Stop the flogging, give Dhoni some rest

Last Updated: Thu, Oct 06, 2011 11:54 hrs

The past week or so has been one of player fatigue, the Harbhajan sacking, and of course, Dhoni's plummeting fortunes as a captain though I suspect it is just a stumble and he would yet bounce back, provided of course, he is given time out from the game, but which seems unlikely as the selectors would continue to flog him.

I think, there has been needless to-do over Harbhajan's omission from the opening two ODIs against England this month, for I am sure, he wouldn't mind a break, especially after the hectic Champions League in which he has led Mumbai Indians to the semis, at the time of writing. The fact is that Harbhajan hasn't been in the best of form which should be the selection criteria and not so much the reputation.

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It is a pity that the BCCI has put a gag on the selectors, for this has only led to undue speculation and whispers that often cast aspersions on the five wise men. Also, there is nothing unique about selectors differing in their views and using votes to get their way. Indian cricketing history is replete with such instances, like for example, the late Pataudi's sacking and Kapil Dev's one-match ouster.

The point is that the BCCI should allow the chairman of selectors, Srikkanth in the present instance, to field questions from the Media. There is far too much secrecy and often, selectors tend to speak off-record to their favourite contacts in the Media, spilling the beans. In the past, these selective leaks have caused more damage than good and yet, the BCCI in its wisdom prefers to put a lid on the selection meetings.

I doubt, it would be any different in the future given the fact that historically, the Board has remained brazenly unfazed by even well-meant criticism. It is anybody's guess whether our cricketing mandarins would ever change.

As for Dhoni, from what we saw of him in the Champions League where he led the Chennai Super Kings in their disastrous campaign, he is on his last legs. The body language points to a tired man who needs a month's break from the game. He was not his usual inspirational self during the CL and seemed to just go through the motions.

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Yet, despite these clear signs of fatigue, the selectors decided to pick Dhoni for the ODI series beginning next week. I am not sure for how long can Dhoni plod on without a break, but I pray that he won't break down totally. If a Tendulkar can be allowed to pick and choose his series, then why not Dhoni who, in fact, is a long-term prospect and hence need to be preserved?

The same could be said of Raina. Though he was his usual animated self on the field, there have been clear indications that he too is barely hanging on after, like Dhoni, having played virtually non-stop for nearly a year now.

Fortunately, both have been exempted from the Challenger tournament that precedes the ODI series next week. Since the selectors are incommunicado, we can only speculate whether these two players had requested a break and not given or opted to play. In any case, the flogging has to stop.

Whatever, Dhoni and Raina will have a week's break, courtesy Super Kings' early exit, before they head to Hyderabad for the first ODI on October 14. Hopefully, the Board has issued a dictate that neither be disturbed, and certainly not engage themselves in commercial activities like an ad shoot.

The Australian Board, for instance, has prohibited Shane Watson from bowling in the ongoing Champions League so as to preserve him for the series in South Africa later this month. It is to be hoped that the BCCI takes a leaf out of their Aussie counterpart and nurture players.

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