Pace spearhead Jasprit Bumrah has said that if given the opportunity he is ready to take on the job of India captain. “If the opportunity arose, it would be an honor. I don’t think any player would say no,” Bumrah said at a Monday press conference.
The speedy bowler has been promoted to vice-captain for the Indian team for South Africa’s three-game ODI series which begins on Wednesday. KL Rahul is the alternate captain of the series as regular captain Rohit Sharma is yet to recover from a hamstring injury.
After Virat Kohli stepped down as Test captain at the end of the South African series, speculation is rife over who his successor will be. While Rahul and Rohit would be the favourites, former India captain and one of the game’s influential voices, Sunil Gavaskar, had suggested the name of wicketkeeper Rishabh Pant. Now Bumrah’s name can also be added to the list.
Rarely has a fast bowler been chosen to lead the Indian cricket team. Kapil Dev was a glorious exception. As for Bumrah, he is one of only three players with a central A+ contract – the other two being Kohli and Rohit – and is indispensable in any format.
“Ready to do it if given the responsibility. In any leadership group, I always look forward to contributing in the same way,” Bumrah said.
The selectors had promoted Rohit to Test vice-captain ahead of the South Africa tour, replacing Ajinkya Rahane. But the fly-half, prone to injury of late, has been ruled out of the entire tour. When a back spasm prevented Kohli from playing the second Test in Johannesburg, Rahul led the team and Bumrah was the vice-captain.
A BCCI official told The Indian Express that at the moment the selectors are close to appointing Rohit as captain in all formats but beyond that there remains a question mark. Rohit’s questionable fitness record could be an obstacle to making him a long-term captain. Moreover, he turns 35 in April and is a year and a half older than Kohli.
Bumrah’s promotion to ODI vice-captain for the South African series is a clear indication that the selection committee sees leadership potential in him.
Bumrah, however, did not play the transition factor after Kohli’s exit. “We understand the change. We’ve all played enough cricket. As a team, we will make positive contributions,” he said.
He spoke highly of Kohli’s leadership. “He (Kohli) brought energy. He introduced the culture of fitness. He was driven. Everyone moved in one direction under his leadership.
“It’s his decision. He knows his body. He knows his state of mind. We respect that. It was a pleasure to play under his captaincy. I made my debut with him.