Dhoni Should Go

Posted: January 7, 2011 by The CouchExpert in India in South Africa 2010-11, Opinion

Prasad Moyarath


6 January 2011

“A captain is only as good as his team,” is a popular saying in the cricketing world and if this holds good, Mahendra Singh Dhoni should be the best Test captain in the world at the moment. No doubt, the Indian Test team has been doing well under his captaincy and has attained the no.1 ranking. Fighting back and winning Test matches abroad has become a habit for India, but still find satisfaction in drawing a series abroad and are not disappointed in not winning it. Indian team still gets worried about the green top wickets even though they boast of the best batting line-up in the world. Don’t you think that there is something missing in the overall performance of the best Test team?

Though India with Azharuddin as captain and Ajit Wadekar as coach won a lot of Test matches, those wins were never appreciated by critics as the majority of these wins were in India and on spinning pitches. It was Saurav Ganguly who changed the face of Indian cricket team with his aggressive captaincy. Those who switched off their TV sets after the exit of Sachin Tendulkar till then started watching the whole innings. Ganguly was a players’ captain and also a people’s captain. He stood for the players through thick and thin and instilled confidence in youngsters. Don’t forget that when Saurav Ganguly took over in 2000, Indian cricket was in dire straits after the match fixing controversy. That young Indian team has matured under the subsequent captains Dravid and Kumble. Now under Dhoni, the team is still winning due to the performances of the experienced players.

Any cricket fan following the development of Indian test team will notice that the performance graph of this team is not on a big ascent after the exit of Ganguly as captain. From a losing team abroad, India reached the level of drawing team abroad under Ganguly and now after a few years under Dhoni, the team is expected to be a winning team abroad. That has not happened and don’t seem to happen in the near future and that is when we look at the strategies and skills of a captain. No new strategies, poor man management skills and the team lacking killer instinct, Dhoni as a captain stands exposed after the South African Test series.

Attacking the opposition team verbally before a Test match is a common tactic used by Australia and South Africa and Dhoni played into their hands by criticising Sreesanth in public. Sreesanth’s good bowling in South Africa despite his captain’s public criticism shows his strength of character and not Dhoni’s man management skills. He forgot what Andre Nel and Allan Donald had done to Indian batsmen years back and found fault with Sreesanth. This was never expected from an experienced captain.

With South Africa in dire straits in the fourth day of the final Test, Dhoni had no back-up plan to counter Kallis and tail enders. The fact that the fielder who went to the boundary to fetch the ball after Kallis reverse swept Harbhajan never came back to his actual fielding position showed Dhoni’s lack of confidence. With Harbhajan bowling well from one end, any captain would have bowled a left arm seamer from the other end to help the off-spinner with the rough created by the left-arm seamer’s foot marks, but not Dhoni. He preferred to start the fourth day with Sreesanth.

Dhoni doesn’t seem to nurture talent like Ganguly. Abhimanyu Mithun, who bowled decently in the dead tracks in SriLanka was never selected to represent India again even though Dhoni had praised his performance. There is no doubt that Mithun would have bowled better than Ishant Sharma in the bouncy tracks in South Africa. Is Dhoni like Azharuddin, not having the back bone to fight for his favourite players with the selectors? If India was playing for a draw on the final day of the third test, why didn’t he send Pujara at No.3 after the fall of Sehwag? That would have given a big boost to the confidence of this youngster.

India is an ageing side and if they have to escape the phase that Australian team is going through now, BCCI has to take some bold steps. Dhoni doesn’t seem to have the skills to take India to the next level and we should not get fooled by the statistics. It is time to think beyond Mahendra Singh Dhoni as captain.

  1. goutham says:

    A bold article. But you also have to consider that the best team in the world today is never really going to be as good as Australia was. They were better by a huge margin. Either India, SA or England that might hold the top post over the next few years, none of them will be totally domineering.

    Captaincy is also making use of what you have on offer. Sometimes captains play the game of attrition and that’s how it is. Agreed that both India and SA were defensive when they got into good positions in the final Test, but both teams were operating with one strike bowler each and penetration otherwise was sporadic from the others. Sometimes we have to learn to accept teams for what they are capable of and expect them to improve over a period of time. Out progress over the last 10 years has been phenomenal. May be there is more to cheer there. We’d have been kidding ourselves if we’d have thought that we’d win a series back in 2001. As a matter of fact we know what happened back then!

