Bye Bye MS Dhoni (Legend)

Following on from the poor showing in Australia, MS Dhoni has decided to call it time on his test match career. This was something that was on the cards (read my article after the 2nd test finished). India’s most successful captain will continue in ODI cricket where he will look to defend the world cup. It would not surprise me if he called it quits totally after that is up.

Unfortunately his test career slightly fizzled out, I am not certain that his heart was in playing on at test level for a while now. This seemed to come across in the way he was playing. That apart he has been a phenomenal player for India in test cricket. As mentioned above his record for India makes him their best test match skipper. His combined test and ODI record would also see him in the top 10 captains of all time. The icc rankings (taken from the icc website) puts him at number 3 in this list. Read my blog from 2012 here questioning why Dhoni was so hated.

All this is not bad for a player who many said is not cut out for test cricket. Six centuries and many more fifties later he is having the last laugh. I remember a few of those hundreds, in particular the magnificant 148 he scored against Pakistan in only his second test series. Or the match winning 224 scored with SIX sixes and TWENTY FOUR fours against Australia.

He also holds the record for most dismissals by an Indian, the third highest all-time runs scored by a wicketkeeper and the only Indian to captain a test side to four consecutive test wins. I will also remember him for his calm persona as well as being one of the last fair players. Calling back Ian Bell when the Englishman was clearly being stupid was one such example.

Under his stewardship India reached number 1 in test cricket as well as thrashing most teams at home. Where he will be questioned is the performance of the side away from India. The double whooping by England and Australia and defeats to South Africa and New Zealand away is something that may stick to his name. But lets forget that and remember the good things.

MS Dhoni leaves Indian test cricket in a good place, with Kohli at the helm with lots of exciting younger players the times will be good. Good luck to Virat Kohli who has big big boots to fill. Thanks for the memories Captain Cool.

England v India – My Thoughts

Following a sports team can bring many highs as well as many lows. Especially if that team is the Indian cricket team. I can’t quite bring my self to understand what happened in the test & ODI series, but be sure we won’t be hearing the last of these problems for both sides.

Where to start with India’s problems? The same old problems of a test series abroad still haunt Indian cricket. On paper India should have performed far better than they did in the test series. The only players who can take any consolation from the series are Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Murali Vijay, Ajinke Rahane and MS Dhoni at a push (a big push).

Talking of Dhoni, he did well in patches with the bat but not to the level we expect from him. He seems to be playing within himself. His captaincy was at times to safe in the test series. India started the series very well, with a battling performance on that flat pitch at Trent Bridge, and a great win at Lords. But after that game we saw the same Indian performance that we got in the UK last time around, albeit with different players.

I have said it for a while now but India have a great bowling attack to compliment the star studied batting. Bhuvneshwar Kumar is looking more and more like a young James Anderson, while Sami and Ishant scared the English with their pace. Shame Ishant Sharma got injured after Lords, his injury made a difference. Punkaj Signh tried very hard but wasn’t really up to the standard.

There were two other talking points for India to think about in the test series. The first being the situation between Jadeja and Anderson. This odd little saga, seemed to take the stuffing out of India. For some reason the accuser (Jadeja) was found guilty of his offence, while the accused (Anderson) was not tried at all for another two weeks. What’s more is that Anderson was let off scot free forcing the ICC to re-asses the Jadeja charges also.

There has been lots of talk that Dhoni and his players felt let down by the coach and board not supporting them. Since the Anderson hearing India seemed like a team who didn’t care. I would like to clarify that both players were found innocent, but have you ever seen MS Dhoni so animated, ever? “Captain Cool” got angry, definitely one of the most sporting players around currently. For this reason I know what speculation I should believe. I also believe that Jimmy Anderson is a great bowler but on the field he seems to cross any sporting line constantly.

India bounced back well in the ODI series with Raina even adapting to lots and lots of short pitch bowling. One big disappointment was Virat Kohli, we need him to come good.

England’s main problem is Alistair Cook. He had a poor test series, not reaching three figures once. He was called out by many pundits as being tactically out of his depth as captain also. In many ways India’s shockingly bad batting in the last few test matches has prolonged Cook’s captaincy.

The England selectors now have a massive headache in the selection for the World Cup and Sri Lanka tour before that. Cook is still the ODI captain, yet 99% of people that know anything about cricket know that Alistair Cook does not merit a place in the ODI side.

A special mention needs to go out to Moin Ali, England seem to have found a rough diamond there.

Questions to answer:
Should Dhoni step down a test captain to concentrate on limited overs captaincy?

Should India replace Duncan Fletcher?

Should England pursue with Cook in ODI cricket?

Who are the next captains for both sides?

 

Who is the best wicket keeper batsman in the world?

Since Adam Gilchrist the role of a wicketkeeper has changed. The trend in international cricket is that the wicketkeeper should be an extra batsman. This almost compensates sides who do not have a genuine bowling/batting allrounder.

