Why Sanju Samson was replaced as Kerala captain

Sanju Samson
Sanju Samson did not attend the preparatory camp in Wayanad. File photo: AFP

The Kerala Cricket Association (KCA) on Monday named Sachin Baby as captain for the upcoming Vijay Hazare Trophy One-Day Championship. Star batsman Sanju Samson had led Kerala in the recent Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy T20 Championship. Kerala, which pulled off three wins on the trot including stunning victories over Mumbai and Delhi, failed to progress to the knockout stage after losing to Andhra and Haryana.

Indian Premier League (IPL) side Rajasthan Royals also made Sanju captain ahead of the 2021 edition. The wicketkeeper-batsman replaced former Australian skipper Steve Smith at the helm. So it was a bit of a surprise when Sachin was handed over the reins of the 20-member team.

Thiruvananthapuram MP and avid cricket lover Shashi Tharoor had expressed his surprise at the choice in a tweet.

So what exactly prompted the KCA to go for Sachin? “Sanju did not attend the preparatory camp in Wayanad as he was busy with strength and conditioning programme. We expect him to be included in the Indian team for the forthcoming white-ball series against England. So we felt it was better to go for Sachin instead of having a captaincy change in the middle of the Hazare Trophy. Sachin is a proven captain too,” said KCA president Sajan Varghese. Kerala had made it to the Ranji Trophy quarterfinals and semifinals in 2017-18 and 2018-19 under Sachin.

The Hazare Trophy begins across six venues from February 20. Kerala are placed in Elite Group C and the matches will be held in Bengaluru.

The IPL player auction is slated for February 18 in Chennai. Sanju, being Royals captain, will be very much involved in the player signings and it too could have resulted in the selectors relieving him of the captaincy duty.

The five-match India-England T20I series begins on March 12, while the three-match ODI series starts on March 26. The selected players will have to enter the bio-secure bubble in advance due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

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