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Why Rohit Sharma shouldn’t be India’s next Test captain

by Sarah Waris 4 minute read

With Virat Kohli giving up the Test captaincy, the leading contender to take over the role is Rohit Sharma. Sarah Waris, however, believes the job should go elsewhere.

It truly is the end of an era. Not only did Virat Kohli take India to the top of the Test rankings with some memorable wins, but his attitude and overall investment also seemed to revive Test cricket. India’s next leader, therefore, will have a huge challenge on his hands.

Though there are several candidates for the role, no cricketer has a definite edge. There will surely be a temptation to hand over the reins to white-ball skipper Rohit Sharma, ensuring consistency across formats, but the move may not be the best in the long term.

For one, Rohit’s fitness remains a concern, with the opening batter having missed several key fixtures over the last two years. Injury saw him miss India’s Tests against New Zealand in early 2020 and a hamstring problem picked up in the IPL that same year meant he was forced to miss a major portion of the Australia tour that followed, including the first two matches of the Test series.

The newly-appointed ODI skipper was unable to fly to South Africa for the recent series due to a nagging hamstring issue, and India should perhaps weigh up whether they want to increase the workload of a crucial player. Not only is Rohit a pivotal batter at the top of the order across formats, but he will also be the man in charge of changing India’s fortunes in ICC events over the coming years. Besides crashing out of the first round of the T20 World Cup last year, India have been poor in ODI cricket of late; rectifying those sides should be his top priority.

Time isn’t on Rohit’s side either. Kohli led India in Tests for seven years, and repeated tours to different countries allowed him to learn and make amends for the mistakes that his team had been committing. The Delhi cricketer took over the role with India at the No.7 spot in the Test rankings and went on to make it one of the most successful sides ever. Kohli was able to take on a long-term approach, but Rohit, who is nearing 35, doesn’t have that advantage. It could be that he takes on the job for a short period of time but leaves India back to the drawing board again in the not so distant future, with the next captain taking his time to adjust to the various demands of Test leadership.

Furthermore, it’s also worth mentioning that Rohit’s status as an astute leader primarily comes from white-ball success. While he has chalked up plenty of wins in the IPL with the Mumbai Indians, he has only led his Ranji team Mumbai in three matches, all back in 2012; there is no guarantee that his white-ball heroics will translate into red-ball success.

It’s not that R Ashwin, Jasprit Bumrah, KL Rahul and Rishabh Pant, the other candidates who could take on the Test role, all have much experience leading a side in red-ball matches either, but overall, considering Rohit’s fitness, age and responsibilities in white-ball cricket, giving the job to a younger player remains the wisest move. With India playing a majority of their matches at home this year, the new captain can learn the tricks of the trade in familiar conditions, setting out a long-term goal with experienced players around him, rather than being given the leadership a few years down the line when the side is in transition.

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