Australia v India, 3rd Test, Perth, 3rd day January 15, 2012

Dhoni for gradual phasing out of seniors

MS Dhoni has said he is not aware of any ultimatum the BCCI might have given to VVS Laxman after the batsman's lean series in England and Australia. It was reported in some Indian newspapers, quoting BCCI officials, that Laxman might have played his last Test in Perth. "As of now there is nothing like that that I know of officially," Dhoni said when asked about the development.

When asked if he would try to talk him out of it if Laxman indeed decided to call it quits, Dhoni said: "I won't like to answer something where there is a big if and big but. I don't know where this came from, but unless Laxman comes and tells me I don't know whether it's happening or not happening. I really don't have to think about it [now]."

Dhoni, however, spoke about the importance of phasing out the seniors thoughtfully. He said he hadn't sat and thought about it, but the end of the series might be a good time to start. "Not really right now," he said. "May be at the end of the series will be a right time. We also have to see what the senior's thoughts are. I think there is a bit more emphasis right now about getting rid of the seniors but it will be a very careful decision. Because of what they have done for the country, and the amount of experience they can share with the youngsters."

Dhoni spoke of getting a right combination of youth and experience. "Very important to have the right mixture at the right time," he said. "You can't have all the seniors missing out all of a sudden, and all the juniors coming in. We will have to thoughtfully decide the best option. Give a bit of exposure to youngsters coming [in], at the same time have the fair mix of experienced guys and youngsters.

"Ultimately [in] Test cricket a lot of people will be tested, but once they transfer that experience or share that experience, the job of the youngsters will become slightly easy. That's something we need to be very careful about."

There has been widespread criticism that India have already delayed the phasing out of their three great batting stars. There have been calls to lose with young players if they have to keep losing, like they have done over the last seven overseas Tests. The Adelaide Test will be India's last away from home over the next two years. "Ultimately we know that most of our batsmen who will come in or will be part of the team will perform in India because we have played in India," Dhoni said. "But we need to find ways as to how we perform outside India. Definitely it will be a good option to see the youngsters coming in. Of course we are playing quite a few games in India, but we are playing tough opposition at the same time. I think it will be a good exposure for them."

Dhoni was asked if the Indian set-up lacked the courage to drop legends of the game when they were out of form. "It's not about courage," he said. "It's about taking the right decision. Just for example, if you see in this series, people went after Virat [Kohli] to be dropped, and he batted really well in this series. You have to give that span of time to people. Especially when you know somebody is a really talented guy, you have to give that extra time to that particular batsman to keep going on."

Dhoni was also asked how he would like to see the transition happen. "I have not sat and thought over it," he said. "It's something everybody needs to be a part of. The players and the BCCI also. It will be a process rather than just an event. We will be carefully deciding as to what needs to be done in the best interest of the country."

Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

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