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Wednesday, Sep 18, 2019

Virat Kohli is more powerful than the BCCI - Opinion

As captain,Virat Kohli quickly assembled the tools needed to win: Coach of choice, pace bowling attack, complete commitment from players.

cricket Updated: Jan 23, 2019 09:26 IST
Amrit Mathur
Amrit Mathur
Virat Kohli lifts the Border-Gavaskar Trophy as they celebrate a 2-1 series victory over Australia.
Virat Kohli lifts the Border-Gavaskar Trophy as they celebrate a 2-1 series victory over Australia.(REUTERS)
         

The ICC regularly discusses cricket’s future. Australia commissioned an independent review to reboot its cricket structure. In Pakistan, chairman Ehsan Mani identified core issues that need to be addressed. Last week, England released a five-year, 35-page vision document listing 26 priorities.

India too outlined its cricket plans, the announcement about cricket’s future trajectory emanating from a surprising source: It was captain Virat Kohli --- not the BCCI --- setting the agenda through a public statement.

His roadmap was impressive:

#Test cricket is paramount and must be respected by India’s players. Once this happens, India’s economic muscle and fan base will ensure its survival.

#Team India’s goal is to win consistently overseas. It will play hard and compete without complaining about conditions.

#Players must be the best they can be and buy into a culture that puts team ahead of the individual. Zero tolerance for poor fitness.

STATE OF FLUX

That Indian cricket policy is decided in the dressing room (not in BCCI meetings) and announced post-series (not an official release) in a press conference is unusual. Is this negligence, dereliction of duty or clever delegation with a preoccupied BCCI leaving important matters to a domain expert? Or an indication of the changing power equations in Indian cricket?

READ: India vs New Zealand, 1st ODI Live Cricket Score in Napier

Most likely the latter because the breakdown of BCCI has thrown up one unexpected and positive result. With the BCCI old guard on an uncertain wicket and the CoA losing control, Virat Kohli is now de facto boss of Indian cricket. More powerful than the BCCI itself, he calls the shots. Singlehandedly driving the team in the past, Kohli now has the chance to shape Indian cricket.

This subtle shift of power from officials to players has happened by chance. The BCCI, ridden with internal issues, dismissed itself --- both hit wicket and retired hurt. It abdicated authority and invited public ridicule with people suggesting plumbers are hired to fix media leaks and masons to keep its structure from crumbling. In this governance deficit, circumstance dictated that Virat become the magnet who attracts power.

GO-GETTER

Leadership sits nicely on Virat. Decisive by nature, not shy to ‘express’ himself, he evolved rapidly from captain to leader, skipper to statesman. There is enough evidence to support the view he knows what he wants and how to get it. Like Imran Khan in Pakistan, Virat is not a democrat but you can’t fault intent or intention.

As captain, he quickly assembled the tools needed to win: Coach of choice, pace bowling attack, complete commitment from players. He had a free hand because Indian cricket’s ‘superstar culture’ ensured nobody crossed his path. Moreover, who could possibly question the best batsman in the world, someone threatening every battling record barring Bradman’s unattainable 99.6 average.

READ: Sachin Tendulkar bats for inclusion of cricket in Olympics

Today, stature enhanced after the win in Australia, Virat has the opportunity to become a game-changing captain. He has the credentials and the clout to impose his will on Indian cricket. Virat’s legacy won’t just be his astonishing all-format record but the value he brings to world cricket by his passion and the inspiration he provides to young cricketers.

Fame, form and fate have thrust Virat into a position where he could leave a spike mark on cricket as a global sport. His vision for cricket confirms he is on the ball. There couldn’t be a better message coming out from this new player-leader of Indian cricket.

(The author, who tweets @AmritMathur1, is a senior sports administrator and views are personal)

First Published: Jan 23, 2019 09:26 IST