The vice-captaincy position in the Indian cricket team has undergone some major changes recently. With the regular captain Rohit Sharma missing matches due to injury, the role of the vice-captain has become even more crucial for the team. The vice-captain not only has to lead the team in the main captain’s absence but also assist him in strategizing and decision-making when the captain is playing.
The current vice-captain of the Indian cricket team is not K.L. Rahul. Some key details:
- In December 2022, the BCCI removed KL Rahul as vice-captain of the Indian Test team. This was ahead of the Test series against Bangladesh.
- The decision was taken due to Rahul’s poor run of form in Test cricket in 2022. He managed just 137 runs in 7 innings across 4 Tests.
- In the first 2 Tests against Australia at home, Rahul scored 20 runs in 4 innings which led to his removal.
- Rohit Sharma will now lead India in Tests without an officially designated vice-captain.
- Rahul has been replaced by veteran batters Cheteshwar Pujara and Ravichandran Ashwin in the leadership group.
- However, Rahul continues to be the vice-captain in ODIs and T20Is as of now.
- Going forward, his place in the Test side will depend on regaining form. The vice-captain position is likely to be re-evaluated later.
The Role and Evolution of the Vice-Captain in Cricket
What is a Vice-Captain in Cricket?
The vice-captain in cricket is the player on the team who assists the official captain with leadership duties. Traditionally, the vice-captain acts as a deputy to the captain, filling in when the captain is unavailable for a match or series. The vice-captain may take over leadership on the field, assist with administrative tasks like tossing the coin, or serve in an advisory role to the captain regarding strategy and tactics.
The main responsibilities of the vice-captain are:
- Lead the team when the captain is absent
- Offer tactical advice and input to the captain
- Help maintain team discipline and uphold standards
- Serve as a liaison between players and management
- Motivate players and boost team morale
- Groom younger players and aid their development
Evolution of the Role
In the early days of cricket, when the sport was still amateur, the vice-captain position was somewhat informal. Teams only had a captain and a vice to fill in when needed.
As cricket professionalized, especially after World War II, the vice-captain role became more prominent and specialized. Teams started strategically grooming players for future captaincy by making them vice-captain first.
The vice-captain became more of a leadership figure in their own right, instead of just a fill-in for the captain. They were expected to take a proactive role in team preparations, drills, culture, and mentoring younger players.
Some teams have even divided up responsibilities between multiple vice-captains, each focusing on a specific aspect like batting, bowling, or fielding. This allows multiple leaders to emerge and brings more voices into strategic decisions.
Types of Vice-Captains
There are generally two types of vice-captains:
The Heir Apparent - This is when a senior player who is seen as the next in line for captaincy is made vice-captain. It gives them on-the-job training and grooming. Examples include Ricky Ponting under Steve Waugh for Australia.
The Loyal Lieutenant - This vice-captain is a veteran player who is highly respected in the team but not necessarily captaincy material. They provide advice and support to the official captain. Examples include Hashim Amla under Graeme Smith for South Africa.
In summary, the role of vice-captain in cricket has moved far beyond just fill-in, becoming a position of leadership and responsibility in its own right. The evolution reflects cricket’s transition into a modern, professional sport.
Recent Changes to India’s Vice-Captaincy
KL Rahul Removed from Vice-Captain Role
Earlier this year, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) removed KL Rahul from the role of vice-captain of the Indian cricket team. Rahul had been appointed vice-captain in 2021, but after a string of poor performances with the bat, the selectors decided to relieve him of his leadership duties.
Rahul had shown promise as a leader when captaining India in some limited overs matches, but his form with the bat deteriorated dramatically. Over the last year, Rahul averaged only 24.64 in ODIs and 31.16 in T20s. With India gearing up for the 2023 ODI World Cup, the selectors likely felt Rahul needed to focus solely on regaining his batting form.
Removing him as vice-captain gives Rahul one less responsibility to worry about. The BCCI will hope this allows the talented opener to rediscover his best batting without the additional pressures of leadership.
Rohit Sharma Given Power to Choose Stand-In Vice Captain
With KL Rahul stripped of the official vice-captaincy, the BCCI has given captain Rohit Sharma more authority to choose a deputy on the field when needed. Previously, the designated vice-captain would take over whenever Rohit was rested or injured. Now, Rohit can select a stand-in vice-captain on a match-by-match basis depending on the playing XI.
