Give Dhoni the freedom he wants

By Feroz Khan | Last Updated: Monday, February 27, 2012 - 16:23
Feroz Khan
Twelfth Man

An Australian daily at the beginning of this year had claimed a rift among the senior players of the Indian cricket team. The daily wrote how there was a divide on the issue of captaincy between MS Dhoni and Virender Sehwag. Quoting former Indian coach Greg Chappell, it further went on to say that there was a 'cultural divide' between the seniors and the juniors. The media highlighted the story abundantly while experts and former players gave their own analysis ranging from how Australian press was playing mind games to ridiculing the Indian media for playing up the issue.

</br>Fast forward to the ODI series and statements given during three press conferences by three Indian players have all but put a stamp of official acceptance of turmoil in the Indian dressing room. The manner in which the Indian cricket board responded smells of ignorance at best. It is difficult to understand why the all powerful BCCI maintained a silence over an issue as big as this and one which could threaten the unity of the team. When the differences came out in full public view, only then did the board wake up from its deep slumber and went into damage control mode.
</br>Possibly, one may also extrapolate the performances of the Indian players in the current series to the glum atmosphere in the dressing room. The arrival of young players after the Test series changed the atmosphere somewhat and that can be easily deduced from Dhoni' statement.
</br>Dhoni's comments in particular seem to suggest that he is being forced to carry a burden (read seniors) and if given a choice, he would happily offload immediately. It is for this reason only that an elaborate tamasha of rotating players is being staged to keep the captain and seniors happy. Clearly, neither of the two parties seems amused.
</br>A flashback to the 2007 T20 World Cup now looks like a happy example of how players put the bigger goal of team over self (recall how the seniors voluntarily opted out of the squad). The decision meant that the new captain MS Dhoni was free to select from young players to form a team that created history. What if the plot had been a tad different and the seniors kept their names open for selection?
</br>The current captain of the Indian team is certainly facing the dilemma of picking from the seniors and the youngsters which is in addition to the differences of opinion with another senior member. It is true that a team functions best on the principle of democracy, but shouldn't the captain be given some sort of authority on matters ranging from team combination and selection? Sehwag can claim to be speaking his mind as per his role as a vice captain but it should be best left to the captain to take such important decisions. At the end of the day, it is the captain who is going to answer the board, the media and millions of fans in the event of a failure. Would it not set a bad example for the future captains who would hesitate in making decisions that might not go with popular opinion, but are necessary for the good of the team?
</br>Compare that to the Australian cricket team. Their current captain has the audacity to accept in public his role in the sacking of the most experienced ODI batsman. We are nobody to speculate what transpired during those meetings when such harsh but pragmatic decisions were being made. What we can be assured is of one thing--it is certain that the selectors and captain are on the same page—they won't hesitate, if for the team's sake, certain individuals have to be dropped (for instance Ricky Ponting) no matter what aura or glowing past glories define them.
</br>Dhoni certainly speaks his minds on cricketing issues whether he is playing for country or club. He has shown that his calmness and soft spoken nature doesn't mean he follows the path of least resistance. Let the captain be in complete charge and give him enough freedom to decide on the players he wants in the final playing XI. Do not give him any scope to complain or give excuses regarding the performance of some individuals hampering the team's cause.

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First Published: Monday, February 27, 2012 - 16:23

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