“Everything has to come to a halt at some stage and for me, as Test captain of India, it’s now.” With those words earlier this month, Virat Kohli announced that he was stepping down, leaving the world’s No3 Test side without a skipper.
It means there will be a new man at the helm when India visit England in July for the delayed fifth match of their Test series.
Kohli bows out with most wins of any India captain, but who’s next in line for the prized position?
Rohit Sharma seems the most logical choice – currently the limited overs captain. He, like Kohli, has a stellar Test batting average – 58.48.
Having the same captain for all three formats might make the transition smoother while India gets used to a new leader.
However, Sharma has a history of picking up injuries and has already been ruled out for the rest of the current South African tour with a hamstring problem.
Rahul has already captained India in the 2nd Test in South Africa, where he was named Man of the Match.
At 29, he should be at his peak and has the experience to lead the next generation of cricketers.
He’s also widely regarded as the most electric fielder in the India set-up and one of the few to match Kohli’s fitness levels.
Despite this, Rahul’s place in the team is not guaranteed, which undermines his captaincy credentials.
Bumrah is at the spearhead of India’s feared pace attack but the BCCI – India’s governing body – may be wary of making a fast bowler captain.
Australian captain Pat Cummins has proved fast bowlers can captain teams to winning series.
He has taken on a lot of cricket in the last two years, having played in all three formats. If made captain, management may have to make him a Test specialist to prolong his career.
India registered a historic series win in Australia under Rahane’s captaincy last year when Kohli was unavailable.
He also stepped in as skipper for five Tests and has remained unbeaten with four wins and one draw under his belt.
Familiarity with the role does give him credibility but, with an average of 20.83 from 23 innings in 2022, Rahane must first cement his place in the team.
Ashwin has played 84 Tests which makes him an experienced candidate.
He is currently the second best bowler and all-rounder in the world, according to ICC rankings.
However, he tends to lose his spot in the team when his side are playing on overseas seam-friendly wickets. Ravindra Jadeja is usually the preferred spin option in those circumstances.
Although 35, the lighter workload of spinners may mean he can go on longer than some team-mates.