SA vs Ind – Chetan Sharma: Everyone in selection meeting asked Virat Kohli ‘to reconsider’ stepping down as T20I captain

Everyone present in the meeting had asked Virat Kohli to reconsider stepping down as India’s T20I captain on the eve of the T20 World Cup, chief selector Chetan Sharma said on Friday.
Breaking from the recent norm of announcing squads via press releases, Chetan featured in a press conference today to name the ODI squad for the three-match series in South Africa. He was asked if Kohli was indeed asked to not give up the T20I captaincy when he conveyed that decision to the board and the selectors just before the T20 World Cup.

“When the meeting started, it was a surprise for everybody,” Chetan said. “Because the World Cup is upon you and you hear this news, what will be the reaction of a normal person? Everyone who was present in the meeting asked him to reconsider, to rethink; ‘we can talk about this after the World Cup’. All the selectors felt this could affect the performance in the World Cup. It was told to Virat for the sake of Indian cricket to please continue as captain.

“It was told to him by everybody available in the meeting. All convenors were there, board officials were there. Everybody said that. Who will not say that when you hear such a news? You will be in shock. What will be your instant reaction? It was a matter of the World Cup. We thought let’s talk after the World Cup. We told Virat the World Cup is upon us, and everybody requested let’s talk after the World Cup.

“But he has his plans. We have to respect his decision. If someone has taken a decision, and he said in the media also, that he was thinking [along these lines] from the time of WTC, but at that time everybody told him to think about it.”

Kohli had earlier contradicted similar claims from BCCI president Sourav Ganguly, saying, “I wasn’t told you don’t leave the T20 captaincy. Instead it was received well; I was told it’s a very progressive step and in the right direction.” Ganguly had explained Kohli’s removal as ODI captain as a natural progression once Kohli gave up the T20I captaincy, which, he said, they didn’t want Kohli to give up at that time. However, Kohli’s denial created a controversy, pitting the outgoing captain’s word against that of the president’s.

“The main goal for everybody is the same: to keep India on top. We don’t want controversies,” Chetan said. “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.”

Kohli’s implication, perhaps, was that he had expressed his desire to continue as Test and ODI captain when he resigned as the captain of the shortest format, but the selectors only told him 90 minutes before the meeting to pick the squad for the South Africa Tests.

Chetan was asked why, then, did they not inform Kohli that if he gave up the T20I captaincy, ODI leadership would not be guaranteed either.

“If Virat told you about the T20 decision, would you be able to tell at that time that we want one or two captains,” Chetan said. “That wasn’t the right time to do it, we were in the middle of a World Cup. The World Cup was upon us. We were only thinking that the decision should not affect us in the World Cup. We have to cool things down. At that time, we don’t have the time to think about split captaincy, we had only requested that this can be discussed later. Everybody in the board said that.

“If you were in my place, you would have enjoyed watching how these guys are working together aa a team and family and a unit. It’s really saddening 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”

Chetan Sharma on reports of a rift between Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma

“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, 24×7, to discuss anything. There’s no problem at all.”

On the decision to let Kohli know before the Test meeting and not when the time came for the ODI selection, Chetan said he wanted to give both the captains time to process the decision. “We wanted to announce it then because we don’t want to disturb them in the middle of the [Test] series [in South Africa],” Chetan said. “We gave time to Virat and Rohit [Sharma] 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.”


Newsroom: Clear communication could have made change of guard smoother

Newsroom: Clear communication could have made change of guard smoother

Chetan explained the rationale behind the switch, which was what Ganguly had said too: “When it comes to planning, the selectors were not comfortable with two white-ball captains. So we thought we must have one white-ball captain and one red-ball captain, and he [Kohli] is the red-ball captain. It was a hard decision, but we have to take hard decisions as selectors. Same with the playing XI, you take hard decisions. We took this decision, I know Virat is an important player, and he is going to be a very important player for us in the coming days and coming years.”

While at it, Chetan also quashed reports of a rift between Kohli and Rohit. Asked if they planned to have Kohli and Rohit sit down to iron things out, Chetan said, “But about what? Things are absolutely fine. That’s why I was saying don’t go by speculations. We’re all cricketers first and selectors later. There is nothing between them.

“Sometimes I read reports about them and laugh. I’m telling you there is such good planning between them about the future. Things are fantastic. If you were in my place, you would have enjoyed watching how these guys are working together aa a team and family and a unit. It’s really saddening 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.”

Chetan said the selectors were going to resume holding press interactions when required. “We don’t want to hide anything,” he said. “Those who do something wrong usually hide things. We’re not hiding anything.”

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