Wellington: Mahendra Singh Dhoni's wicket-keeping skills in the Test format has came under scrutiny yet again with former New Zealand captain Martin Crowe saying that the Indian gloveman has become a mere "stopper" due to burnout and attrition.
"Much has been said and written about the decline in MS Dhoni's wicketkeeping. In truth, due to the unrelenting schedule, he has become merely a stopper," Crowe said in his column in 'ESPNcricinfo'.
"In this latest quite bizarre Test series between India and England, we saw both teams fluctuate, and when they did the gloveman had much to do with it. It is this lack of energy behind the stumps that kills the tick tock of the fielding side and bowling attack. With no central figure and energy to work off, India grind to a halt," he added.
Crowe argued that Dhoni should be given a well-earned break in Tests for he plays more than any player in the game.
"It has now caught up with him, and India can't breathe in the field over long Test match days while a tired mind and ageing body rules the roost," Crowe said.
"He will do well to be ready for the defence of the World Cup, if he carries on playing as much as he does," he said.
Citing the case of England's Jos Buttler's inclusion in the team that brought vibrancy to the side in the Tests against India, Crowe said, "It is simply the effect of new, fearless energy, a fresh perspective, a youthful face and body, and someone different to aim at.
"Think of Alec Bedser and Godfrey Evans, Derek Underwood and Alan Knott, Dennis Lillee and Rod Marsh, Shane Warne and Ian Healy, Richard Hadlee and Ian Smith, Malcolm Marshall and Jeff Dujon, Shaun Pollock and Mark Boucher, to name just a few of the great combinations of all time. The champion bowlers swore by their masterful keeper," the New Zealander said.
"On the flip side, when the keeper was down, the whole team took a hit. Often teams rebuild around the wicketkeeper."
Contending that Buttler could provide the same spice to this rebuilding England camp, Crowe said Matt Prior did the English team a great service when he pulled out.
"It is these quirks of fate that can set a team back in motion," he said.
"Test wicketkeeping is an art and an engine room in one.
With precision and pump behind the stumps, anything is possible on the playing field," Crowe added.