This provides more flexibility in leadership. Rohit can now determine who is most suitable to be vice-captain based on current form, conditions, and tactical considerations for a specific match. It also gives more players opportunities to develop as leaders by occasionally taking on the vice-captain duties.
Potential Replacements for Vice-Captain
As Rohit now has the ability to rotate the vice captaincy, several senior players could be handed the reins when Rahul is not available.
Experienced batters like Virat Kohli and Shikhar Dhawan seem like front-runners to take over the vice-captain role when required. Both have led India before and offer stability as well-respected players.
Rishabh Pant has also emerged as a future leader for India. The exciting wicketkeeper-batter captained the Delhi Capitals in the IPL and could be groomed for more leadership opportunities on the international stage.
Hardik Pandya recently led India to a T20 series win over the West Indies. His all-round skills and growing maturity make him another contender to fill the void left by Rahul.
Jasprit Bumrah is another option, giving the team leadership from its bowling attack. As the top-ranked ODI bowler, Bumrah would provide helpful tactical input for Rohit from behind the stumps.
The coming months will reveal who becomes Rohit’s go-to choice when he needs a new vice-captain in the short term. Regardless, India has several qualified candidates to help share the leadership load until someone cements themselves as the full-time vice-captain again.
The Declining Role of the Vice-Captain in Cricket
Leadership Dynamics are Shifting in the Modern Game
The role of vice-captain in cricket has traditionally been well-defined - to deputize when the official captain is unavailable and provide support and advice as a senior member of the team. However, in recent years, the prominence and responsibilities of the vice-captain have noticeably declined in many teams across different formats. This perceived reduced importance of the position can be attributed to several factors.
Firstly, the structures of coaching support have evolved significantly in modern cricket. Teams now have extensive backroom staff including head coaches, batting and bowling specialists, fielding coaches, trainers, analyzers and psychologists. With this breadth of expertise, leadership and advisory responsibilities once held by the vice-captain are now distributed across the support staff. Senior coaches in particular have taken a more hands-on role in tactics and mentoring.
Additionally, leadership within teams is no longer concentrated solely with the captain and vice-captain. Senior players are emerging as leaders within their own disciplines, guiding teammates on bowling variations or batting techniques. Informal mentorship groups are more common, with younger players learning from different veterans. Teams are fostering leadership qualities across various members, reducing reliance on the vice-captain as the sole deputy leader.
Could the Vice-Captaincy Become Obsolete?
Given these shifts in leadership dynamics, the cricket world is debating whether the clearly defined vice-captain role is becoming obsolete. There are certainly valid arguments on both sides.
Some believe the position holds value as an official leadership figure behind the captain, ready to step in when required. Role clarity is important, and the title grants the vice-captain authority when deputizing. This school of thought advocates for retaining the traditional role.
However, others argue that leadership is now demonstrated through actions, not titles. Mentoring, strategic input and team culture are driven by many senior players, not just a designated vice. With less responsibility, the case grows for phasing out the formal role over time.
It will be fascinating to observe how teams balance these perspectives in coming years. Whether the vice-captaincy disappears fully may ultimately depend on evolving leadership styles and preferences of individual captains and teams. But the role’s reduced importance in the modern era appears indisputable. The leadership landscape has changed.
The vice-captaincy in Indian cricket is undergoing major changes, reflecting evolving leadership dynamics in the modern game. KL Rahul’s removal shows that poor individual performance can cost a leadership role, even for an heir apparent vice-captain. With Rahul stripped of the post, Rohit Sharma now has more flexibility to choose deputies based on current form and tactical needs. While this provides opportunities to develop multiple leaders, it also points to the reduced importance of a designated vice-captain.
Senior players like Kohli, Dhawan and Bumrah can provide stability as situational vice-captains. But Pant and Pandya represent a new generation of potential leaders for India. The informal mentorship culture also allows leadership to emerge organically across the team. The case for phasing out the formal vice-captain role grows as veterans share responsibilities and younger players gain opportunities. While the title still commands respect, actions define modern leadership. India’s changes reflect cricket’s shifting dynamics. With less reliance on a solitary vice-captain, leadership now stems from a diverse group. The evolution suggests coaching structures and senior player councils shape teams more than a single vice-captain figurehead.