“MS Dhoni, the great captain of Indian Cricket, the cool-headed wonder from Ranchi. He has done what other captains have not achieved in their lives for Indian cricket. He has taken Indian Cricket to the position, which every team envy about i.e.- Top Ranked Team in Tests” The celebration of Dhoni will go on and on. But lets take a break and think. Is he really the greatest Indian captain of all time?
I am not an anti-Dhoni campaigner. But when praises go overboard about this player, it makes me worried. There is no doubt that he is a good captain, a cool-headed player and most importantly – one of the few luckier captains India have ever had. But these things can never make him the greatest captain of India, at least as of now. I would like to bring out some comparisons between Dhoni and his predecessors, the likes of Kumble, Dravid, Ganguly.
Kumble : The greatest spinner from India, a thorough gentleman, and an epitome of humbleness. He made his debut in the early 90s. He has bowled his heart out on numerous occasions. He has been instrumental in many Indian victories both home and away. Though, he was made the vice captain to Azhar, he never had the opportunity to lead India, until the fag-end of his career. But in the short span of time during which he lead India, he captained the team with utmost sincerity and most importantly produced results. During Aussie tour of ’08, when India was denied a draw by the Aussies and the umpires, Kumble did not complain; rather he insisted the team to focus on the next match. He took all the media attention and shielded the team. Team responded to its captain and as a result won the match at Perth convincingly. Kumble, never had any qualms about pitch or the playing conditions. He believed that focussing on things, which an individual or team can take control is much more important than focussing on the external factors such as pitch and the weather conditions. We knew how often captains complain about the pitch being unfair or weather played its part in the team’s defeat. Kumble was a perfect captain. He handed not only the team to Dhoni, but a bunch of individuals with a self-belief that they can win even in trying conditions. Do you think India’s No.1 Spot in Test is a result only because of Dhoni’s captaincy?
Dravid : The predecessor of Kumble. The Wall of Indian Cricket. A player who did everything, not to cement his place in the team, but to make his country an invincible force? A perfect player, in most aspects, who sacrificed lot of his comforts for the team.He bowled when asked, kept wickets to include a specialist bowler or batsman, opened the innings in tricky conditions and what not. His credibility as a player can never be questioned. And his records speak volume about this wonderful player.when given a chance to lead, he lead by example. Take a look at his captaincy records. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rahul_Dravid#Captaincy. He led India after the Ganguly – Chappell row. Sure a torrid time taking into account the mood of the team after one of its best captains was expelled and also the changes, which Chappell had forced on the team. But he took the responsibility when approached. He could have easily said No to captaincy and no one would have questioned him. He then led the team to its first ever test series victory in Caribbean. Dhoni was handed over the captaincy when the team was in a good shape.
Ganguly – “The Real Captain” of Indian Team. The greatest ever to lead a team and the one who literally formed the team from scratch. Like Dravid and Kumble, Dada’s credibility as player can never be questioned. An Elegant left hander, he kick-started his test career with a century at Lords. He took over the captaincy at the time when Match Fixing Scandal was rocking the cricket world. Few important Indian players were also involved in the scandal. Indian Team was in a total disarray. What the team needed was a born Captain and a charismatic leader, who can pull the team out of trouble. Ganguly played the role to the dot. He formed the team – capable of winning at both home and away; a team, which will never give up till `the dying moments of the game; a team, which was brimming with confidence; and most importantly a team, which played aggressive cricket – an out of world trait as far as Indian teams were concerned. Indian team has always been the “Nice Guy” team. But during his stint, he instilled aggression into the players. We faced the Best Australian Team, in its own den and came so close to winning the series. Though, many believe the second test victory at Adelaide as the turning point, the real one was the century, which Ganguly scored in the bouncy track of Brisbane. He was going through a bad patch, the Aussies peppered him with bouncers. But he dealt with them and came up with a sublime century. He delivered the deadly blow to Aussies on the rainy day at Brisbane. He had the courage to do a shirt removal at the Mecca of the Cricket – Lords an act of revenge against Flintoff, who did the same during an Indian Tour. Though, he had a tough time with the bat as a captain, he was also responsible for the renaissance of Indian Cricket. The person who took the aggression to the always aggressive Aussies at their own den. Sadly though, he was involved in the Chappell fiasco and paid the price for it. Nevertheless, he formed the crux of the Indian team, which people celebrate now. All the Youngsters (Yuvi, Sehwag, Bhaji, Irfan, and so on) were included in the team during his tenure. Ganguly was responsible for the change in perception of other cricketing countries, about Indian team. Can Dhoni ever be called the greatest captain and player when compared to Ganguly? Not untill Dhoni’s team win consistently against all oppositions and in all playing conditions.
What Dhoni enjoying is a result of all the hard work done by the previously mentioned greatest players. They formed the team and handed it over it to him. So the success, which Dhoni enjoys should be attributed to these players as well. He has won a T20 World Cup and it made him skyrocket to fame, which I think is totally unfair. Also, he doesn’t appreciate the experienced players, when they play well. Maybe I am so biased against Dhoni, but the fact is that Dhoni Can never claim to be the greatest captain as of date simply for winning lone T20 WC, an IPL and a CL 20-20.
The worst part is when some players like Sanjay Manjerekar Compare Dhoni with Sachin, with regards to captaincy. Come on Sanjay, Sachin was given one of the teams, which could never perform, once he got out. When you compare Sachin and Dada, I support you, but comparing Sachin to Dhoni is ridiculous.
Dhoni can be called as Best Captain, only when he can produce results consistently playing against the stronger countries in their dens. Also his captaincy can be hailed for the success of Indian cricket, only in aftermath of retirement of Dravid, Sachin and Laxman. They are irreplaceable, but still can he form a team to reckon with as Ganguly did when some old horses left the cricketing world? Only time can tell,whether Dhoni can go on to become the Greatest captain. Until then respect his victories and support him, but don’t go overboard in praising him and put him on a pedestal.