July 27, 2008

My captain!

A minor glitch: After Anil Kumble, who?

M.S. Dhoni doesn’t play tests these days. Whether it is to avoid old mates Ganguly-Dravid, or catch his breath after getting on top, who knows.

Either way, it’s not just timely but a shrewd move as well. When you get away winning a World Cup with a team sans seniors, why not let the seniors lose some without you? Also, a series in Sri Lanka is a seven year itch, why scratch it? Gets only worse playing spinners you can’t read, on record or off the wicket.

Next, Virender Sehwag: he plays tests. No, he doesn’t play tests. Not like M.S. Dhoni. More like Brendon McCullum. Which is, the flesh is willing but the spirit is weak. So while Sehwag actually pads up and puts his whites on, you’d think he was a still in black Daredevil mode. Strike rates and starts courtesy Sehwag and Gambhir have been nothing short of T20ish both in one-dayers and now in tests. What are they thinking – gotta use the field restrictions – gotta use the first six overs. Six and out!

Gautam Gambhir: Just back to playing tests. Going by the widely accepted belief that he is in the form of his life, scoring big (30s and 40s) amongst test ruins, he could beat everyone to the hot seat. Stranger things have happened in Indian cricket. A hundred or even a few half centuries in this series would only push his case. Behold, Gautam the saviour will arrive!

Dinesh Karthik: Plays off and on, more off than on. Once proclaimed as captain material, his cricket is now largely immaterial. By a simple twist of fate had a chance to outdo MSD as a test bat and keeper, instead chopped the very branch he sat on, one drop after another, one shot after another. If persevered with in the second test, it may only prolong the pain. After the England tour, his demons emerged. And then multiplied.

Zaheer Khan: Plays when fit. Will make an animated captain – plenty of aggression, attitude, designer stubbles and misuse of the new ball. If unfit, will swear to return only when 100%.

Ishant Sharma: Flavour of the season. Even if his chances to captain are as remote as Dravid’s, what about tomorrow? Positives for Ishant - he doesn’t smile, frown or lose his cool easily. In a nation of cricketing icons, he is the latest. That helps. Needs to bowl a heavy ball at players other than Ponting. Needs a mentor. Someone other than Venkatesh Prasad. Preferably a quick.

Irfan Pathan: Flavour of the last season. Needs a mentor. One will do. He was an icon. And on some days he still is. On other days, he’s on a cricket holiday. Already made more comebacks than…himself! And thanks to limited overs cricket, will continue too. If he has one good series, even he could be captain. But first, he must be selected.

Harbhajan Singh: Flavour of all seasons. Plays tests because no other Indian spinner is given as much rope. If IPL misdemeanours are anything to go by, India will make the 12th man captain before Singh is King.

Sree Santh: Plays tests when fit. If IPL misdemeanours are anything to go by, India will make the 12th man captain before Sree is Nath.

VVS Laxman: These days, plays each test like it’s his last. Also, always the last man standing. The least controversial, but on scant IPL evidence also the least influential. But as in Kumble’s case, he too may become captain by default. First move: promote self up the order.

Rahul Dravid: Once India’s mainstay, now India’s main stray. Captaincy: He didn’t want it. He doesn’t want it. He won’t want it. But he may get it –over the board’s dead body. After losing captaincy, ODI spot, board’s favour and his marathon runs with the bat, he could be the first of the big four to lose all interest.

Saurav Ganguly: In the form of his life, but is that good enough? To sustain Saurav as skipper, first hire a time machine – arrive at a year when Dravid scored more runs and Sachin gave fewer interviews. If all else fails, don’t be surprised if he is made captain again. Plenty of lore to back him up!

Sachin Tendulkar: if the next captain succeeds, we will soon learn that his selection had been pushed by you know who. However, if Indian cricket plummets further depths, as does Tendulkar’s form, his iconic status may have to be rescued by a call to captaincy. This time, Sachin might just bite the bullet. Or ride one into the sunset.

A new player. One still on the fringes. But whose meteoric rise, boundless ability and canny makes MS Dhoni’s pale in comparison. Or is that just M.S. Dhoni’s second coming as a test player. Refreshed by a test team realigned to his needs. Raina, Rohit, and even Yuvraj walking alongside him - Men in white!

For the time being though, Anil Kumble is India’s captain. And even though his bowling analysis read: 37 overs-4 maidens- 121 runs-0 wickets, consider the vital catches dropped off his bowling. Pause at Jayawardene on 55. Had he not been dropped, what would the game have been? And what would we have said of India’s most successful bowler ever?

34 comments:

Q said...

