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India v England: Is The HMS Dhoni Sinking?

Less than a year ago, Mahendra Singh Dhoni was touted as the next Adam Gilchrist. Such proclamations were obviously made by the sensationalist and headline hungry media types that wouldn’t know the difference between fact and fiction if it hit them on the head. Although the comparison with Gilchrist is a little far-fetched, it does provide invaluable insight into the skill and temperament of the man. He must be doing something right to for people to think along these lines.

In spite of the oft lacking aggression he brings to Team India, coupled with his never-say-die attitude the cricketing world is abuzz with rumours about his place in the team. If Sachin Tendulkar continues to display the sort of form (vintage 1998) that we have witnessed throughout the last ODI series and the previous tour match, he and Dhoni will be the only two gentlemen capable of upping the ante and driving home an advantage, if and when it were to be achieved.

The majority of calls for Dhoni’s sacking have centered on a perceived “lack of form” and a need to bolster the middle order. I struggle to understand how Dhoni is out of form. Andrew Strauss was out of form, because he hadn’t played a decent know for over a year. It is imprudent to label Dhoni out of form simply because he did not play a major innings in the South African series (where everyone failed). He is a proven match winner and should be given every opportunity to do what he does best.

As far as the middle order is concerned, Indian cricket has long been caught in the trap of planning for failure, ie. “bolster the middle order because the top order fails” or “make the wicketkeeper open the batting because our tail is too long”. It is this class of utter rubbish that has impeded our progress away from home. Throw people in the deep end and they will learn to float. If they don’t, then they simply do not belong.

Additionally, the other option for wicketkeeper is the opening batsman (bad move in my books as there is a specialist twiddling his thumbs in the shed). From his days during the early part of Sourav Ganguly’s reign, Rahul Dravid would well realise the demands on a wicketkeeper who bats up the order. Being the sensible kid that we all know he is, it would be out of character for Dravid to ask Dinesh Karthik to keep wickets.

Mahendra Singh Dhoni is crucial to Team India’s success on this tour to England. Let’s not shoot ourselves in the foot by creating a weakness we can well do without.

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