Virat Kohli’s captaincy: Numbers and other perspectives


Virat Kohli got teary-eyed as soon as he got the chance to win the IPL title for the first time, prompting critics of his captaincy to target him. One cricket lover I know made his favorite joke: “Great batsman but he doesn’t have that much of a captaincy.”

Former England captain Mike Brearley, in his brilliant treatise, The Art of Captaincy, sheds light on why exceptional sportsmanship doesn’t make a good captain. “Certainly the best player is not necessarily a sufficient captain, any one makes the best salesman sales manager,” Brearley writes. “Indeed, exceptionally talented people may find it difficult to understand the problems of average performers in their field. The Peter Principle is that people are inevitably promoted beyond their area of ​​excellence.”

There are enough examples in cricket history to confirm this theory. There can be many reasons for the failure of a captain. Should Brian Lara’s captaincy record be judged in the context that by the time he entered the job, West Indies had become a costly force?

In 2007, India made a disastrous performance in the ODI World Cup, being knocked out in the first round itself. Rahul Dravid has won Test series in West Indies and England and lost 1-2 in South Africa. But in the 2007 World Cup, there was controversy in the dressing room over Greg Chappell, which led to a debacle because of the ability of the players or Dravid’s captaincy.

One of the biggest upsets in the 1987 Reliance Cup was the West Indies’ exit before the semi-finals. Even the greatness of Viv Richards was to no avail as his team stumbled on the slow tracks. The batting was also strong with Haynes, Richardson, Logie, Hooper and Dujon, but West Indies were severely handicapped for pace and experience.

Walsh still had to find his meter, Patterson and Baptiste Roberts, not in line with the likes of Holding and Garner, who were either lethal on the pitch, who by then had stepped down. “It came two years too late for me as World Cup captain” – or words to effect – quipped Richards after the match. He was not to get another shot at the coveted title.

With no IPL title for RCB (it is impossible for him to resign now), and no ICC title to show so far, Kohli’s captaincy has come under increasing and harsher scrutiny, especially over the years. In. However, examining his captaincy record from another lens, he emerges with flying colors, throwing up a fascinating puzzle.

Kohli is India’s most successful captain in every format in terms of win percentage. In Tests, they have won 58.46% of their 65 matches behind Steve Waugh and Ricky Ponting, who led the greatest Australian teams of all time. MS Dhoni (45%) and Sourav Ganguly (42.85%), two highly successful Indian captains, are behind. Kohli’s captaincy record is also surpassed by Clive Lloyd (48.64% win) and Imran Khan (29.16%), who are regarded as two of the greatest captains in the history of the game.

In ODIs, Kohli has a success percentage of 70.43, which is only improved by Lloyd, Ponting and Hansie Cronje. Even in the more fun, unpredictable T20Is, his win percentage is impressive (65.11), better than any Indian captain, including the respected Dhoni. In fact, he has won the last five bilateral T20 series played by India.

These are very impressive overall figures. However, statistics and data are not the only criteria to determine excellence in captaincy. For example, statistics may not reveal where a captain failed to influence and take advantage of circumstances to lead his team to victory. It may be that one captain has a lower overall win percentage than the other, but he has more titles.

The titles of multi-team (IPL) and multi-nation tournaments have gained importance since 1975 as they are considered to represent a difficulty level not usually associated with bilateral competitions, although this is also not necessarily the case. . India’s victory over Australia in the 2020 Test series was epoch-making, better than any other in the country’s cricket history.

Where Kohli has been found unsuccessful in winning IPL or ICC tournaments, it is difficult to tell. Had India won the inaugural World Test Championship against New Zealand this year, I doubt the debate would have faded. It re-emerged during this IPL, to no avail for Kohli, but could be decided in his favor even if India wins the T20 World Cup.

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