Pressures of leading IPL team, young family could be behind Virat’s call: Steyn

The pressure that comes with leading an Indian Premier League (IPL) team and the fact that he has a young family could have played a big role in Virat Kohli deciding to quit as captain of Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) after the completion of this year’s edition of the lucrative tournament in Dubai, feels former South African pace spearhead Dale Steyn.

RCB announced late on Sunday that Kohli will step down as the captain of the team after the end of IPL 2021 season. The announcement was made through a video posted by the franchise on social media, three days after Kohli said that he will be quitting as India’s T20I captain after the men’s T20 World Cup in the UAE next month. Kohli will continue to be a part of the RCB squad.

“He’s been with RCB from the very beginning. I don’t know, as life goes on you start to prioritise things. He’s (Virat) got a young family right now and captaincy can weigh heavily on the brain, and your personal life can also heavily weigh on you,” said Steyn to T20 Time Out on espncricinfo on Monday.

Steyn, who retired from all forms of cricket late last month, added that, “Maybe, relinquishing a little bit of that responsibility (captaincy) and just being able to focus on his batting is a good decision at this time of his career.”

The former pace bowler said that nobody doubted Kohli’s captaincy, adding that he was a fantastic player and that his decision should be respected.

“We don’t doubt his captaincy. He is a fantastic leader and his personal achievements speak for themselves. So it’s really up to him as to what he wants to do so. Maybe it’s a good decision as the (T20) World Cup is round the corner. We could see the best of Virtat coming out in the remaining of the IPL (games) and the World Cup.”

Steyn also hinted that Kohli could have taken the decision on captaincy to pre-empt criticism if he doesn’t perform in the IPL.

“He may be trying to put out or extinguish some fires before they actually happen. Relinquishing the Indian captaincy, if he has 2-3 bad scores in the next couple of games in IPL, people might start questioning him whether he should give up the RCB captaincy. Before that comes into question, he may have decided ‘before we go down that road then you should say this is also part of my thinking’,” added Steyn.

On his statement declaring his commitment to RCB that he will continue to be their IPL player till he plays T20, Steyn said, “Doesn’t matter how good a player you are, you could see yourself walking (it’s the franchise owner’s call). I mean I’ve seen Chris Gayle leave the team but he’s not an Indian legend. We have also seen David Beckham leave Man United after playing for an entire lifespan and go and play for other teams. Cristiano Ronaldo recently returned to Man nited… so you don’t know…you have these famous people play for club teams for a long time. And, who knows Virat, who is originally from Delhi, might end up finishing with the Delhi franchise.

“But it’s nice to know he has committed himself to the club (RCB) and wants to be there to see the IPL trophy come to them. He has given so many years of effort… I think that could be at the back of his mind to that he is not going to leave there until he wins an IPL trophy.”