Over the years, the Indian cricket team has seen some legendary players don its jersey on the international arena. Time and time again their comes a leader with unmatched cricketing brain, who is given the mantle of leading one of the best teams in the sport.
The task of captaining India is not just limited to on-field heroics but tackling off-field scrutiny as well. Whenever a team wins, captain gets the credit and when it loses, the skipper bears the brunt. Such a high pressure job requires a character like Sourav Ganguly, who is always in your face, or like MS Dhoni, who takes care of everything without breaking a sweat.
There have been 33 captains in the longest format so far while 24 skippers in ODIs for India. However, there have been a few modern-day greats who could have led the team well but weren’t given the opportunity because the other candidates were slightly better.
Let’s take a look at three cricketers who were excellent players but were never given the task to lead India on the international level.
All-rounder Yuvraj Singh will go down as one of the greatest limited overs players ever in the history of the game. His willow used to breath fire and his wily spin-bowling brought many wickets. The one quality that Yuvraj was filled in abundance with was that he was a big-match player.
He used to hold tough situations with the scruff of its neck and was an expert in leading from the front. The fact that he was man of the series in both World T20 2007 and World Cup 2011 says it all.
Despite such credentials, Yuvraj was never given the opportunity to lead the side due to the emergence of Dhoni. It’s difficult for any player to dislodge a player from his position who has led the team to multiple world titles and innumerable other trophies.
For middle-order maestro VVS Laxman, batting wasn’t just an ability, it was art. The way he used to paint runs across the lush green canvas was a sight to behold. A consistent run-getter in the longest format while a more than capable white-ball batsman, Laxman was a well-respected campaigner in the dressing room.
He was a trusted lieutenant to captains Sourav Ganguly, Rahul Dravid and Anil Kumble but never got the chance to lead the team himself.
After bringing down the curtains on his career, Laxman is now a widely respected cricket pundit and commentator. He wore the jersey of India for 15 years but didn’t get to lead the side even on a temporary basis.
From giving away 15 runs in the first over of the 2003 World Cup final, to scalping three wickets in the 2011 World Cup final, fast-bowler Zaheer Khan saw everything during the course of his illustrious career. He was a wise pacer and that helped him become one of the best fast bowlers the county has ever produced. Whenever then-captain Sourav Ganguly used to feel the heat from opposition batsmen, he would turn to Zaheer, who seldom disappointed.
A true servant of the game for India, who did well in all the formats he played in. He could have made a decent skipper considering how well he used to play with the minds of batsmen and lead the Indian bowling attack at the same time.