There are plenty of examples in cricket where a wicketkeeper has been picked over another on batting abilities, pre Gilchrist as well as after. One such example could be picking Alec Stewart over Jack Russell or even the fact that James Foster (by far the best English wicketkeeper) does not get a look in.

The next generation of international wicket keepers looks interesting, seeing as they are the first real generation to have grown up with Gilchrist/Boucher. Many of these players are showing potential to play in a very similar style. England have Bairstow and Butler in the wings, South Africa have a very exciting prospect in Quinton De Kock (who is a carbon copy of Gilchrist) and India have Sanju Sampson.

Currently in international cricket it seems that every team has gone for a batsman who can also keep wicket. Some of these names include Dhoni, Sangakara, Haddin, McCullum, Prior and De Villiers. Many of these players seem to have developed their keeping skills once in the role. A good example of this is Dhoni and De Villiers. Both were not the greatest wicketkeepers when they started but have developed good skills as they have gone along.

Over the last three years Matt Prior has developed into one of England’s most important players with the bat, he has saved England almost every time they were in trouble over this period. His aggressive batting always puts bowlers under pressure. If you watch Sky Sports coverage of England matches they constantly call him out as to being the best. I personally do not agree that he is the best but think he is up there. A reason I believe he has done so well is that England’s lower order is a good batting unit. His actual wicket keeping is sound, but he has recently shown a drop in this form also. He is more a player who knows his roles and abilities inside out.

M.S Dhoni, Brendon McCullum and Kumar Sangakara are all probably considered as better batsman than keepers, for differing reasons. Sangakara probably was the best all round wicketkeeper after Gilchrist had retired. But in recent years he has slowly given up his role behind the stumps, it seems age and injuries have caught up with him, meaning he cant be the top of the list anymore.

McCullum is up there for best wicketkeeper batsman in T20 cricket, but is far behind the others in all other formats of the game. Like Sangakara he is slowly giving up his keeping duties and should rightly concentrate on his batting. I would rank Kamran Akmal with similar attributes as McCullum. His wicket keeping lacks real quality to be considered in any list of top keepers but his batting is good in T20 and ODI cricket.

Dhoni currently is the best batman keeper, he is suited to batting in al forms of the game and has shown he is apt at batting in any of the main batting positions. He is still good and has improved his keeping so much but still falls slightly short of Haddin in terms of wicketkeeping. He is the perfect keeper for India, especially in ODI chases. Making him my choice for ODI wicketkeeper.

The South African captain AB Devilliers had a big job on his hands replacing Mark Boucher, after his eye injury forced him to retire. The transition does not seem to have affected Devilliers that much. He has shown his ability to stand up to the stumps against the quickest of bowlers as well as great agility. He has international experience solely as a batsman, and bats in the top three in limited overs cricket. He is near the top of the batting tables also. I would choose De Villiers as my T20 wicketkeeper.

I would consider Brad Haddin the best keeper in the list, although if De Villiars keeps improving then he could take this mantle one day. The Aussie keeper is also very agile in the field and is currently on great form. He has shown he is capable of bating at the top of the order in T20 cricket and ODI cricket. His batting and keeping is slightly better than Prior, the most similar of wicketkeepers currently. In test cricket Haddin has shown his capability to turn a poor score into a good one. Very similar to prior in the fact that he has a long tail to bat with. The only difference is that Haddin can build innings aswell as play the aggressive role. My choice for the test role.

My Choice:

T20 = De Villiers

ODI = Dhoni

Test = Haddin

Why Dhoni has no leg to stand on without DRS

Those who were watching the match today will have seen Dhoni arguing with Aleem Dar over a decision to give to give Nick Compton not out for LBW. The fact that India are against the DRS system means that India should not have the right to appeal. 

The actual decision was later proved to be a good decision, as the ball was going on to miss the stumps. I do not have a problem with the way the appeal was conducted, even thou some may think this was excessive. My main problem is that India are against the decision review system, but still want the right to appeal to an umpire after he has made his choice. 

The fact that Dhoni vigorously was pointing his finger at Aleem Dar today smacks of unsportsmanlike behaviour. I am a massive fan of Dhoni who I regard as the best ever captain of India, but he really should get a good telling off for his actions today. The fact that there is technology in place which can clear up decisions is a good thing, it is what separates cricket from football. The longer India take to adpot this system the more it will result in costly decisions as well as these football style rants on the umpire.

We still do not know the reason why the BCCI and Indian cricketers have refused to use the system in their matches, despite all the other teams in the world using it successfully.

As Sky Sports are giving the alternate Indian commentary I had been switching between both commentaries to gauge the differences in opinion. It was laughable the positions that they took. The English commentators were saying that India are gutted because they don’t adopt DRS this means that bad decisions should cost them, and India should not complain (does this mean the England players can? as they are in favour). The Indian commentators were saying that India are well within their rights to complain. All this proves is that all commentators are pretty biased depending on what country they are from.  

