The more you study the Indian cricket administration, the lesser sense it seems to make and is sometimes totally devoid of logic.
Take the case of the current captain MS Dhoni.
After the 2007 T20 World Cup success, Dhoni has led India to three consecutive World Cup failures. In between, our T20 performances have been patchy at best. Most of the times, India has languished at the bottom the T20 table.
There is no doubt that Dhoni should be removed from the T20 captaincy and a much younger player should take over, such is the nature of the game. Dhoni himself was chosen over the troika of Sachin Tendulkar-Rahul Dravid-VVS Laxman in 2007.
Another thing against Dhoni is his role as a T20 batsman. Despite being an explosive hitter otherwise, Dhoni is generally sedate in international T20s. Dhoni has a career strike rate of 111, which is among the lowest in senior T20 batsmen. That means if everyone played at the rate of Dhoni, then India would average a mere 132 runs in 20 overs every time they played.
To put it in further perspective, at least 50 players have a career strike rate of more than 130 in the world!
It is safe to say that Dhoni can be retired from international T20s.
His second shortcoming has been his Test captaincy. A 0-4 thrashing almost always leads to a sacking. A captain having the confidence of the cricket establishment despite a 0-8 overseas record is unheard of in today’s competitive age. Another big blot is India failing to win at home against England, a team that was on the decline before the tour started.
However if there is one zone where Dhoni is virtually untouchable, it is the ODI scene. He has scored close to 7000 runs at an average of 51.2. In our worst period, since the debacle of 0-4 in England, Dhoni has scored runs at an average of 78.1! What more can a captain do when all the batsmen in his team are failing?
But instead of sacking him as Test and T20 captain, former selector Mohinder Amarnath has announced that the selection committee had decided to sack Dhoni in the ODI tri-series in Australia, a totally unbalanced move.
The BCCI had every right to step in and prevent their ODI World Cup winning captain from being sacked.
Then, Amarnath talks about the fact that Dhoni does not merit a place in the Test side, a belief that is held by many cricket fans of late.
Let’s study that a bit. If you look at the Tests played including the England debacle, then one finds that Dhoni has the highest batting average amongst the old guard. From England 2011 to the beginning of the last Nagpur Test, here are the averages of our senior batsmen: Dhoni (34.8), Virender Sehwag (33.3), Tendulkar (32.8) and Gautam Gambhir (27.8). So in a fair move, one could easily drop Tendulkar and Gambhir from the team.
As a Test wicketkeeper, he has effected 232 dismissals in 72 matches, which is the highest by any Indian. He is also averaging more than 3 dismissals per match, which is par for the course for the world’s best.
From England 2011 onwards, Dhoni has effected 51 dismissals in 16 matches, so his form as wicketkeeper has also not gone down during this period.
There is no doubt about it that Dhoni keeps his place in the team by virtue of being a decent wicketkeeper batsman.
It is quite strange that when Dhoni should have been sacked as T20 and Test captain, the selection committee recommended that he be removed from the ODI captaincy instead.
It is quite strange that when Dhoni does not merit a place in the international T20 squad, it is being recommended that he be removed from the Test team instead.
In fact, the selectors have already missed the bus.
When the New Zealand Test series was about to begin, they should have made Virat Kohli the Test captain.
That would have been a soft launch to his captaincy career and he would have given a fresh approach to the current England tour and we would have known whether he had it in him to be a Test captain in the long run. Instead, now Kohli’s very place in the team is insecure and the selectors may again use the TINA factor to continue backing Dhoni.
In terms of a batting analogy, hit wicket seems to be the BCCI’s favourite mode of dismissal!
The author is a Bengaluru-based journalist and blogger.
He blogs at http://sunilrajguru.com/