Given Virat’s Test record as captain, he can walk away from the role very, very proud of what he has achieved.
In a new interview segment introduced by International Cricket Council (ICC) named ICC review, former Australia captain and legend, Ricky Ponting shared his thoughts with Isa Guha on captaincy and on the recent development of Virat Kohli choosing to step down as India’s Test captain.
After recent announcement of the white ball captaincy reins being handed over to Rohit Sharma, another unpredicted message soon followed with Kohli stepping down as India’s Test captain a day post the 1-2 Test series loss to South Africa in Freedom Trophy 2021-22.
Surprised because of Virat’s decision to relinquish Test captaincy
Ponting, during the interview, confirmed his surprise on the decision saying, “Yes, it did actually (surprise me), probably the main reason why is I had a chat and good catch-up with Virat during the first part of IPL (2021) before it got postponed.”
He also added that during his chat, Virat mentioned letting go of the shorter format captaincy but was passionate to continue in his red ball role.
"He was talking then about stepping away (from captaincy) from white ball cricket and how passionate he was to continue to be Test captain. He just loved and cherished that job and that post so much. Obviously, the Indian Test team had achieved a lot under his leadership. When I heard it, I was really, really surprised,” Ponting quipped.
Reflecting back to the days of being captain himself, the Australian legend further went on to discuss what may have been the possible reasons for Kohli to have come to that decision.
"So, I think there is potentially a shelf-life for international cricket captains and even coaches. Virat's been there for close to seven years now. If there's a country in the world that's the most difficult to captain, it’s probably India because of just how popular the game is and how much every single Indian loves to see the fortunes of the Indian cricket team, whether they are good or bad. You weigh all those things up,” he said.
India can be proud of Captain Kohli’s role in promoting a fierce brand of cricket, says Ponting
Virat Kohli has been a stand out captain, captaining India in 68 Tests with 40 wins under his belt, the most for any Indian captain and behind (in win percentage) only to Steve Waugh, Don Bradman and Ricky Ponting. Not only has his record been staggering but his leadership has been highlighted with foresight and a fierce brand of cricket which led India to the top of ICC Test rankings.
Ponting acknowledging the same, commented, "It was more of a staggering achievement for India than it was for us," said Ponting. "When I took over, I took over a side that had dominated world cricket for a long time,” he added.
"If you think about India before Virat, it was about winning a lot of games at home and not winning quite as many overseas. The thing that improved the most was India winning a few more games overseas and that's something that he (Virat) and all of Indian cricket have to be really proud of,” Ponting noted.
"While he (Virat) has been captain, they (India) were a fiercely competitive team that probably elevated themselves to top positions in world rankings and things a lot of people might not have thought possible. They have probably carried around arguably one of the best fast bowling attacks in world cricket for the last four or five years. No one would ever have expected that and I think a lot of that is what Virat brought to the team once he became a leader,” he added.
Ponting further said, "Given his (Virat’s) Test record as captain, he can walk away from the role very, very proud of what he has achieved."
Rohit Sharma has elevated his game in Test cricket and is a fabulous leader for MI
When asked about who would be the possible candidates for replacing Kohli, Ponting spoke about his time in Mumbai Indians (MI) and how well Rohit Sharma handled the responsibility of captaincy without categorically vouching for the Mumbai batter’s name for the coveted role.
"The owners and the team management wanted to know who I thought would be the appropriate person to take over the leadership at the Mumbai Indians. There were a few names thrown around between owners and the other coaches but it was really clear to me that there was only one guy that can lead the team – he was a young guy and his name happened to be Rohit Sharma,” Ponting said.
"I think the proof is in the pudding with what he has done at the Mumbai Indians since that moment on. He has been a very successful leader there and has been when he has led India on a few occasions as well,” he added.
Ponting further said, "If I go back to what I said at the start about being on top of your game when you take over captaincy then it is pretty hard to argue after what he (Rohit) has done with his game in Test cricket in the last 2-3 years. He has played as well as anybody in the world through that period of time, and we know how good he is as a white ball player.”
Ponting also spoke highly of Ajinkya Rahane who he has coached personally during his time at Delhi Capitals (DC) and of KL Rahul’s ability as an all-format player and how it is an advantage to maintain a singular voice in leadership across all formats.
Virat Kohli recently resigned as Test captain of India after a successful 7-year stint in the role with 40 wins in 68 Tests.
The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) is yet to announce who will be the new Test captain.