Indian Cricket: Of Captains, Complaints and Criticisms
Cook and Dhoni – two captains like two different sides of the cricketing coin. But where one’s heroics are waxing, respect for the one seems to be waning just as fast. Simply because one has proven himself to be a better captain – a leader, in the right sense – than the other.
The Indo-England series never started off as a comparison between captaincy skills. However the stark turnaround from the English side after their loss in the first test and India’s unexpectedly desolate performances hit at truths that not many wanted to acknowledge. Or even if they acknowledged it, weren’t ready to speak about it – at least, openly.
Many captains have graced the Indian cricket team, and each has brought a vivid flavour to the team in his time. Some assumed the role of a silent mentor, while some were aggressively encouraging. But there has never been anyone with the reputation of an autocrat. But that might not be the case for the future if Dhoni continues in the same vein. There’s merely a thin line that separates arrogance from confidence, a separator that Dhoni seems to have crossed more than once in the past couple of months.
But where this attitude might be accepted of various others, for someone who is regarded to be amongst the world’s best One-Day International captains, Dhoni’s captaincy attributes in the five-day venture leave a bad aftertaste – thus, piling captaincy comparison woes atop an already bleak test match statistical count.
For the moment though, comments about the Indian skipper seem to be silent. Yet, one wonders as to how long this silence will last. Till the series get completed, one way or the other, or till Dhoni does a repeat act of discussing his team-members in a negative light? So far in the series, there’s not a single player who has escaped the public scrutiny. Be it Pujara with his so-called likeness to Dravid or the innumerable voices that have been clamouring for Sachin to retire; there has been more action off the field for India, than on it. With regards to Dhoni however, even while his attitude about parading his teammates’ so-called inconsistencies has shown him to be in a poorer light, does that suffice as a justifiable reason to take him off as the captain? And if the reason is indeed justified, then does the Indian cricket team have a suitable replacement candidate?
A suitable candidate is someone who not only has a name for himself, but who can also lead the squad; most importantly, under these circumstances. As it is, the situation is chaotic, rumours and allegations are flying past, performances slipping and confidence levels at a new low. Calls for replacing captains in these times, then don’t really display self-assuredness but show the actual pandemonium reigning in the Indian drawing board.
And it is here where Dhoni needs to rise up and show his mettle. Answer the critics and the sceptics. Not by passing contemptuous remarks about his team or by transferring the blame to someone else, but by accepting the fact that while there is no dearth of talent in the Indian team, mistakes were indeed made while employing that available talent. Just as accepting and owning up to the fact that it was the team that had failed. Not the batsmen individually or the bowlers; but the entire unit, composed of 11 members, including his own self. And most necessarily, setting aside the zillion problems that he might have with the 10 other members of the team, just as the other 10 would be doing with his constraints and drawbacks for the greater good of the team.
No player is perfect, not even the captain himself. But where perfection isn’t expected at all times, evolution is a necessary requirement. Be it Ganguly, Dravid, or Dhoni, at the end of the day, it’s the nature of their evolution that has been, and will be, measured against their reasons for not evolving at all. As captains and thereby, as better team players, they need to lead from the forefront without losing their individuality in the process.