Sunil Gavaskar has called India’s selectors “lame ducks” after they failed to question Virat Kohli on the team’s performance at the 2019 World Cup.
India won seven of their ten matches at the tournament, but lost to New Zealand in the semi-final, failing to chase down 240 after being reduced to 24-4. Ravi Shastri, the head coach, will have go through a process to continue in the post – the Cricket Advisory Committee is looking at applicants for the position – but the captain hasn’t been through any such screening.
Historically, India’s captains are measured against performances in big tournaments; Kapil Dev was sacked after India’s failure in the 1987 World Cup, while Gavaskar himself faced uncertainty over captaincy in the early 1980s, when the mantle was shuffled between him and Dev.
Gavaskar, writing in his column for Mid-Day, found it surprising that the selection committee didn’t even meet “for five minutes” to talk about the captaincy. “That they selected the team for West Indies without first having a meeting to select the captain brings up the question of whether Virat Kohli is the captain of the team at his or the selection committee’s pleasure,” Gavaskar wrote.
“To the best of our knowledge, his [Kohli’s] appointment was till the World Cup. After that, it was incumbent on the selectors to meet, even if it was for five minutes, for his reappointment.”
Gavaskar blasted the MSK Prasad-led committee for their lack of assertiveness in dealing with Kohli. “Speaking of lame ducks, the Indian selection committee appears to be one,” he wrote. “After the reappointment, he [captain] gets invited to the meeting for his views on selecting the players for the team.
Respectfully disagree with Gavaskar Sir with his views on Indian selectors & Virat being retained as capt. No, Ind did not put in a ‘much below par WC performance’, they won 7 lost two. Last one very narrowly. And integrity a far more important quality as selector than stature.
— Sanjay Manjrekar (@sanjaymanjrekar) July 29, 2019
“By bypassing the procedure, the message that goes out is that, while players like Kedar Jadhav, Dinesh Karthik get dropped after below-expectations performance, the captain continues despite [a performance] much below-par expectations, where the team did not even reach the finals.”
Gavaskar’s views weren’t universally accepted. Sanjay Manjrekar, the former India batsman, and one of Gavaskar’s co-commentators, took to Twitter to express his disagreement.
“Respectfully disagree with Gavaskar Sir with his views on Indian selectors & Virat being retained as capt [sic],” Manjrekar tweeted. “No, Ind did not put in a ‘much below par WC performance’, they won 7 lost two. Last one very narrowly. And integrity a far more important quality as selector than stature.”
Kohli and his team are en route to Miami, which will host the first two T20Is, before heading to the Caribbean for the rest of the tour.