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IPL 2022: ‘Captaincy’ and ‘leadership’ two different things? Who takes charge?

At the end of the day, too many minds taking calls results in differences of opinion and therefore it should just be left up to the person who has been entrusted with the responsibility

The T20 fever all over the globe is for real and no wonder, if one takes a close look at statistics, it is the most-played format in cricket. Along with International matches, there’s franchise cricket being played in different parts of the world and henceforth, the exposure of players to the T20 format is currently a lot more than 50-overs cricket or Test matches. As far as franchise cricket is concerned, it was the IPL way back in 2008 that paved the foundation for the popularity of this brand of cricket. While country cricket was always popular, the IPL in a way revolutionized the way marketing and cricket met.

Unlike football where the majority of the decisions are handled by the manager, in cricket, the captain plays a very important role. And if we all talk specifically about franchise cricket where stakes are high and one is answerable to the owners, the mental toughness and most importantly the ability to make decisions plays a big role in captaincy. The reason why MS Dhoni, Rohit Sharma and Gautam Gambhir are hailed as three of the best skippers in IPL history is that day in and day out, they put personal milestones and achievements aside and put the team into a priority to help them win multiple titles. Although these three names are the most popular captains in IPL history as far as winning titles are concerned, fortunately,/unfortunately, only Rohit Sharma is still a practising skipper of Mumbai Indians. While Gautam Gambhir has retired long back, MS Dhoni decided to give up captaincy to Ravindra Jadeja by ‘passing on the baton’ this year.

IPL 2022 is the only season in the history of IPL where as many as 7 new captains are leading the respective teams out of the 10 in total. Among all these teams, only Royal Challengers Bangalore and Chennai Super Kings are two such teams who still have their ex-captains in the scheme of things playing for their side. While Faf Du Plessis has taken the charge of Royal Challengers Bangalore after Virat Kohli led it for nearly 8 years, Ravindra Jadeja is the only second captain of Chennai Super Kings since MS Dhoni has been leading the squad right from the beginning in 2008.

However, going by what the scenes have so far been in 2022, the general perception is that ‘captain’ and ‘leader’ are two different things. In the games RCB has played so far, there have been quite many moments where despite Faf being the captain, it was Virat Kohli and on certain occasions, Dinesh Karthik who were taking calls regarding field placements and bowling changes. The same story was to be seen with Chennai Super Kings as well where despite Jadeja being the leader, on many occasions, MS Dhoni was seen making alterations in the field and taking calls which ideally Jadeja should be taking as the skipper.

Ex-India cricketer Ajay Jadeja during a conversation with Cricbuzz had even slammed MS Dhoni for the same and was quoted by several media platforms saying,

“It is wrong, there is no doubt about that. See, there is no bigger fan of Dhoni than I am, and that’s because of his temperament. If this was the last match of the group where there was a do-or-die situation in terms of qualification, then I could’ve probably understood that you would want to take over the reins because it is an important phase. But if it happens only in the second match of the season.

“See, I’m not saying this because it’s Ravindra Jadeja. But even as a cricket fan, it looked a little odd. He (Jadeja) was standing right there and you continued to run the whole game. See, Dhoni is a very big player and I don’t like saying it out loud. But I didn’t like what I saw today.”

As far as RCB is concerned, no one understands the dynamics of the franchise better than Virat Kohli himself since he has been with them right from the very beginning. However, once a new skipper is appointed, shouldn’t he be having complete freedom to run the show the way he wants to? Yes, there’s no questioning Virat Kohli and his pool of experience but as far as leadership is concerned, it should just be left up to the person who has been entrusted with the responsibility, ain’t it? At the end of the day, too many minds taking calls results in differences of opinion and that’s something you wouldn’t want in the beginning stage of the tournament where every team is looking to rattle the opposition and dominate in the best way possible.

The scene wasn’t different with KKR back in 2020 as well. Dinesh Karthik was the captain of the squad. However, there was a lot of additional pressure built around him since Eoin Morgan who was a World-Cup winning captain wasn’t the skipper of the squad. On frequent occasions, DK would be seen taking suggestions from Eoin until the time when he decided to himself quit captaincy and hand over the responsibility to Eoin Morgan. Out of all the teams in the last five years now, only Mumbai Indians seem to have to follow a proper approach towards decentralisation of responsibility. Every individual has been entrusted with a responsibility and it’s Rohit Sharma who’s the boss of the squad. You win or you lose, it is just one man Rohit Sharma who’s primarily accountable for being the skipper and no wonder, they have proven to be the most successful IPL squad ever by winning the title 5 times under his leadership.

All we would like to say to sum things up, in a nutshell, is that we aren’t against the concept of teams following ‘leadership groups’ within a squad to assist the captain. However, what teams like Chennai Super Kings and Royal Challengers Bangalore need to do right now is get over the ‘reverence’ and look at MS Dhoni and Virat Kohli as just another player in the squad instead of someone who’s unquestionable. Yes, their contributions to the respective squads have been huge. But when the teams have taken that first step of moving forward, why take a backseat and fall back on the past when it comes to important decisions? Both Ravindra Jadeja and Faf Du Plessis are experienced enough to run their squads the way they want. A little bit more freedom maybe? Get rid of Dhoni and Kohli’s shadows gentlemen and you might just be enjoying the best cricketing phase of your career ever. So, the next time, fans ask the teams as to who’s the ‘real person in charge, hopefully, the visuals of the respective skippers come into their minds immediately instead of their thoughts getting diluted. Fingers crossed RCB and CSK fans. We feel you.