Surely Dhoni. Cant be anyone else. I guess he will start playing tests once given the reins and then slowly and surely the big 4 sans Sachin will find their careers come to an end. He must be wary though - had it been Yuvraj, Raina, Sharma instead of Dravid, Laxman, and Ganguly it might have been India's worse defeat rather than 3rd worst...

Naked Cricket said...

i wonder when msd decided to pull outta the test series - during the asia cup, when he and kirsten slammed the schedules, or after the finals when lanka slammed them?
If it's the former, he'll go far as skipper, if the latter, best of luck India.

Even if it was the young bunch, the openers would've been the same. Wonder if Sehwag would've played any differently - seeing it's a test and all that? Guess the answers aren't too far away.

Q said...

The last time sehwag played a test match he got a 150 against Australia and he saved the game for India. You can't doubt a man who can do that.

Gambhir is coming bak to the test side after a long time. Give him some time, he's too talented not to adapt.

Sachin, Dravid, Ganguly, Laxman - u can never question these guys. There are no replacements.

Naked Cricket said...

re: sehwag, with great power (doesn't) come great responsibility.

imo sehwag can do even more. he is at the peak of his powers, while the srs' powers are on the wane.

Big scores by sehwag in lanka will help the board play sehwag vs dhoni n retain the divide in ind cricket. Sehwag next captain?
but a mediocre series will aid MSD's rise to test captaincy.

Akash Chopra (also from Delhi), opened with Sehwag for Ind vs Aus in tests in 03-04. He was effective, lotta occupation, dented the new ball, but no big scores. Appears Sehwag told him: Nobody remembers 50s, only 100s.

Sehwag and Gambhir will do well to remember these words.

It alreday cost Sehwag for a while. In spite of his 50+ avg. that's the double standard of ind cricket.

RS said...

Maybe Yuvraj will come back and become the captain like he wishes :-)

Regarding msd: you are right - and maybe he wants to get more support from BCCI or maybe he thought he won't get much credit if the team does well against M&M. And perhaps he judged that DK and Parthiv are no real threat to his position. Regardless msd is a clever man and the most viable alternative at this point.

UTP said...

I think Gambhir and Karthik have got some good heads on those shoulders...but I do wonder how they will make it happen...around so many stalwarts...but they have got the brains...over brawn...

dhoni would be the automatic I think considering trends...

Trideep said...

It will be MSD no doubt. Kumble will remain captain unless India lose the next two matches in a similar fashion.. Other than MSD, there is no one capable of captaining a side. We saw that during IPL.

vmminerva said...

That's a interesting question you pose, Gaurav. While Dhoni seems like the best option now, I feel there is no need to hurry. Give it a few years and we may have somebody more worthy whose place in the Test side is certain not on wicketkeeping skills alone. However, if we need another stop-gap, my pick will be Sehwag (over Laxman).

Naked Cricket said...

rs -stranger stuff has happened. Yuvraj as captain, well, for that, he'd need to single handedly smash Oz - before which, he'd need to be selected. Catch is perception and reality re YS is closing in - pyjama cricketer weary of spin. And then, Kapil pajji too has a go at him. Equity is down, in serious cricket at least, but what's that?

MSD is a very evolved cricketer. To me, the Laloo of cricket. That will make for a fun write, right!

Naked Cricket said...

utp - DK's been taken completely out of his comfort zone. He is now playing like someone else, has lost belief. Like Gambhir a while back; GC made this point abt him -that GG is an introvert, and can easily withdraw into his shell -so, needs to be treated likewise.
Suspect it's MSD's shadow on DK, a tad overwhelming.

Naked Cricket said...

Spot on Trideep. IPL showed and how. 3-0 and Kumble is gaaawn.
How I'd love to see Amit Mishra in there, with Kumble.
Bhajji should be a T20 Exclusive. and a test recluse.

Naked Cricket said...

vm - no need to hurry, but a need to worry. This team is no better than Pak on consistency, and Pak is in total disarray. What's our excuse?

But yeah, for tests, I'd think there has to be someone better from the outside - a natural selection, and a test leader. Ideally a player who can even eclipse MSD - a bowling allrounder. Imran Khan's grandson?

Ottayan said...

I humbly put forth the name of Sehwag.

Surely, his bald head indicates vekam and vivekam? (Speed & wisdom);)

Straight Point said...

no way sehwag OTT...not for this test performance of his...but the way he lead delhi daredevils...that was as unimaginative as one can get to put it mildly...

it is going to be dhoni...no doubts here...and i also don't have doubt that he will play far better when he will captain in tests i.e.

i have been highlighting this tendency of his for some time that he transforms into another player when he captains side...

Naked Cricket said...

ott - in that case you'll have to eat humble pie :)
it's a tricky one, if viru scores serious runs from here on, he may make it. but it'll have nuthin to do with captaincy - more as a counter for msd's surge. a purge, do we see one?