  2. PS says:

    1. Its funny how its damn easy for everyone to make random statements seeing things far away on a TV. For some reason most players feel Dhoni is the captain to play for – which includes Muralidharan and Sachin, both of whom are legends and acknowledged in their own terms how they either felt the best playing with MSD or how this is the best indian team the legend has played for … but of course, how does the idea of active players matter, watching things on TV and making sense of random short time periods makes sense aint it?
    2. “Any Captain would have” .. another famours random statement with most bloggers, talkers, self appointed experts… anyways getting a fielder back to his position … WHY? changing dynamics of games require changing decisions on time… is that a problem or rule book of confident people say that go back to the position u were on even if that means nothing good is going to happen .. else you are meek?
    3. Cause Australia and SA sledge, does it make it the most potent weapon or style of doing things? Maybe you should try relating back to examples of people who showed how not giving it back in the same token but absolutely refusing to act equally stupid are usually adored .. be it in context or in practice – Jesus or Gandhi, to even Sachin and VVS … remarkably when you are foot strong in your position not to get unnerved by things like sledging, they tend to decline, and just the idea of respect keeps you a one mental count ahead of your opponents…. now when the team has finally reached a stage where its almost like a yogi’s meditation that people dont allow them to be nerved up, we have shreesanth … and even if he is good, if he can affect 10 other people, then he needs to be discarded.
    4. Ganguly vs. MSD – another pet favorite, and of course the retired and dead are always worth reveranding… what happened to the same people who were under ganguly, when they were under dravid? what happened to the new comers, the players … and what not? its pretty easy to say Ganguly left the team in a great state that we are here today … yeah? then why is Dravid still not leading the team ? Poor man management you say from Dhoni? it was far more worse with ganguly. Just because some one shows aggression doenst make him the greatest of all times…. there are other things that go in, which are more than just a bland eye view…. if someone like Sachin and Dravid Claim they re comfortable and Laxman looks like a senior player and not someone scared of losing his spot to Yuvaraj then there is a man called MSD, who knows how to handle a team!
    5. Grooming new comers… another poinbt you miss here there have been quite a few new comers .. the best part about dhoni is getting everybody in to the same fold…. not making them overrun their ability like ganguly and then burn out, but letting them all know they are pros and know their bests, now to get it on field… and not get them nervous like there was a litmus test somewhere! … .

    Just because a guy who is usaully calm , comes out and speaks about another person in his team, and in the right frame of things, does not call for opening a box full of tools and digs his flaws out. trust me, if this statement had been made by ganguly u would ve never cared much cuz he always had – ‘colorful statements’

  3. PS says:

    n BTW! … if you do look at the all winning Australia … the team always looked like they enjoyed their game more than playing it just for ego sakes… that was their key! and india cannot compete with that thanks to an overall socitial difference that we as people have – do what makes you happy and do it right vs. this is right do it, and make sure you better than the other! … this current squad under Dhoni, is probably thre happiest squad by yards and you can see that in their body language itself… get Gautam Gambhi captaining, and see how things will go back to the Ganguly days … where players were definately good, but we still reeked in a couple of great perfromances around which the team played rather than a collective team playing extremely well, and the couple of players making the best to provide an ample display of talent

  4. PS says:

    n of course – by thundering down on Shreesanth, it can also be seen as Dhoni still showing the strength of character by his accepting what is going wrong, and not be nerved or be scared about it … only with a non complex can you do this.. n of course we dont even know if it was a SA tactic – cuz Greame Smith’s reasoning didnt look like a scripted one, and Shreesanth known to be slapped by his own team mate is not a saint either!

    BTW prasad – please dnt think I have a problem with you, but i am surely tired of all bloggers and experts ready to take their daggers out or over the minute change their minds cuz some guy has become too popular or has spoken something that was not seen as a part of their character!

  5. Prasad Moyarath says:

    Thanks PS for the detailed comment. I don’t have any problem in anyone writing their comments on my write up. Blogs are meant for creating discussion and creating a healthy debate on the topic is the success of it.
    I agree Dhoni has his own style but in the recent past he don’t seem to inspire confidence or lead from the front. In the case of Sreesanth, he has made an unpardonable mistake of criticising Sree in public which is never expected from an experienced captain.

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