The system seems to make it fairer for both teams, if Dhoni really believed that Aleem Dar made an incorrect decision then he could have referred it. I hope this is the last straw for Dhoni who will now accept the DRS system. 

On the pitch India seemed pretty dominating, but there are signs of a slight England comeback. After Compton hit a four, sweeping Ojha it seemed to lift him and Cook. India then slowly started pushing fielders back, meaning it got a little easier for England who still trail. I still think India can push a win, but England will look for a much better batting performance to pull off an unlikely draw. 

Why is Dhoni so hated?

Over the last few months I have noticed on twitter and on various blogs that many people dislike Dhoni. These comments surface particularly when India lose, it seems if they lose its his fault. If they win its down to having a strong team, I am not sure how this works. On Tuesday night there were many comments on my twitter feed stating things like “Dhoni should be dropped,” “Yuvraj had cancer and was out for a year and he still plays better than Dhoni has all year.”
 
So I typed in Dhoni as a search term in twitter and it took my every person mentioning him, people wanted him dropped for not picking Harbhajan, and for not batting faster. I got the feeling that many people hate Dhoni. 
 
My personal opinion is that Dhoni is a big match player, who has a great ability to delivery when it matters. His innings in the world cup final should be remembered, where he had the weight of a billion people on his shoulders, yet he looked and played calmly. He knows how to chase down pretty much any score and will play according to the game, yes like any person he got it wrong in the T20 v New Zealand, everyone is due a mistake. His mistakes are normally when it does not matter as much. 
 
An argument I have heard a lot is that he has poor batting technique and is lucky he got a chance as a wicket-keeper even though his keeping is not great. Probably one of the most unorthodox batsman ever to have played, this is his style, which he has been highly successful doing. When he first came to the team he was purely a big hitter, he know has shown the other side of the game proving him well in test cricket also. 
 
 
Runs
Average
100’s
Catches
Stumping’s
Test
3692
38.45
(5)
194
30
ODI
6908
51.12
(7)
199
66
T20
587
30.89
(0)
15
5
 
 
In my eyes if he was not a good batsman he would not have been so successful at all levels of the game, his stats as keeper are not that bad either. 
 
I have also heard an argument that he killed off other great players career. Again if this was true would Ganguly or any of the other players have told us by now? There was a dispute between Chappell and Ganguly, but have you ever heard Ganguly implicate Dhoni? Further to this it is in the best interests of Indian cricket if slowly the older players are fazed out before their own legacy is ruined. It has also benefited the younger players, as it has given Kohli and Pujara a chance in the team. 
 
The last and main argument to beat Dhoni with is that he is not a good captain and that he is lucky at best. This has to be the most nonsensical argument I have ever heard. You can be lucky may be with one trophy, but to win the amount he has cannot be down to luck only. Maybe he has an element of luck about him, in that he has good players, but mostly it is said that you make your own luck. So far in his captain-ship he has won the World Cup, World T20 and guided India to no1 in the test rankings (albeit very briefly).  
 
Added to this as captain of CSK his IPL team he has guided them to 5 out of 5 semi finals, 4 times into the final and winning it on 2 occasions. This my friends does not seem like luck to me. Finally lets compare his stats to other Indian captains:
 
Test Match Captains:
 
Captain
Games as Captain
No of Games won
Win %
Dhoni
39
19
48.7
Ganguly
49
21
42.9
Azharuddin
47
14
29.8
Gavaskar
47
9
19.1
Kapil Dev
34
4
11.8
 
Dhoni has the highest win ratio out of any of his predecessors, undoubtedly Ganguly has been a great captain also but Dhoni could surpass him. Do not forget that this win ratio is still the highest despite India not winning a match in the last two away series, which is amazing.
 
ODI:
 
Captain
Games as Captain
No of Games won
Win %
Azharuddin
174
90
54
Ganguly
146
76
54
Dhoni
127
73
63
Dravid
79
42
53
Kapil Dev
74
39
54
 
Again Dhoni has the highest win% here but this is likely to decrease a little if he plays as many games as Azharuddin. It would take quite a few losses for him to end up with a lower win ratio than either Azharuddin or Ganguly. 
 
T20:
 
Captain
Games as Captain
No of Games Won
Win%
Dhoni
32
14
44
Raina
3
3
100
Sehwag
1
1
100
 
The stats of Sehwag and Raina should not be considered as they have played less than 10 games. Dhoni does not have a bad record here either just a bit less than half wins. There is always a chance for him to improve in all 3 formats.
 
I am not saying that he should be considered the best ever player or anything like that, but I believe he should be respected for what he has achieved. Undoubtably one of the best captains India has had. For me it would be a disaster if he decided to leave. If you are one of those people who dislike him so much please let me know why by leaving a comment. I would be greatly interested to know anything which I am missing.