Naked Cricket said...

sp - think the board may open a third front, other than msd's boys and the old boys. viru gives them this option - along with GG, the delhi lads rock on top. If Amit Mishra makes it too, that's 3. but will bcci allow that - doubt it.

viru as skipper, next IPL perhaps.

Straight Point said...

all seniors are holding up their front/birth as reserved for life...specially in spin department coz they are faking it brilliantly...

when ak and hb bowled we were led to believe that pitch is the death bed of test cricket...and i dont see any change in forthcoming matches too...

they will make bradman ot of dilshan & co...and our batters are going to look at 500+ scores...repeatedly...

no escaping boss!!

RS said...

@nc msd - the laloo of cricket - no, no, not even msd is that good :-)

Naked Cricket said...

Lankans have always read AK well, Arvinda can walk out of retirement today, and still play him like it was '94 WC. Still, AK was unlucky in this test. Bhajji we're unlucky to have him play tests. Such a good T20 bowler.

He got Saqlained years ago - chk Qs links, his figures 7 years back, and now vs Lanka. What a slap on our face.

Straight Point said...

i did checked that earlier...

isn't it funny gaurav that they still call him turbunator?

i want to see what worse mishra / ojha can do...

Naked Cricket said...

rs - the lalu before the storm

Naked Cricket said...

sp -ohja 3rd test if ind goes down 2-0. Doubt they'll play five bowlers now.

Soulberry said...

Brilliant! Gaurav, you've said it all!

While Dhoni wanting to rest is a welcome expression, it's acceptance of in proper spirits, it is difficult to set aside the opening part of the article. I wouldn't be surprised if the history of Lankan tours and the weight of team's age weren't also weighing on MSD.

A wonderful article...take a bow.

Naked Cricket said...

cheers sb!
MSD-BCCI rapport could define the next few years of Ind cricket. Never since SRT has a player weilded so much influence.
and while i write this a mail pops in - sender MS Dhoni, subject let's change the obviious.

It's from Danik Bhaskar, spam, but still i open it.
It's an ad for DB - compelling B&W pic of Dhoni with a motely group of youngsters; Ad headline says: ZIDD KARO. DUNIYA BADLO.

A Bisht said...

All this rasies one question-Are players all over the world actually losing interest in this format of the game, more so after the advent of T20?
Otherwise why such a lack of resolve?

Naked Cricket said...

Cheers A Bisht!
For the weaker test teams like NZL, WI it's fashionable to blank out; for Pak, where do they play, other than India? Oz, SAF have their test heads screwed on - as do Lanka at home. And India every second test, everywhere.

Blame poor player skills for the decline. that and one-sided games.

On the other hand, even the Windies can win a T20 game vs Oz -esp if it's an 11 over encounter.

allpaddedup.com said...

Note: I haven't read the comments here, and i don't know, if this is already proposed.

Sehwag could captain India against WI,Zimbabwe.

Yuvraj could captain India against England,NZ,Bangladesh.

MSD can do the hard work against Australia, SA, SL and Pakistan

scorpicity said...

what a wonderful wonderful post my friend... As for Dhoni, I can only recollect a question posed to him when he was not the captain just before he was actually named, on the same old playing too much cricket and break for cricketers... he famously said something to the effect of anyone who is not prepared to play for the country anytime has to rethink his priorities.

Hmm... 8 months down the line, how things change... LOL... As for captaincy debate, he might have to be the one to lead after the sun if it ever goes down with the senior pros.

Naked Cricket said...

allpadded up - it may be sooner than we think, with the manic increase in rewarding new game-shows, for a player to extend his playing life, MSD's summer break may fast become the norm.
Aside: Didn't Yuvraj just luck out not being selected for Lanka

Naked Cricket said...

Cheers scorpi!
Now, when do you think the BCCI will use that against him. Tho trust MSD to have a kick ass counter to that too.

Soulberry said...

he famously said something to the effect of anyone who is not prepared to play for the country anytime has to rethink his priorities.
I recall this too Scorpi.

John said...

Gaurav,
Dont know how I missed this one. Brilliant post.

Naked Cricket said...

Cheers John! And thanks a bunch!

Naked Cricket said...

Hey guys,

here's an idea that came to me a few years back.

Initially, I wanted to pitch BCCI (Bored Cricket Crazy Indians)as a tv show about cricket and guys like us.

After posting a comment on soulberry's TCWJ today, it all came back to me.

And I shot it off as a blog -
http://boredcricketcrazyindians.blogspot.com/

I'd like all of you to write for BCCI - and see where we can take it.

i gotta feeling!

naked cricket