Batting legend Sunil Gavaskar and India’s 2011 World Cup hero Yuvraj Singh battle for star wicketkeeper batsman Rishabh Pant, who hit a hundred in the last Test, to take over as the new Test captain.
However, former India skipper Dilip Vengsarkar recommends that for now anyone under Rohit Sharma or Ravichandran Ashwin should be the new skipper of India’s Test team as Pant and opener KL Rahul are not ready for the job yet.
“I would appoint Rohit or Ashwin as emergency captain and take care of the future captain. Right now you need someone with captaincy experience and an assured place on the Test side. Rohit and Ashwin have established themselves in Test cricket,” Vengsarkar told TOI.
“Pant, Rahul or Shreyas (Iyer) need another year before they are ready for the job. Pant has proved his mettle but needs to work on his shot selection. Until then, one of them could be asked to captain India in white ball format, and being the Vice Captain in Tests. That way they will be able to observe and learn to lead the Indian team,” he added.
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In 2007, Vengsarkar, who was then the chairman of the selection committee, and his panel had appointed then-experienced leg spinner Anil Kumble as the test captain for the series against Pakistan when everyone thought MS Dhoni would be appointed for the job.
“We wanted to give Dhoni a little more time before he became the Test captain. He was already the cue captain and we wanted him to learn a few things by following Kumble closely. Kumble led India very well during that period,” he recalls.
The 116 Test veteran has blamed previous selection committees over the years for the leadership crisis in Indian cricket following the departure of Virat Kohli as captain.
“It has been caused over the years by the selectors’ lack of vision to prepare a captain for the future. As we have looked after Dhoni, they just haven’t found the right man to replace Kohli as captain. I just couldn’t understand why Shikhar Dhawan was named as the captain of India’s tour of Sri Lanka last year,” Vengsarkar said.
“Rohit is my choice. He still has a lot of cricket in him. Being the best batsman on the team today, he is a certainty on the side. He has the tactical skills for captaincy. He is a good man manager. He is an experienced, cool, responsible man. All this talk of giving someone a captain’s armband for a decade is nonsense,” said former Mumbai captain and chief selector Milind Rege.
Rege was also critical of KL Rahul’s captaincy during the second Test against South Africa at Wanderers, which India lost.
“Producing an individual is not easy. Rahul, I thought, was found wanting as a captain. His inexperience as captain of a team – leading an IPL team is completely different from captaining a team in a test match – cost us a lot. You could have waited before you asked him to lead the team in a test. A vice-captain does not automatically become the captain,” explains Rege.
However, Pant has his supporters.
“Now is the perfect time to make him test captain. He is 24, in good shape and could be a long-term option. Captaining could also bring out the best in him,” said ex-selector Sarandeep Singh.