Mithali Raj controversy: Time to nominate Smriti Mandhana skipper in all codecs, scrap twin captaincy components

The England and Wales Cricket Board launched Probability-To-Shine contracts for his or her ladies’s crew in 2008. That crew then gained each ODI and T20I world titles the subsequent yr. Cricket Australia adopted with comparable strikes and improved them each few years. They gained the subsequent three World T20 titles and a World Cup since. India launched central contracts in 2015. They reached the finals of the Girls’s World Cup in 2017 after crashing and burning in 2013, and returned to the highest 4 of the World T20 this yr, after having final certified in 2010.

File image of Smriti Mandhana. ICC

The arithmetic is evident. Spend money on your ladies’s groups, and in a world the place you have already got a head-start, you’ll win titles. Professionalism will carry you titles.

Which brings us to 2 selections taken throughout this World T20, one within the title of being skilled, and the opposite the precise reverse. Mithali Raj was omitted of India’s semi-final, as India determined to check the new-found perception that they might win with daring hearts, younger legs, and even some moist ears. The coverage introduced them their best-ever profitable streak of eight video games in T20Is, together with wins towards New Zealand and Australia, so it’s laborious to guage it after one loss. Nevertheless it’s fallout is questions over the ODI captain’s future in T20Is.

The opposite choice was from Annisha Gupta, who was understood to be Mithali’s supervisor, as she unsuitably ranted about how Harmnapreet Kaur was unsuitable to guide India. In an interview to ESPNCricinfo, she later admitted that she was “just a little offended” as she tweeted that, and deleted her account.

Two years in the past, this might not have been information. With elevated professionalism comes elevated media scrutiny, and this technology of cricketers – and those that symbolize them – bear the burden of getting to discover ways to adapt to that.

In an email to the BCCI that has been leaked, Mithali clarified that it was a distinction of opinion with the coach, and with Harmanpreet it was solely her “name to assist the choice of the coach to go away me out of the XI was baffling and hurtful.” Regardless of this ‘clarification’, I think there will likely be a sillage of discontent between the 2 captains ought to they proceed to share a dressing room.

And this case is partly of the BCCI’s personal creation.

Planning for the subsequent World Cup begins the day after the final one ends. But India continued with the twin captaincy mannequin even after the 2017 World Cup. The logical factor to do would have been handy the reins of the ODI crew to Harmanpreet, with Mithali aged 35 and much from a certainty for the 2021 World Cup.

This mirrored one in every of two issues: a scarcity of foresight, or a insecurity within the readiness of Harmanpreet Kaur.

Almost a yr later, the second has not but been confirmed unfounded. Within the semi-final, Harmanpreet Kaur’s ways bordered on inexplicable, as she continued with defensive fields when the sport might solely have been gained with wickets being taken. (This might have been the tactic that the crew administration employed, however I discover it laborious to consider that Ramesh Powar would go for a defensive strategy, when aggression has being the leitmotif of his quick tenure.) 5 months in the past, Harmanpreet dedicated an analogous tactical error that put India in a weak place within the Asia Cup Ultimate, when she used a frontline bowler to finish an over, leaving India a bowler quick on the finish.

Has anybody forgotten her outburst at Deepti Sharma within the World Cup semi-final, the one which left the then 19-year outdated on the verge of tears? For those who had, we had been reminded of it by her berating of 18-year outdated Jemimah Rodrigues on this semi-final, after one other dodgy run. Harmanpreet has mentioned in an interview, that whereas she is a shy off the sector, “on the sector I’m very aggressive”. Emotion is all the time a think about cricket, however professionalism calls for that it’s restrained at occasions, else we’re responsible of being unfair in the direction of Gupta.

The BCCI, distracted and reactive, have let two power-centres type within the ladies’s crew, two that will now discover it troublesome to coexist. One could not make it to 2021, and the opposite almost definitely will, although the considered her main India doesn’t make you fully snug (particularly if you’re an adolescent).

So the answer could lie in middle-ground. Mithali is 35, and never the chief for the longer term, even within the ODI format. Harmanpreet is 29, and may lead India to the subsequent World Cup, however what then? So maybe it’s time for the captaincy to go to Smriti Mandhana.

Mandhana is 22, top-of-the-line batswoman on the earth, and the present T20I vice-captain. In her interactions with the media, she has come throughout as open and sincere, whereas all the time conscious of the pursuits of the crew. She is properly revered on the worldwide circuit, and throughout the crew, and is thus greatest positioned to bridge the hole that may naturally come up when Mithali and Harmanpreet share a dressing room once more. She additionally appears to have a superb working relationship with Ramesh Powar, and will his contract be prolonged (which I consider it ought to, however extra on that in one other piece), they might type a profitable mixture.

Full disclosure: Mandhana and I performed for a similar state crew, Maharashtra, so there will likely be those that say that my name is biased. However I consider that the truth that we’ve shared a dressing room places me in a greater place to make this name.

I’ve seen her cricketing evolution first hand, proper from when she was the pre-teen child of the crew. I’ve seen her develop into the batting mainstay, shouldering the burden of being the distinction between emphatic victory and crushing defeat. I’ve seen her take up state captaincy at age 18, and deal with gamers like me, a decade her senior, in addition to make the brand new youngsters snug, a testomony to her man-management expertise. I’ve additionally seen her pull off wins towards extra fancied groups, and I consider she has the tactical acumen for the highest degree.

I’ve seen arise for the gamers she believes in. I’ve by no means seen her lose her mood on the pitch, regardless of many exasperating moments. And most significantly, I’ve seen her develop into her personal during the last two years.

In fact, she just isn’t but the perfect she could possibly be as a batswoman, and there may be the chance that captaincy – with all of the lifeless weights that includes within the subcontinent – might stifle her expertise. However she additionally appears the perfect candidate to set in place a tradition of respect, honesty and professionalism on this younger crew, and take it ahead into the subsequent two World Cup cycles. With the whole lot that has been taking part in out within the media during the last week, India want such a shift greater than ever.

Allow us to not faux that that is any panacea, and that World Cups will dangle decrease if Mandhana leads. Indian ladies’s cricket wants a systemic reboot: In an open letter to the BCCI I wrote after the 2017 World Cup Ultimate, I outlined 4 steps that needed to be taken to maneuver the sport ahead. Barely greater than a kind of has been applied. There’s a solution to go.

However begin the place you might be. The very first thing India might do is focus the management within the palms of a person who can take the crew right into a extra skilled period, and to take action now, with a T20 World Cup 15 months away.

The writer is a former India cricketer, and now a contract journalist and broadcaster. She hosts the  YouTube Channel, ‘Cricket With Snehal’, and tweets @SnehalPradhan


Printed Date: November 29, 2018

| Up to date Date: November 29, 2018


Up to date Date: Nov 29, 2018


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