Former chief selectors want someone to speak with Dhoni about his future

Last Updated: Thu, Jul 18, 2019 14:55 hrs
ms dhoni walks back

India lost in the semi-final of the World Cup to New Zealand. While every Indian fan around the globe had hoped that Virat Kohli would hold the trophy at Lord's, fate clearly had other plans.

Now, the Indian players are on a break but very soon, they embark on another tour - this time to the West Indies for a full tour. For a set of officials though, the present time would feel anything but a vacation.

Led by MSK Prasad, the national selectors will sit down at the Cricket Centre in Mumbai to take a call on the players who will be travelling to the Caribbean for the month-long tour in August that will consist of 3 ODIs, 3 T20Is and a couple of Tests.

They not only have to decide about the careers of the tried and tested players like Kedar Jadhav and Dinesh Karthik but also of the fresh but injured player like Vijay Shankar.

Though, the toughest task Prasad’s team have in front of them is to take a call on former captain MS Dhoni. Ever since India got knocked out of the World Cup, Dhoni has been the dominating topic for debates. The situation is as unclear as the mind of the selectors right now. The question is - Can anyone among the selectors bring out the thoughts and future plans from Dhoni's mind and put it on a table?

"Well, you have to have the courage and conviction," Dilip Vengsarkar, the former India captain and chief selector told TOI.

"It's the job of the selectors to review performances and draw a roadmap for the future," added Vengsarkar, who is currently in England.

"You need to know who exactly are the players who fit into your Test pool, ODI pool and T20 pool. Track their performance, identify bench strength and create options. It's also important to keep the think-tank in the loop and seek their suggestions about the road ahead," He explained.

Vengsarkar was at the helm of affairs when India were sent back home from the 2007 World Cup after embarassing defeats in the league stages. Then, the former India captain did hesitate in taking a few harsh decisions, notably phasing out Sourav Ganguly and Rahul Dravid from ODIs. It can be said that those decisions did lay the foundation stone for India's victory at the World Cup in 2011.

Another former India player and chief selector Kiran More is looking at the next four years and feels preparations for the next World Cup have to begin right away.

"You know exactly how the current squad has performed. Now, you need to envision how they would be placed in another couple of years. Get backup players ready and give them enough chances to prove themselves," said More.

"However, you need to be careful and not create insecurity among players. When it comes to someone like Dhoni, you go and speak to him about his plans. You respect his decision and also convey to him what you feel is the way ahead for the team. Communication is very important," explained More, who was the chief selector between 2002 and 2006. It was during this phase that the Sourav Ganguly-Greg Chappell saga played out in the open.

Former players Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir have been blunt about what they think about Dhoni's future, with Sehwag telling a TV channel recently, "Dhoni can stay as a batsman and a keeper in the team. There is no player who can stay in the team only as a mentor and not perform. Selectors need to ask him about his plans."

Sehwag's clarity of thought cannot be found everywhere - just like his batting. In an ideal world, selectors are expected to display that kind of bluntness. But, when it comes to Indian cricket, it is not possible as players are treated bigger than the team and the game.

It is not an easy call. No one knows if Dhoni has been spoken to. Come selection day, it will be interesting to see what has been decided about Dhoni and his future with the Indian team.

Or, to put it in another way - What plans does Dhoni have in mind about his future with the national team.