Firefighter Chetan Sharma Digs a Bigger Hole for Virat Kohli

Chief Selector Chetan Sharma tried to clear the air about selection questions following Virat Kohli's statements.

5 min read
Firefighter Chetan Sharma Digs a Bigger Hole for Virat Kohli

Timing is everything in cricket, especially in batting. But if you work in and around Indian cricket, then you realise that timing is not necessarily all you need to come out on top.

Take for instance Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma. When they have the bat in hand, the duo are unmatched in terms of timing, but for those off the field in Indian cricket, timing around the two has been an issue.

That’s the message that came through when BCCI chief selector Chetan Sharma addressed the media, surprisingly, in a suddenly organised press conference on Friday night.


The subtext of the press conference seemed to be centred around providing life lessons to everyone in the media, rather than providing clear and precise answers to current and previous selection queries.

That the media conference was organised is itself a win for those outraging on social and mainstream media since December 8, 2021. But as usual, the timing of the press conference was awful, considering that it was New Year's Eve and with only three hours to go for the clock to strike 12, we had Sharma explaining delicate matters.

Just so that we don’t forget, the conference was called to name the ODI squad for the series in South Africa, India’s first 50-over competition since July 2021. That almost was a side story, as all the attention was focused on discussing the mess created by the media release on 8 December, 2021 that announced the appointment of Rohit Sharma as the ODI captain, and the subsequent bombshell media statements by Kohli.

Are we any closer to finding the truth after the comments made by Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) president Sourav Ganguly and then Virat Kohli? No, in fact, this particular media performance by Sharma will further widen the chasm between Kohli and the powers that be.

At times he got confused between two selection meetings. The meeting where Kohli dropped the bombshell that he was standing down as T20I captain and the 8 December 2021 selection meeting before which he was told that he was being sacked as ODI leader seemed to befuddle the chairman.

A classic case of too many cooks spoiling the broth was presented to the world in a virtual manner thanks to another messy handling by the Board.


Let us go step by step so that we don’t mess it up further. Here below is an account of what we knew before 31 Dcember's press conference:

  • Kohli quit as T20I captain, while hoping to continue as ODI captain

  • Kohli was sacked as ODI captain, while Sharma was named his replacement

  • The new ODI captain announcement came as an afterthought in a press release that revealed the Test squad for South Africa tour

  • BCCI president Sourav Ganguly did damage control media bytes where he said that he himself had requested Kohli not to step down as T20 captain

  • Kohli did a pre-tour conference where he said no such discussion happened with anyone and that he was told about being sacked as ODI captain just 90 minutes before the meeting

Now that we are abreast with the chronology, let us jump back to the Sharma media performance. He tried very hard to present a nice cozy picture around Indian cricket, especially around the two big boys of Indian cricket. But the moot question remained.

Virat Was Asked Not to Step Down

Did anyone ask Kohli not to step down as T20I captain? Sharma clarified the entire panel including the convenor (BCCI secretary Jay Shah), and some other officials (does that mean Ganguly?) requested him not to step down just before the World Cup.

The clarification from Sharma also suggested that Kohli was asked to reconsider his decision ‘in the interest of Indian cricket’ as the World Cup was just days away. But Kohli did not relent, and the underlying meaning being that he put himself above the nation.

So Kohli’s assertion that no one told him not to quit T20I captaincy was negated about 23 days later by Sharma. In fact, Kohli said everyone received his decision positively and called it a progressive move. But in the conference, Sharma claimed everyone was ‘surprised’ with the sudden move by Kohli.

On this one count, Kohli has been thrown under the proverbial bus because he did not put the nation first.


BCCI boss Sourav Ganguly will certainly feel better with the performance of his former Bengal teammate, Sharma. At least on one count, Ganguly has been proved to be telling the truth.

The onus is now on Kohli to continue the match by returning the serve from Sharma. If he does so before the next Test in Johannesburg, then we may well have more distraction for Kohli.

No ODI Captaincy Loss After T20 Call

Sharma also clarified that no one told Kohli that he would lose his ODI job if he quit T20I captaincy. But that said, the whole brouhaha about Kohli being told just 90 minutes before the meeting is now a secondary issue. The important matter is that a simple decision of changing course in white ball cricket has been spectacularly mishandled.

Now this brings us to another point that in the release on the day Kohli quit T20I captaincy, Shah had claimed that he had been in talks with him for close to six months on the leadership role. So does that mean Shah and Kohli were discussing an important cricketing matter without keeping the selection panel in the loop? What else explains the surprise of the selection panel, because Shah himself confirmed on record that discussions were ongoing on Kohli’s future course as the leader.

No Time For Such a Media Session

The timing of the Sharma's press conference, a day after a historic Test triumph in Centurion was foolhardy. This was the time to douse the fire and rejoice, much like what the Indian squad did at Centurion with their hotel staff. But instead, this unwarranted media performance has once again shone the light on the issue that was buried once the Centurion Test started.


The best bit was reserved for the last where Sharma claimed that all was well between Virat and Rohit, they dined together, sat together and conferred on every issue with selectors. If that is really the case, why did this issue arise in the first place?

The answer is pretty simple: because of lack of communication, both internal and external.

The first attempt to stem the external communication rot was taken on the last day of 2021, but the timing was awful as ever. Let us hope 2022 does not allow this issue to linger on any further, in Sharma’s own words: for the sake of Indian cricket.

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