and the resultant mess:
India under Kohli lost a third successive ICC knockout game in the WTC final 2021. Shastri, the then head coach admitted that this loss stung him the most. The pressure was mounting on Kohli to take a call regarding his captaincy. The board made its intentions clear ahead of the T20 World Cup 2021. They appointed MS Dhoni as the team’s mentor. It was seen as a move to curtail Kohli’s freedom.
Kohli soon fired ammunition back. He announced his resignation as T20 captain post the T20 World Cup 2021. Kohli expressed his desire to lead the ODI and Test side though. He dared the BCCI to sack him as captain for the other 2 formats. BCCI lost its patience when Kohli-led India failed once again in an ICC tournament. The writing was now clearly on the wall.
The ill-fated announcement:
Rohit Sharma was rightfully appointed India’s T20 captain ahead of the T20I series against New Zealand. Rahul Dravid the newly appointed head coach was expected to seamlessly work with the two captains until all hell broke loose. BCCI announced India’s Test squad for South Africa. The announcement accompanied a note stating the board has decided to appoint Rohit Sharma as India’s new ODI captain.
BCCI’s point of view:
The move to sack Kohli without any acknowledgment was met with serious displeasure. BCCI resorted to damage control mode. The board’s social media handle listed Kohli’s ODI achievements in a post after 24 hours.
Ganguly, the BCCI president stated calmly that the board had asked Kohli not to step down as the T20I captain. As this will make room for too many leadership roles. Hence the board was forced to appoint Sharma as the white ball captain. The explanation lacked logic but Ganguly was convinced with his conviction. He didn’t know what was to come!
Kohli addressing the pre-series presser dropped many a bomb that shook the BCCI power centers. He stated that the board was not reluctant to accept his resignation. Kohli went on to add that he was told about his removal from ODI captaincy just 90 minutes prior to the squad selection for the South Africa series.
He made no qualms in admitting that it was the right move to appoint Sharma as the ODI captain. But he vehemently denied the statements made by the Board and its President regarding the protocol followed. His comments evoked strong reactions across all quarters.
Whose fault was it anyway?
The cricketing fans and experts are divided in their opinions. Few believe that it is not the right thing for a player to question or malign the board. There are others who have lauded Kohli’s no-holds-barred approach even when it comes to handling the biggest board in the world.
But sadly it’s Indian cricket that has suffered. The quasi working ways of people in power are now there for everyone to see. Despite India being the world leader in the game, this entire episode has pulled the system back by a decade and a half.
And we don’t even know who the winner of this battle is yet! The battle that is-Kohli vs BCCI!