Wednesday, 12 December 2012

The Fallen Warrior...?

Other than during the dark days of match fixing, there probably has never been harder times in Indian cricket than what they are currently facing. A side in transition after the retirement of two legends of cricket is never going to be easy, and as the results have shown, it hasn't gone too smoothly for India.

Against top teams, India have sunk to depths never seen before. Even during the 90s when India were poor travellers they were a force to consider at home. In the previous decade, they did well to remove the tag of tigers at home and lambs overseas, but recent results have erased out all the hardwork done.

When the team is not doing well, there will always be loud talk about who must be dropped and who must be selected. Though it is necessary to bring in changes considering the results in the past one year, change for the sake of changing is never a good option. India must realize, the side is going through a period where there will be instability as it won't be easy to replace Dravid, Laxman and in the near future Tendulkar. Chopping and changing players regularly will not help. It is very important that the youngsters coming in are given a fair chance. We have to realize that in order to become as good as some of the greats, they have to be given opportunites to fail and learn from their experiences. Laxman was pushed up and down the order initially but he was persisted with. Had he been dropped after some of the initial failures he had, world cricket would not be able to cherish such a charismatic stroke player!

One of the things which has come out very strongly during this debacle, is MS Dhoni's place in the test team being questioned. I find it quite bizzare that, when the entire top 6 is going through a bad patch, why question the number seven batsman only? Yes Dhoni hasn't been amongst the runs lately, but the replacement captain who the former chairman of selectors Mohinder Amarnath is considering hasn't been amongst the runs for the past three years!

Innings Runs Average 50s/100s
MS Dhoni 114 3784 37.46 27/05
Other Indian Keepers(From 1992-2012) 178 3530 22.7 15/3
Table Showing Runs scored by Dhoni and remaining other wicket keepers in Test Matches during the last 20 years
As we can see from the above stat how well Dhoni has done in comparison to other Indian keepers over the past 20 years. One of the points raised against Dhoni in Test matches is that he hasn't played match winning knocks like how Gilchrist did for Australia. But looking at the stats of wicketkeepers over the past decade (minimum runs scored as 1000), Dhoni has not only scored the maximum number of runs over this period, he is the third highest averaged batsman during the period. Dhoni hasn't played a single big defining knock in Tests, but he has played a lot of decisive 50s during the period. Unfortunately in India we are satisfied only if a batsman hits a 100.

Player Matches Inns Runs HS Ave
MJ Prior(Eng) 61 91 3269 131* 43.01
AC Gilchrist (Aus) 59 85 3136 162 41.81
MS Dhoni (India) 72 114 3784 148 37.46
BJ Haddin (Aus) 43 71 2257 169 35.82
KC Sangakkara (SL) 25 44 1510 185 35.11
Table Showing Highest averages by wicket keepers in Test matches during the period Dec-2002 to Dec 2012 (minimum 1000 runs scored)

When it comes to runs scored in victories, Dhoni is only behind Gilchrist during this period. It is no coincidence that India's best period came when Dhoni the batsman was contributing. With the rate at which he scores, he often gave the bowlers a few extra overs to get the opposition out.

Ideally, a 8-0 loss is good enough to end a captaincy career. But given the amount of success Dhoni had prior, it was natural that he was given a chance to redeem himself. Unfrotunately for the selectors, the senior members next in line Gambhir and Sehwag are woefully out of form themselves. The only way out here is to give Dhoni a chance to bring back the lost glory or give a young player an opportunity to rebuild the side in a similar way Grame Smith was trusted upon the captaincy at a very young age, thereby relieving Dhoni of the burden from captaincy and let him concentrate on contributing as a player.

Dropping Dhoni from the team at this stage would be a complete blunder. He has set the standards so high himself, that we expect another player to ease into his place easily. For all his contributions to Indian cricket, he deserves to be given a chance to make a strong come back. You never know the value of what you have till you loose it. Growth for the sake of growth is the philosophy of a cancer cell.

Rohit Ramachandran PoduvalAbout Rohit Ramachandran Poduval
A Classical Leg Spinner, Writer and Software Engineer. Please feel free to add my to your circles. Connect with me on Twitter and Facebook


Ravindranathan said...

Rohit, I like your analytical approach to an issue bothering all cricket lovers, though I am not one of them, particualarly when the team is losing!


thecricketdiary said...

Superb post Rohit.

"Yes Dhoni hasn't been amongst the runs lately, but the replacement captain who the former chairman of selectors Mohinder Amarnath is considering hasn't been amongst the runs for the past three years!"

I think you are talking about Gambhir here, but the selectors would not go to someone who is in a bad patch. They are probably looking at a long-term option, like Virat Kohli.

My decision would be make Kohli the captain, but let Dhoni keep and be in the team. That way there would be less pressure on him as just keeper/batsman, but also more pressure to score runs or being dropped. It would make a huge difference.

Sai Ram

rohitrp2003 said...

Thanks Sai for your reply. I dont know if Kohli should be made captain of the test team immediately. He seems to get bothered easily by whats happening around him like we saw in Australia. If hes made captain he will not only have to deal with the players, but he will have to deal with the media as well. Dealing with senior players like Sehwag Gambhir will be an issue as well I feel. Personally I think, Kohli should start of captaining the T20 team.

The Cricket Diary said...

Good point. We'll have to wait and see what the selectors do. Maybe the upcoming India vs Australia series will be a do-or-die for MS Dhoni as captain, in Tests at least. Fletcher too knows his career as coach is on the line.

Sandeep Patil has, I feel, the earnestness and belief that can take India far and back to the no.1 spot in Tests. Dropping Zak, Yuvi & Bhajji for Tests & Viru for T20s, he has made a statement. But the decisions that he and his men take will be vital in the future.

rohitrp2003 said...

Yes, India Aus might be a do or die series for Dhoni the captain. Dropping Zak showed that they are not afraid of taking hard decisions. But they seem to make some weird decisions as well like bringing in an out of form Chawla. By making kohli the captain during these tough times, we might end up losing runs from his bat. Lets hope for the best!!

rohitrp2003 said...

Thank you ammama :)

Birbahadur said...

There is no doubt about Dhoni. He is one of the finest wicket keeper batsmand and captain cool.He deserves all the  encouragement and should be continued in all formats of the game.There is no substitute for him for another 3 years.You assessment of Dhoni is great.

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