Arun Venugopal is a correspondent at ESPNcricinfo. @scarletrun
Ishant Sharma, the India fast bowler, has replaced Gautam Gambhir as Delhi captain for the 2017-18 Ranji Trophy season.
This is the first time Ishant, 29, has been entrusted with the leadership of the side. With an experience of 77 Tests under his belt, a DDCA official felt Ishant was the best man for the job. "He is the senior-most man in the team," the official told ESPNcricinfo. "Also, we felt it was better to have a bowler as captain. Over the years, many international sides, too, have had success with bowlers as captains, like Imran Khan and Wasim Akram, so we wanted to have a man who understood the bowlers' perspective." Ishant, however, will have to hand over the reins to Virat Kohli if the latter is available.
Atul Wassan, the chairman of the selection committee, said the decision to appoint Ishant was arrived at following a discussion with Gambhir. "We just wanted another role for Gambhir" Wassan told ESPNcricinfo. "We wanted him to concentrate more [on his batting] and he also wanted more responsibility as a batsman, so we just wanted a change. So, it's not like we have removed him. He was our first choice [as captain].
"We wanted to groom Ishant and Gambhir suggested this was the way forward. We are all on the same page." Wassan also said that Rishabh Pant, who was appointed captain ahead of the Vijay Hazare Trophy last season, would continue to lead the limited-overs sides. "Rishabh is the future of Delhi cricket and we would like to groom him," he said. "And, Gautam will be the mentor [to Pant]. We have all seen how well he has captained in the IPL. And, this is the best chance because Gautam might not be there for too long. But, till the time he's there, we can utilise his mentorship."
Apart from the off-field administrative issues plaguing Delhi cricket, there was an altercation between Gambhir and coach KP Bhaskar in March following which an enquiry committee found Gambhir guilty of "seriously inappropriate behaviour." The committee, however, suspended the punishment for a two-year period, ending on March 19, 2019, contingent on Gambhir accepting the ruling. He served a four-match suspended ban.
Gambhir had accused Bhaskar of creating an insecure environment for youngsters. Bhaskar, however, has retained his job ahead of the 2017-18 season.