The lips of Rohit Sharma were pursed, and his brow was arched. He raised his hands in protest while seated cross-legged on a white sofa in the banquet room of the Gujarat Cricket Association Clubhouse. He said, “That’s not my job, sir. “It’s not my job to declare all of this,”
He had been questioned about the 2019 World Cup final outcome, which saw England win the trophy by outstriking New Zealand in the Super Over, four years too late. When the reporter in question questioned whether the teams should have been proclaimed joint champions, Rohit, maybe predictably, didn’t seem overly upset.
Babar Azam leaned forward on the opposite side of the stage and stifled a chuckle. Jos Buttler required a translation since he could see from the reaction of the assembled journalists that something amusing had happened. Babar, who was sitting next to him, provided it, and the two of them laughed together.
Temba Bavuma was sitting quietly two seats down from Rohit while other captains responded to queries. It appeared for a moment that he had dozed off, with his hands crossed across his lap and his head sunk. Later he explained on Twitter, saying, “I blame the camera angle, I wasn’t sleeping.”
Welcome to Captains’ Day, a panel discussion put on by the ICC the day before the 2023 World Cup and moderated by Ravi Shastri and Eoin Morgan. Eight of the 10 captains will travel directly to another site for their debut encounter, while six of them had already flown into Ahmedabad for a warm-up game on Tuesday night.
Even if this was just a fancy cover for a picture session, it was nevertheless a unique opportunity to observe ten international captains mingling and assessing one another in advance of a match that would define each of their careers as players and captains. There were moments of humor as well as awareness of the issues at hand.
When you represent your nation in a World Cup, there is naturally some pressure and expectation, according to Buttler. “People are interested, especially in this country where cricket is more highly regarded than anywhere else in the globe, which explains why the room is so filled. But you should embrace that since I am a fan of other sports and understand what it’s like to be a spectator.
Babar’s responsibility as Pakistan’s captain in India goes beyond sports and toward diplomacy; after all, he was speaking at a stadium with Narendra Modi’s name on it. When his crew arrived in Hyderabad, they were greeted with open arms. “The way the people are responding towards our team, everyone enjoyed it,” he remarked.
“Since we arrived in Hyderabad, the hospitality we experienced, the way people welcomed us at the airport and at the hotel, the atmosphere in the stadium, and the atmosphere at the last game, we liked it a lot.” Another hint to diplomacy follows, this time regarding Pakistani supporters’ difficulties obtaining visas to India: “It would have been great if we had supporters from our side. In every game and venue, we’ll try to win such support.
The pressure that comes with captaining India at home is unavoidable, not least since host countries have won three straight 50-over World Cups and India has gone more than ten years without winning a trophy in men’s ICC competitions. I am aware of what’s at risk, he declared.
“For us, it basically means clearing everything away right now and concentrating only on what we want to do as a team. Don’t worry about the expectations because they will always exist, don’t worry about the characters we are portraying, and don’t worry about the outside world. Now is the time for us to spend some time alone and concentrate on what we want to accomplish as a group.
In the upcoming days, he expects a surge of interest in the tournament. People become quite enthused about any major events that are planned for the county, Rohit added. “And given that cricket is the most popular sport in India, I’m not shocked by the people’s excitement… It is dispersed throughout the entire nation. Everywhere you walk, World Cup talk is prevalent.
The captains gathered for a group selfie following their 40-minute conversation before dispersing: Babar and Scott Edwards to Hyderabad; Hashmatullah Shahidi and Shakib Al Hasan to Dharamshala; Bavuma and Dasun Shanaka to Delhi; and Rohit and Pat Cummins to Chennai.
There is only one thing left for Buttler to do on Thursday afternoon: step out for the toss. He will be accompanied by Tom Latham, and Kane Williamson will be watching from the dressing room. The talking is finished, and the next 45 days will be dominated by cricket.