“It’s better if it doesn’t happen in our culture,” Irfan Pathan expresses disagreement to Rohit Sharma’s REST, says it could lead to split captaincy

Irfan Pathan said he understood why the 36-year-old had rested but believes that split captaincy is not needed in Indian cricket culture.


“It’s better if it doesn’t happen in our culture,” Irfan Pathan expresses disagreement to Rohit Sharma’s REST, says it could lead to split captaincy

Irfan Pathan believes Rohit Sharma's rest could lead to split captaincy (Images via ESPN)

When the BCCI announced that Rohit Sharma had taken rests for the white ball matches of India’s upcoming tour of South Africa, many fans understood. The Indian captain has had issues with fitness in the past and had played consecutive cricket from March, sitting out for only the T20s. But former Indian all-rounder, Irfan Pathan, was unhappy with him resting again. 

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While talking to Star Sports, Pathan said he understood why the 36-year-old had rested, saying he needed to manage his workload. But said if Sharma keeps on resting, it could lead to split captaincy, which has not been adopted by the Indian side. 

You are seeing him as the captain for Test cricket. However, you might see these things going forward. You might even see different coaches for different formats. I believe it's better if it doesn't happen in our culture
Irfan Pathan to Star Sports

Pathan emphasizes that split captaincy was never a part of Indian cricket culture and it should stay that way for the future. He says if players and squads are always different, there would be different coaches for different formats as well, which he isn’t a fan of. 

Has India ever adopted split captaincy? 

Ever since the formation of the shortened format of One Day Internationals, India has tried keeping one captain for each format. In the past few years, there have been some changes to this tradition. At the 1975 World Cup, Srinivasaraghavan Venkataraghavan was the captain, but not the Test captain. But after him, the roles of Test captain and ODI captain were held by the same player. 

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Virat Kohli MS Dhoni
Virat Kohli and MS Dhoni led the red and white ball teams respectively until Dhoni stepped down. (Image via ESPN)

Since the 80s, Sunil Gavaskar, Kapil Dev, Dilip Vengasakar, Mohammed Azharuddin, and so many more have held the role of captain for both formats. Things changed when MS Dhoni captained the Indian team in the 2007 T20I World Cup and won it. He replaced Rahul Dravid as ODI captain and Anil Kumble became the Test captain. 

Kumble held the role only a year as he retired, with Dhoni now being the all-format captain. He led India to glory in the 2011 World Cup and 2013 Champions Trophy, but did not have the same effect on the Test side. During India’s tour of Australia in 2014/15, Dhoni announced his retirement from Test cricket, surprising everyone. Virat Kohli was then appointed as Test captain, while Dhoni led the white-ball teams. This continued till 2016, where Dhoni announced that he was stepping down as captain. This led to the BCCI appointing Kohli as the all-format captain, which he held till 2021. 

After India’s poor performance in the 2021 T20I World Cup, Kohli stepped down as T20 captain, with Rohit Sharma taking over. The BCCI did not want two different white ball captains, so they made Sharma the new ODI captain. When Kohli resigned as Test captain, Sharma was appointed as his replacement. As of now, Sharma is supposed to be the captain of all formats, but has not captained the T20I team since November of 2022. Hardik Pandya led the team in his absence and when Pandya was injured, Suryakumar Yadav captained the Indian side. 

Throughout the world, split captaincy is applied. The 2019 World Cup winning team was led by Eoin Morgan, who was not even a part of their Test squad. 2021 T20 World Cup Champions, Australia, were led by Aaron Finch, who only played 2 months of Test cricket in 2018. Jos Buttler, the captain of the 2022 T20 World Cup winning squad, was also by then dropped from the Test team.

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