To have, or not to have a foreign captain, that is the question. If Shane Warne and Adam Gilchrist have led their sides to IPL triumphs, it’s also a fact that that three other foreigners have had a horrible time at the helm of affairs.
While Brendon McCullum failed miserably for Kolkata Knight Riders in the last season, Kevin Pietersen, too, found the going tough in the hot seat. And this year it’s Kings XI Punjab skipper Kumar Sangakkara who seems to have completely lost it.
Pietersen points out a pattern that could help solve the riddle. “The successful foreign captains-Shane Warne and Adam Gilchrist — are retired internationals. The current foreign internationals leading the sides have struggled. It’s tough for them to lead,” he said. The Royal Challengers player draws upon his experience to elaborate. “I found captaincy very tough last year. I didn’t even know the names of quite a few local players and couldn’t understand them much. It affected my batting as well and I think Sangakkara is facing the same problem,” said Pietersen.
In simple words, the point he is trying to make is that foreign internationals have too much on their plates and little time to spare to lead an IPL side. They, unlike retired ones, have the pulls and pressures of being an international cricketer playing on their minds, add to this the national captaincy in Sangakkara’s case and the job is sure to become even more demanding.
Then, more importantly, the current internationals come in barely a few days ahead of the tournament. That leaves them with little time to assess the strengths and weaknesses of the players, especially domestic ones. For instance, Sangakkara can’t be expected to know much about Bipul Sharma, the new recruit of Kings XI. The left-arm spinner, who’s more than a capable batsman and a brilliant fielder, is said to be perfectly cut out for this format. Yet he’s got just two games so far and, as Sangakkara admitted, he bowled brilliantly last night against Bangalore.
On the contrary, Shane Warne, who’s free from international commitments, knows all his players like the back of his hand. His association with his team doesn’t last just 45 days; it’s a round-the-year job. He identifies the players he needs in the side, assesses their weakness and strength, establishes a rapport with them, and, makes them perform like champions.
In trying to emulate his success, the other franchises are burdening their best foreign recruit with captaincy, only to lose them even in their primary roles — that of a batsman or a bowler. For proof, look no further than Sangakkara.