Indian cricket April 24, 2012

Give MS Dhoni his due

Cricinfo
From Kaushik Bhattacharya, UK
14

From Kaushik Bhattacharya, UK

Given he's the most celebrated cricketer India have had (with the exception of Tendulkar), it feels strange to say MS Dhoni is underrated. But I do think he's not given due credit for his achievements as a Test match wicketkeeper-batsman.

Partly, I think it’s his excellence as an ODI cricketer (second-highest batting average among all players with 4000-plus runs) that overshadows his achievements in the Test arena. Add to that, he looks somewhat ungainly (both as a wicketkeeper and a batsman), and for some unfathomable reason most people have the view that great Test match players need to be elegant or graceful. The recent Test thrashings meted out to his team in England and Australia have given fodder to his bashers to begin the "Oh, but he can't play Test cricket" refrain.

Ultimately, the things that matter are performance on the field, the numbers you rack up and the results you deliver. Let’s have a look at the stats. Starting off small-scale, there’s no doubt that Dhoni's been India's best Test wicketkeeper-batsmen ever (and he's not finished yet). He has the most dismissals already and at a rate (dismissals per innings) higher than anyone else who's played at least 10 games with only Dinesh Karthik coming close. Also (again for keepers who've played at least 10 Tests), his batting average is higher than his closest rival (Budhi Kunderan) by over four runs per innings. And he needs to play only 22 matches more to go past Kirmani as the most tenured Indian wicketkeeper.

Going further afield, if you look at top wicketkeepers of all time, Dhoni ranks ninth in terms of overall dismissals and 14th if you look at dismissals per innings (for players who've kept in more than 30 Tests).

Turning to batting, his average is the sixth-highest of all time (again for players who've kept in more than 30 Tests) and ahead of men like Alec Stewart and Brendon McCullum who've played as specialist batsmen at times.

Plus, he's captained the side in 37 of his 67 Tests and has a win-loss ratio that's the best ever for an Indian captain and the eleventh-best for all captains (who've led their side in 35-plus Tests). This without a bowling attack half as good as that which any of the ten men above him had at their disposal. He didn't even have Srinath and Kumble (unlike Ganguly, who had at least the latter for much of his reign) who are probably India's best modern-day pace and spin bowlers respectively.

So, give the man his due and stop branding him as only an ODI and T20 champion. He's been good in Tests but needs better support from his team (especially the bowlers) to keep proving.

P.S: For those who say he can't score runs in pace-friendly conditions, he averages 39 in England and 31 in South Africa, though he’s been poor in Australia, averaging 19.

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • matrix on May 14, 2012, 21:55 GMT

    he is d most defensive captain ever, doesnt suite to him , as we go frm t20 or 1 day, capatin can do very little bt a test captain has a big part to play wid his constant attacking field placing n gambles...nly thing i agree is he does nt hv services of kumble anymore n it has hamperd india's wins ...

  • Rahul maurya on May 2, 2012, 22:01 GMT

    One of the greatest Indian captain followed by kapil and dada .dhoni is a man who lead India from the front remember both world cups which India have won under his leadership.how can u won test matches in foreign soil if u play with three and half bower whom one isant sharma who is averaging more than 100 ball per wicket .as well as a huge strong batting line up whom except Rahul David no one is able to touch three figure mark.If just one 100 run partnership in last 8 matches containing 16 innings how can u imaging to win a test match against team like Australia ,england .south Africa,

  • sports fever on April 26, 2012, 17:33 GMT

    yes indeed dhoni deserves his credit. Even after years of struggle and dedication, players like dhoni make to international cricket; and once they start performing well, we all indulge in comparing figures of players of different era without taking into consideration different situations of them. For ex. people will compare dhoni and steve waugh. Rather enjoy art of each captain as both have contributed lot to their nation.

  • sunil shaw on April 26, 2012, 14:11 GMT

    Not right think buddy

  • Bhuvi on April 26, 2012, 2:52 GMT

    Very correct,still lots of ppl says he is not fit for test..hope,they will learn something from this.

  • Tushar on April 25, 2012, 14:28 GMT

    Indeed Dhoni is the best captain India has seen for years now. Ganguly fans, with due respect, however will feel otherwise due to a long captaincy era he had and with the incidents of getting kicked out of the team and staging an amazing or rather superficial comeback into the side. I don't really agree to dada fans when they say "Dhoni is the captain of the best Indian side and Ganguly was the best captain of Indian side", for reasons being Ganguly had a much formidable bowling attack than his counterpart. As far as "Ganguly made a team" comment is concerned, I feel its true he gave chances to youngsters, but Dhoni ain't doing much different, its just not paying off. Also by making a team, doesn't mean he taught the players to play or even played their game or something, its a process that every team has to go through, to build a strong team for the future. Looking at the records and the stats, Dhoni is by far the best captain India has seen and most importantly is "unfinished".

  • Wasim on April 25, 2012, 13:54 GMT

    captaincy is just not enough .... Given his profilic run in odi's we expect similar or even closer to that in tests as shown by gilchrist Even his captaincy is quite under since he has given away a couple of games from winning to draw

  • J on April 25, 2012, 13:25 GMT

    Please do not forget that his average is high because he plays at number 6 or 7 and in this way he gets many chances to be not out. otherwise we have never seen him building any inning or saving any matches or at least destroy opponents like shewag as people know he can hit big big sixes.

