Shashank Kishore is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo
IND in ENG (1)
WI v BDESH (2)
ENG v IND (1)
Papua New Guinea in Singapore (1)
NAM T20 (1)
Vitality Blast (9)
Ravi Shastri, the former India head coach, believes Ravindra Jadeja isn't a "natural captain" and looked like a "fish out of water" during his stint at the helm with Chennai Super Kings in IPL 2022. Shastri is also of the opinion that MS Dhoni, who stepped down from the leadership role at the start of the season but was handed back the job after eight games, should lead next year too if he's fit and ready to play.
"He [Jadeja] is not a natural captain. He hasn't captained at any level. So, to give him the responsibility I thought was a little hard on Jadeja," Shastri said on ESPNcricinfo's T20 Time Out. "People might want to judge Jaddu, but it's not his fault. He hasn't captained anywhere. He looked a fish out of water, totally out of place and he's far better off playing as a player. Because he's one of the best around in the business, when it comes to allrounders.
"So let him just focus on his cricket. That [decision to give him the captaincy] cost CSK a few games early on. If you see the form they're in now, if they had this going early on, they'll be right up there in the mix."
Two out of Super Kings' four wins so far this season have come since Dhoni took back the reins, in just three games. They currently placed ninth and need to win all their three remaining games to stand a chance to force a playoff possibility.
Shastri also said that Super Kings should take their time before identifying their next captain, even if it means they wait till next year's mini auction to sign someone from outside the group, like Royal Challengers Bangalore did in acquiring Faf du Plessis, a former Super Kings player.
Responding to a question on whether Super Kings could consider Ruturaj Gaikwad, who has only had limited captaincy experience at the domestic level for Maharashtra, Shastri said he wasn't in favour.
Gaikwad has led his state team in just five one-dayers and five T20s, all during the 2021-22 season. Since his breakthrough IPL season in 2020, he has transitioned to becoming a key member of Super Kings, and was retained along with Dhoni, Jadeja and Moeen Ali ahead of this season.
"You have got to see where the player has come from, what levels of cricket has he played," Shastri said. "Has he captained a side? Does he have the flair for captaincy? You have to look into these kinds of things before jumping to conclusions before deciding whether a player should captain in the future or not. Not just because he's scoring runs, he's the highest run scorer, you become captain.
"Which happens in India a lot. Not just at the state level but also at the national level too, where a player has just been put in because he's getting runs. He might never have captained, might have had very little experience, but his name is in the mix.
"I think captaincy is a totally different job. It demands flair, the ability to read the game, man-management qualities, above all, the ability to communication, not just with players but also media these days, so it comes with a lot of add-ons."
Who could be the options then? "Just like Faf du Plessis for RCB," Shastri said, suggesting Super Kings wait till the auction if need be. "Within the mix, if you think Ruturaj has, or Moeen or even a local player, if there's someone who you think has that ability to lead a side, go for it."
At the time of resuming as captain, Dhoni had said that Jadeja had been affected by the "burden of captaincy" and that he wasn't enjoying the job. "Once you become captain, it means a lot of demands come in," Dhoni had said. "But it affected his mind as the tasks grew. I think captaincy burdened his prep and performances." Dhoni felt at the time that overseeing the job from behind the stumps wasn't something he was prepared to do for long, because he wanted the new captain to develop his own identity.
Shastri believed that being one of the best fielders also meant Jadeja as captain wasn't being able to do justice to his best qualities.
"Another aspect of Jadeja is he is one of the best fielders, if not the best," he said. "When you're the best, you have to patrol the deep, where there are sweepers or you need deep midwicket, deep square-leg, long-on, long-off. These are areas the best fielders go to because of their ability to cover distances and catch the ball. If you're captain of the side and you hedge your bets wanting to be in the circle to marshall resources and control things, your side is the loser."