Twenty20 is a format in which things can happen in a matter of minutes. The course of a match can change because of one event. In one over. Even one ball. There is very little scope for error; everything has to be anticipated and planned for, and everything has to be executed to a ‘T’. And hence, the role of a captain becomes all important in the T20 scheme of things.
Naming the XI who will play is only one small responsibility of the job of a captain. The real challenge begins when he takes the field. There are several issues a captain has to address, depending on conditions, circumstances and events on the field. Successful captains will seldom react; they will have seen a situation coming at them much before it has arrived and would have initiated a plan of action to counter it.The twenty-over format can be extremely harsh if a captain is caught unawares or if he doesn’t react quickly to something he didn’t see coming.
After nearly two weeks into VIVO IPL 2017, we at iplt20.com caught up with a few of the cricketers who are part of the elite panel of commentators, to get their thoughts on which captain had impressed them in these early days in the tournament.
The Australian speedster Brett Lee had plenty of admiration for his former teammate David Warner. Speaking about the elements of Warner’s captaincy that had impressed him, Lee said, “Warner is the kind of personality who wants to go out there and set the tone. You’ll seen him set the tone with his batting and in the field, and the rest of the team will follow if the captain leads the way. Warner is the kind of captain who will go out there and score a big hundred, he’s energetic in the field and will throw himself around. He’s the kind of player who will allow the team to grow with him.So, if you look at all the boxes, I think David Warner ticks them all.
Explaining Warner’s development as captain, Lee said, “He hadn’t been a captain too much before the IPL. But he’s learnt quickly, and having the vice-captaincy of Australia has helped him as it has allowed him to ease into that leadership role. He’s definitely grown into the role; he is well respected as captain – which is very, very important, and he is loved by all his teammates. He’s matured so much on and off the field.”
Danny Morrison likes the way Gautam Gambhir is calling the shots for Kolkata Knight Riders. Explaining his choice, Morrison said, “I think GG (Gautam Gambhir) has been very impressive. He’s been with KKR for a few years now and he understands the dynamics of the side well. I think he seems to have a bit more of a smile on his face, he is quite relaxed and he is enjoying his cricket a lot more. He appears to be in a very good space.
“I think he also knows that he is in the twilight of his career and that gives him the freedom to enjoy his game a lot more and play freely.”
Melanie Jones is impressed with how Zaheer Khan is building a culture within the team and keeping the good vibes around the squad. “I’m impressed with the way the Delhi Daredevils have started this season. They’re a vastly improved side compared to last season, and I think that has a lot to do with the leadership of Zaheer Khan. When I see him, I just sense he is thoroughly enjoying his game a lot more and wants that out of his players as well. I think he is really working on the culture of the team, and when you have a happy team, you generally play well. And that’s the case with DD now.”
Sivaramakrishnan almost instantly came up with the name of Zaheer Khan. “Zaheer has been brilliant as captain so far this season”, he said.
Siva also identified elements in Zaheer’s role as leader that he appreciated. “He is vastly experienced, and he is putting all that experience and knowledge to use. He’s been good in the way he rotates his bowlers and in the kind of field he sets. He is always looking for wickets even though this is the 20-over format; he gets the right bowlers at the right times and sets attacking fields and has therefore been very successful”, Siva explained.
Ravi Shastri chose Rohit Sharma, Gautam Gambhir and David Warner as the three captains who had impressed him in the first ten days of the season. But he was quick to add, “Zaheer Khan is quickly joining that pack; Zak always seems to be in control and comes up with some well-thought fields.”
“Rohit, Gauti and Warner come into the tournament with settled sides and have a good understanding of who has what to offer within the team. With Zak, he is working with a young team and he has been extremely good in marshalling his resources and getting the best out of the team.”