Cricket can be a great leveller and can expose the best players and captains especially in these times when the spotlight is constantly on their performances. Currently, a few countries are finding it hard to cope under relentless pressure, lack of quality players and some external factors ruining their game. The skippers leading these countries are relentlessly under fire for their inability to string together competent performances.
On the other hand, we have India’s skipper Virat Kohli who is redefining the role of a captain with some superlative performances as skipper and batsman. After taking over as the skipper, he has flourished to a far more superior batsman than he was earlier.
Kohli seems to thrive and enjoy the responsibility of being the leader of the Indian team across all formats. India’s success down-under has reinstalled a new kind of self-belief in the Indian team, and the whole and sole credit should go to skipper Kohli.
MS Dhoni, the final piece from the ‘Golden Era’, had announced his retirement in Tests in late 2014 and it was a shock to many including his successor. However, Kohli who was Dhoni’s deputy for more than two years had picked up the right things which plagued Indian cricket, especially overseas.
Kohli, who is known to have an astute mind understood that the game was about small margins and percentages and India had to be fitter and stronger to compete against stronger sides in their backyard. Under Kohli’s reign, India have scaled new heights. But not all countries have that luck currently.
Here’s looking at such cases of current captains in world cricket who should resign owing to a string of poor performances in recent times:
1. Faf Du Plessis in Tests for South Africa
South Africa’s Test cricket is in peril off late. That’s a known fact which has got further emphasised looking at their current performance in Port Elizabeth in the ongoing third game of the four-match Test series against England.
Furthermore, their skipper Du Plessis has had a long and at times unfairly difficult journey, and now it’s reaching its end. He knows it. We know it. The question is when he should go and who should retain power of attorney over his exit? Du Plessis has said he wants to bow out at the T20 World Cup in Australia in October and November.
England will stay on after the Wanderers Test for three games in each of the white-ball formats. Then Australia arrive for another three ODIs and T20s. Three more ODIs follow in India, and two Tests and five T20s in West Indies. Du Plessis is currently South Africa’s captain in all formats. For the good of the team and the player, that has to change.
For Du Plessis the player, not so much. Too many people want him to fail, and too many of the same people want Bavuma to replace him as a player and a captain. For the betterment of South Africa’s Test cricket, they should look at asking Faf to step down as skipper and focus only on batting, something that should have happened sometime back. If that happens, he can regain some of his old touch.
As it stands, South Africa need the Du Plessis who used to command respect and bring fear into the opposition team’s bowlers. Now there is far too much self-doubt which is making the Proteas look very weak and meek. Quinton De Kock or Temba Bavuma- who should replace him? Well, that’s for the selectors to decide but recent performances is pointing towards Faf du Plessis being fired from his post as the skipper of the Test team.
2. Azhar Ali in Tests for Pakistan
After failing miserably to inspire his troops after Test cricket finally returned to home soil after a hiatus of a decade, Azhar Ali’s position as Test skipper has come under fire. The batting also has seen a significant dip for the once prolific Ali who hasn’t scored a fifty in a while. The series against Sri Lanka have had fans and experts wanting him to resign from the post of captain.
Azhar took over the Pakistan Test side, replacing former captain and wicketkeeper-batsman Sarfaraz Ahmed, soon after Misbahul Haq was appointed as the team’s head coach-cum-chief selector. The right-hander’s personal performance, with the bat, has also not been satisfactory over the past two years, with an average of only 25. He also failed to impress during the recently concluded Australia Tests, accumulating just 62 runs in four innings.
After the team’s performance in Australia, the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB)’s top hierarchy is concerned about the future of the side in the longest format of the game and Azhar could be in danger of losing Test captaincy if Pakistan fail to live up to expectations.
The veteran Pakistan batsman could also lose his place in the side if he does not come up with adequate contributions in the batting department. In case Azhar is stripped of Test captaincy, prolific batsman Babar Azam, who is also the captain of the T20 side, is likely to take charge of the side as well.
3. Lasith Malinga in T20Is for Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka’s sorry show in the three-match T20I series against India has left captain Lasith Malinga disappointed so much so that he’s mentally prepared to step down from the role. After the series-opening first T20I was washed out in Guwahati, Sri Lanka suffered heavy defeats in Indore (by seven wickets) and Pune (by 78 runs) to lose 0-2.
Malinga, who went wicketless across the two matches, accepted his own failings while adding that the lack of experienced players who knew their jobs was hurting the team too. “We don’t have that,” Malinga said. “I am ready any time. I am ready to quit.”
Malinga was the captain when Sri Lanka won their maiden ICC World T20 title in 2014 and continued into the role till 2016 before being handed back the job in late 2018. There are reports in the Sri Lankan media of an apparent rift in the team under Malinga’s captaincy which, if true, could make the veteran bowler’s job even tougher in the world cup year.
With the current state of Sri Lankan cricket, it’s in Malinga’s best interests if he steps down as captain and allows a youngster like Dasun Shanka or Kusal Perera to take over the reins. They would certainly need his bowling to be in good shape if they are going to pose any threats in the World T20. His stint as captain recently has led to more humiliation to his legacy so it won’t be a surprise if he sees ‘Slinga Malinga’ resign as Sri Lanka T20I skipper soon.
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