The Indian team is going through a transition. Rahul Dravid replaced Ravi Shastri as coach recently. A new support staff came in. Virat Kohli is no longer the captain in any of the formats. KL Rahul will lead the side in the first ODI against South Africa on Wednesday.
Jasprit Bumrah, who will be Rahul’s deputy for the series, feels everyone in the side is “quite positive” about these changes and nobody is in a “weird space”.
“I can’t speak for everyone but for me, I can say that it [the changes] doesn’t really make a lot of difference,” Bumrah said in a press conference. “We all are here to help in however way we can, and I think that’s the way all the players are responding to the changes that are happening as well.
“Everybody is respectful, and they understand how the processes are going. Change is the only constant. I don’t think anybody is facing a problem or is in a weird space with the changes that are happening. Everybody understands the changes, everybody has played enough cricket to understand that this is the way the game goes and this is how you have to move forward. So everyone in the team is quite positive and quite eager to contribute and go about the changes.”
Kohli announced his decision to step down from Test captaincy after the Cape Town Test. He may not be the captain anymore, but Bumrah said he would always be a leader and his role going forward would remain immense.
“He [Kohli] told us in a meeting [after the third Test] that he is stepping down from Test captaincy,” Bumrah said. “It’s a personal decision and we respect his decision. He knows how his body is reacting and what frame of mind he is in.
“As I’ve spoken before as well, he brings a lot of energy to the side. He will always be a leader in the group. His contribution has been immense and will always be immense going forward as well.”
“He has captained for such a long period of time, so his assistance and his knowledge of the game will always be used by us as a team. So even now, he’ll obviously add inputs and he’ll always give his suggestions. That’s very important for all our players and we all look up to him.”
Rohit Sharma has already been appointed India’s white-ball captain and is also a frontrunner for the job in Test cricket. Bumrah was asked if he harboured any captaincy ambitions.
“If given an opportunity, it will be an honour,” he said. “I don’t think any player would say no and I am no different. Be it a leadership group or any responsibility, I always look to contribute to the best of my abilities. I look at this situation in the same manner, not to take any extra pressure that I would have to be over-cautious. Yes, taking responsibility, talking to a lot of players, trying to help them out in the best way possible has always been my approach and will be my approach going forward in any situation that comes.”
As the vice-captain for the series, Bumrah has not been assigned any specific responsibility but he agreed his role in the side is changing.
“When I was new, I used to ask a lot of questions to seniors. Now I am in a transition phase and when youngsters ask me something, I try to share my experience with them. Sometimes their inputs can help me as well. We try to make sure such communication is always there in the team because sometimes someone new can have some observation from outside which you cannot have from inside.”
Hemant Brar is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo