Ravindra Jadeja has relinquished Chennai Super Kings captaincy, handing it back to MS Dhoni, the franchise has confirmed in a statement. According to a team official, the decision was taken after CSK’s last game in this IPL, against Punjab Kings, which the team lost by 11 runs. The four-time champions are languishing at eighth in the table, with just two wins from eight matches.
CSK chief executive Kasi Viswanathan confirmed that this has been purely a cricketing decision, taken at a meeting attended by Jadeja, Dhoni and the team management (head coach Stephen Fleming). “This is a decision made by the management team and Jaddu, a decision which we have now published in the press. Team officials didn’t have to say in this, only the team management. Jaddu expressed his desire to relinquish captaincy and give it back to MSD, who is taking up the responsibility in the larger interest of the franchise,” Viswanathan told The Sunday Express.
Dhoni had given up the CSK captaincy before the start of this year’s IPL, with an eye to the future. In fact, the franchise’s retention policy – Rs 16 crore and Rs 12 crore for Jadeja and Dhoni respectively – also had the latter’s approval. The idea was that the former captain would mother-hen his successor, allowing him to grow into the job. Jadeja has been reverential towards Dhoni and he didn’t hesitate to lean heavily on the ex-skipper for on-field decisions. However, the allrounder’s form this year – 112 runs five wickets from eight matches – prompted him to have a rethink. Despite a very slow start, there’s still belief in the camp that a strong back-end run in the tournament is possible.
— Chennai Super Kings (@ChennaiIPL) April 30, 2022
The CSK press release stated: “Ravindra Jadeja has decided to relinquish captaincy to focus and concentrate more on his game and has requested MS Dhoni to lead CSK.
“MS Dhoni has accepted to lead CSK in the larger interest and to allow Jadeja to focus on his game.”
Impact on Jadeja
There were two reasons why, even after Jadeja took over, Dhoni was often seen making a number of field changes and talking to bowlers. Letting one of the world’s sharpest cricketing brains make some decisions for you isn’t a bad idea. Also Jadeja, being the best all-round fielder, was needed to man the ropes during certain phases in the game. But when the losses mounted, the buck stopped with the new captain.
The handing over the reins back to Dhoni seems like a smooth transfer of power but what effect it will have on Jadeja will be closely watched.
He could reveal in the freedom of being unshackled from responsibility. Not having field settings, bowling changes on his mind from him could help him focus entirely on what he is good at – impactful cameos and sharp bowling spells. Sometimes just the idea of having to lead a side can weigh heavy on the mind of a match-winner, more so when things are not going the team’s way.
Or the resignation could have a detrimental effect on his confidence.
When Jadeja took over, he was seen as an ideal replacement for Dhoni. He was multi-skilled, had the experience of playing at the highest level and was seen as someone who could think on his feet and handle the pressure. By stepping down, he should not start thinking of himself as a lesser player or one who was not good enough at reading the game when the team needed him to be at his sharpest best. The team has still won only two of their eight games and Dhoni too would welcome a smart field change suggestion or batting reshuffle idea from Jadeja.
His India captaincy credentials have taken a hit but Jadeja himself should continue to believe in his abilities, as an all-rounder and a street smart cricketer. Chennai have been hit by injuries too, have played lackluster cricket at times. The team management believes there is still time for a turnaround with Dhoni back-in-charge and have one eye on a top-four finish at the end of the league phase.
Yet Dhoni being back at the helm will only paper over the cracks. In the long run CSK will now have to find a new leader. They are likely to go back to Jadeja, 33, and Dhoni is at the very end of the twilight of his career. Dhoni has taken over in the ‘larger interest’ of the team. But he and everyone at CSK know they need to find someone quickly to fill the big shoes.