Hello and welcome once again to DRS where I, in a freewheeling manner, talk about issues relating to the world of cricket. And what would cricket be without controversies?
The latest of course, being reports of a rift in the team. Between Mahendra Singh Dhoni on the one side and seniors, or the so-called seniors of the team, on the other. I thought I would focus today on the personality of Mahendra Singh Dhoni linked to the controversy that's been brewing.
Dhoni, according to me, is one of the few Indian captains who speaks like he bats. With a certain sense of aggression, he is in your face. What you see is what you get with him. Whether he is batting on the field, whether he is captaining the side or whether he is talking to the media. Now Dhoni, in a rather typically direct way, said that the rotation policy which involves rotating the seniors of the team has come about because you cannot have so many over-30s fielding on large Australian grounds. It might affect the quality of fielding. I think he was being what he has always been as captain, brutally frank.
The fact is that in Australia fielding makes a huge difference in ODIs. In particular, the 20, 30 or 40 runs which you can save by having a brilliant fielding side can be the difference between victory and defeat. Typically, that statement has been interpreted as a sign that Dhoni wants Tendulkar and Sehwag to quit the side. I don’t think Dhoni said that.
All that Dhoni was saying was that that we need to have a judicious blend of youth and experience. What's wrong with that? Why are we so touchy every time any suggestion is made that might improve the state of Indian cricket but maybe at the expense of a few individuals?
Somewhere we have to start to realise that cricket, at the end of the day, is a team game. Australia showed that. Ricky Ponting failed in five matches. The great Ricky Ponting who many suggest is the best batsman since Don Bradman. He has been dropped! I am not suggesting that Sachin Tendulkar should be dropped or Virender Sehwag should be dropped. But if by resting them or rotating them you are giving more youngsters a chance looking ahead to the 2015 World Cup. What's wrong with that? Why see that as a sign of a tug of war in Team India?
And even if there is a tug of war, then let the selectors and the board be transparent about it, where they want to take Indian cricket. Are we building an Indian cricket team for 2015 or are we looking at only this particular tri-series?
My own sense is that whatever has happened should have happened after this tri-series was over - all these comments, all these frictions. When a team is on the field of play, it needs harmony, and that harmony is missing. Maybe that's the one mistake possibly that Dhoni made. Maybe he should have explained his position after the tri-series was over. The problem is that we have a selection system and a board which believes in opaqueness, which does not talk. And therefore it appears that it is trying to fire off the captain's back, which is extremely unfortunate.
I have enormous respect for Mahendra Singh Dhoni, the captain and the human being. And I think we all admire our seniors. They have contributed enormously to the Indian cricket. We still have a chance of reaching the final of the tri-series. This is a moment for the team to come together and for you and me - the fans of the Indian cricket - to rally behind Team India.