After the Brickbats, it’s time Rohit and Dravid got the Bouquets

Rohit Sharma in action for Team India. Rahul Dravid in Team India’s training session (Image: Debasis Sen)

A captain being as good as his team is the ultimate cliche. In cricket, it is the team management that is perhaps as good as the players combined. If the team does well, the captain and the coach looks good, and vice versa. Rohit Sharma and Rahul Dravid got a lot of flak in the aftermath of the World Cup, and some of it was deserved. They made the mistake of not playing R Ashwin in the WTC final, and were criticised for it. They made the mistake of opening the bowling with Mohammed Shami in the World Cup final and were criticised for that.

India were limp in South Africa in the first Test, and again in the first Test against England again spin. The captain was savaged for it and trolled as well. But then, if they can be criticised, they need to be praised as well. This Test match has been one of the best under Rohit and Dravid, and is in a sense comparable to Brisbane (January 2021). Without Virat Kohli, Shami, KL Rahul Rishabh Pant – and Ashwin for all of day 3, typically the moving day – this was a very special win. To be able to rally the team and stop Bazball deserves praise, and Rohit and Dravid deserve the bulk of it.

While we celebrate Yashasvi Jaiswal, Shubman Gill and Ravindra Jadeja, we shouldn’t forget that it was Rohit’s 131 that actually set up the game for India. At 33-3, the game was drifting towards England and the captain needed to stand up. After him, there were two debutants to come, so Rohit had no option but to stand tall. That’s what he did. Again, with England at 207-2 on the third morning, he needed to stop Bazball. Check the scoring rate which was 6.5 the previous afternoon.


Against an in-form Ben Duckett, it was a hard ask. Rohit managed to do that. While some will say that Joe Root played a false shot that opened the door, it was to Rohit’s credit, and Bumrah’s, that they induced the mistake. England wasn’t able to score and that’s not their cricket. In the second innings as well, England were 15-0 from 6 overs. Normally, they make at least double that. The Duckett attempt to pinch a single that saw him run out wasn’t on, and who knows if it was the desire to score fast that prompted the error of judgement.

Captaincy is never an exact science. Leaders often make decisions on a whim, and the role of the coach becomes important in making sure there’s course correction if things go awry on the field. Neither Rohit nor Dravid is given to making outlandish statements before or after matches. Both trust their players to go out and go what’s been discussed. That sort of approach clearly helped the likes of Sarfaraz Khan and Dhruv Jurel relax and enjoy their debuts.

To make his players believe that they could win with without Ashwin, that it was possible to defeat England with five key players missing, was a tribute to Rohit’s leadership. While the deficiencies are still there – the fast bowling beyond Bumrah, Mohammed Siraj and Shami still looks bare, and some of the batters are still suspect against spin – the truth is that Rohit and his team have stalled Bazball. Rather, they are all over England and starting to take control. Going into the fourth Test, it is India, despite missing Virat and others, who are calling the shots. Rohit and Dravid deserve a lot of credit for that.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *