Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma have been the two biggest names in Indian cricket for the past 7-8 years. Kohli is widely regarded as the greatest batsman in modern-day cricket, while Rohit has also earned accolades with his nonchalant batting since he was promoted as an opening batsman. For a longer period of time, Kohli held the supreme power in Indian cricket after taking over captaincy charge from MS Dhoni and the COA era also allowed him to show authority on several decisions. Meanwhile, the batting maverick brought a fitness revolution in Indian cricket during his captaincy tenure. The Indian team became one of the fiercest sides in Test cricket under Kohli whose aggressive nature brought out the best in his players in red-ball cricket.
However, the power of paradigm shifted last year when Kohli stepped down as T20I captain to manage his workload, while the BCCI took a ruthless call to sack him from the ODI captaincy. The selectors suggested that they wanted one captain for the white-ball formats. While a couple of months later Kohli relinquished the Test captaincy too.
The power suddenly shifted from Kohli to Rohit in Indian cricket. There were several reports of ‘difference of opinion’ between the two during Kohli’s captaincy era, how the two have always backed each other openly during their tough times.
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When it comes to the captaincy record in the cash-rich IPL, Rohit led Mumbai Indians to five titles, while Kohli quit RCB’s captaincy after the 2021 season with an empty trophy cabinet.
In an exclusive conversation with News18 CricketNext, former New Zealand all-rounder Corey Anderson, who played under the leadership of both Kohli and Rohit in IPL, talked about the captaincy approach of the two Indian stalwarts.
The veteran all-rounder suggested that Kohli took the decision looking at the game on the field while Rohit involved himself in lot of team meetings and called him proactive.
“They’ve probably got slightly different ways of doing it. I think Virat is more on the field, he kind of sees things as they are and then goes by that. Rohit’s kind of involved in a lot of those meetings, and I think he reads the game very, very well. I think he’s sort of just very proactive around how he does things. He kind of backs himself and, because I said he’s proactive, he’ll make an opportunity and he’ll go with it. Whether it works or not, it’s a different question, he backs it and backs his bowlers to go and do it as well. We’ve seen with the Mumbai Indians team how well he’s led that team over many, many years," Anderson told News18 CricketNext during the sidelines of Legends League Cricket.
The southpaw pointed out that Rohit had the advantage of having some big star players in his line-up on which he relied to get the job done, while the fluctuation between personnel affected Kohli’s captaincy in RCB.
“He’s had some very, very good players in those positions to be able to rely on as well. And I think sometimes the captaincy can come down to that as well, the personnel you’ve got. And if you’ve got bankers like they did had Hardik and they have Bumrah obviously and things like that, it makes it a little bit easier to be able to kind of go back to those guys, stick to a plan and know that they’re probably gonna deliver more odds and not. Virat probably had a little bit of fluctuation between personnel with Bangalore and things like that. It makes it probably a little bit harder to have. It’s a consistent plan to go to as well, but I think they’re very good captains in their own," he added.
“But obviously I played a little bit more under Rohit, so I got to probably see him a little bit more and see how he worked as well. So yeah, I think they’re both very good captains."
Anderson took retirement from international cricket in 2022 at the age of 29, many were shocked with the decision looking at his age at that time. However, now things have changed as the tight schedule due to international cricket and franchise leagues is forcing the players to pick and chose the formats they want to continue playing.
Recently, Ben Stokes announced his retirement from ODI cricket to focus more on T20Is and Test cricket. While New Zealand’s Trent Boult and Jimmy Neesham also rejected the central contract from their board as they wanted to make themselves available for T20 leagues around the world. However, the duo also announced that they are available for selection in the New Zealand team.
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Anderson also gave his opinion on more one-format players in future as he said it’s a natural progression and said that a tight schedule is a key reason behind it.
“Massively (on more one format players in future). I think the schedule that just came out probably showed a lot of people. There’s a lot of cricket to be played over the next couple years. So I think you’ll see more and more players probably opt to certain formats. That’s not to say everyone’s gonna try and line up for T20. I think you’ll still get guys predominantly trying to play Tests and ODIs, but I think with the inclusion of a lot of these leagues as well, cricket is obviously something we love doing. But the reality is that it is a job and guys have families to, you know, support and things like that," Anderson said.
The 31-year-old emphasized that franchise leagues are going to swallow up a lot of cricketing calendar and players will start making their choice of choosing one or two formats in which they want to continue. He further said that many might prefer T20 cricket as it can preserve the player for a longer period.
“So a lot of these franchise competitions obviously help massively with those things. So the more franchise competitions that come up, they kind of, I guess, swallow up a lot of the calendar. It makes it very difficult to try and find that time. But yeah, I think you’ll see more and more players opt for one or the other. I just think it’s a natural progression with how much cricket’s being played and also the depth in cricket now as well. I think T20 can preserve a lot of people for a lot longer, where I think, you know, 10 years ago Test cricket, if that was the one thing you were doing, it can be very hard. There’s only a couple, like Jimmy Anderson’s, Stuart Broad and stuff we were still floating about and that’s very hard to probably keep bowling when you’re 40 as you can probably see with Legends League, there’s a few guys who can now bowl a couple of overs and then they’re done. So, yeah, I think you’ll see it more and more one-format players," he added.
Anderson was recently in India for participating in Legends League cricketer where he reunited with his former Mumbai Indians teammate Harbhajan Singh. The former NZ allrounder talked about his bond with the veteran Indian spinner in the Manipal Tigers camp.
“I get along with Harbhajan really well. You know, especially just spending time at Mumbai with him for a few years. I’ve always, I always got along with him. Then I’ve done a couple of media things with him as well. He’s just a funny and great human being, so, um, again, having someone like leading our team as well, just makes it that much easier to. Relax and enjoy yourself. And he’s a joker at heart and loves making people laugh. So, I think having him around the group, it’s really special," Anderson said.
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