  • Varun on April 25, 2012, 13:14 GMT

    To be fair, I think the criticism is more about his discomfort with captaincy in Test cricket, not as a player. If he hadn't been saddled with the captaincy in his 3rd year in int'l cricket, I think MS Dhoni would be counted with Sachin Tendulkar, Sanath Jayasuriya, Sourav Ganguly, Virender Sehwag and Ricky Ponting as one of the most dashing, exciting and productive batsmen of this generation. But he has been captain for 4 out of his 6 years in int'l cricket, so people have stopped judging him as a player.

  • Kaushal on April 25, 2012, 13:08 GMT

    Dhoni is underrated? What a joke!He is the most overrated cricketer India has ever had.he is average gully cricketer at best.never gives worth watching with his falty technique.

  • matrix on May 14, 2012, 21:55 GMT

    he is d most defensive captain ever, doesnt suite to him , as we go frm t20 or 1 day, capatin can do very little bt a test captain has a big part to play wid his constant attacking field placing n gambles...nly thing i agree is he does nt hv services of kumble anymore n it has hamperd india's wins ...

  • Rahul maurya on May 2, 2012, 22:01 GMT

    One of the greatest Indian captain followed by kapil and dada .dhoni is a man who lead India from the front remember both world cups which India have won under his leadership.how can u won test matches in foreign soil if u play with three and half bower whom one isant sharma who is averaging more than 100 ball per wicket .as well as a huge strong batting line up whom except Rahul David no one is able to touch three figure mark.If just one 100 run partnership in last 8 matches containing 16 innings how can u imaging to win a test match against team like Australia ,england .south Africa,

  • sports fever on April 26, 2012, 17:33 GMT

    yes indeed dhoni deserves his credit. Even after years of struggle and dedication, players like dhoni make to international cricket; and once they start performing well, we all indulge in comparing figures of players of different era without taking into consideration different situations of them. For ex. people will compare dhoni and steve waugh. Rather enjoy art of each captain as both have contributed lot to their nation.

  • sunil shaw on April 26, 2012, 14:11 GMT

    Not right think buddy

  • Bhuvi on April 26, 2012, 2:52 GMT

    Very correct,still lots of ppl says he is not fit for test..hope,they will learn something from this.

  • Tushar on April 25, 2012, 14:28 GMT

    Indeed Dhoni is the best captain India has seen for years now. Ganguly fans, with due respect, however will feel otherwise due to a long captaincy era he had and with the incidents of getting kicked out of the team and staging an amazing or rather superficial comeback into the side. I don't really agree to dada fans when they say "Dhoni is the captain of the best Indian side and Ganguly was the best captain of Indian side", for reasons being Ganguly had a much formidable bowling attack than his counterpart. As far as "Ganguly made a team" comment is concerned, I feel its true he gave chances to youngsters, but Dhoni ain't doing much different, its just not paying off. Also by making a team, doesn't mean he taught the players to play or even played their game or something, its a process that every team has to go through, to build a strong team for the future. Looking at the records and the stats, Dhoni is by far the best captain India has seen and most importantly is "unfinished".

  • Wasim on April 25, 2012, 13:54 GMT

    captaincy is just not enough .... Given his profilic run in odi's we expect similar or even closer to that in tests as shown by gilchrist Even his captaincy is quite under since he has given away a couple of games from winning to draw

  • J on April 25, 2012, 13:25 GMT

    Please do not forget that his average is high because he plays at number 6 or 7 and in this way he gets many chances to be not out. otherwise we have never seen him building any inning or saving any matches or at least destroy opponents like shewag as people know he can hit big big sixes.

  • Varun on April 25, 2012, 13:14 GMT

    To be fair, I think the criticism is more about his discomfort with captaincy in Test cricket, not as a player. If he hadn't been saddled with the captaincy in his 3rd year in int'l cricket, I think MS Dhoni would be counted with Sachin Tendulkar, Sanath Jayasuriya, Sourav Ganguly, Virender Sehwag and Ricky Ponting as one of the most dashing, exciting and productive batsmen of this generation. But he has been captain for 4 out of his 6 years in int'l cricket, so people have stopped judging him as a player.

  • Kaushal on April 25, 2012, 13:08 GMT

    Dhoni is underrated? What a joke!He is the most overrated cricketer India has ever had.he is average gully cricketer at best.never gives worth watching with his falty technique.

  • anuj mittal on April 25, 2012, 10:53 GMT

    I completely agree that he has been overly criticized for his failure in tests as captain. Indian selectors should also take responsibility for this debacle by not discarding the failed performers in name of seniors. But in India we tend to celebrate personal achievement more rather than team's performance. He is the best ever and the most respected Indian captain till date. His persona on and off the field is par excellence. And the nest part is his balance in defeat or victory both. But I am afraid such things are taken for granted in Indian cricket.. Still he definitely deserves to get more chances in test matches. Every batsman can not become Sachin or Dravid..Every alrounder can not become Kapil or Imran..And every captain can not achieve what he has done in last four years only.. So kudos to Dhoni ...And India is blessed to have him as a captain..

  • Fahad Ali on April 25, 2012, 10:42 GMT

    Poorly thought out letter. You repeatedly change your parameters; 10 tests, to 30 tests, to 35 tests and give us irrelevant, contrived and manufactured statistics.

    Scraping into the top third of dismissals per innings is hardly champion material, when Kamran Akmal, that renowned keeper, is second on the list (and has 15% more dismissals per innings), and when Prasanna Jayawardene hovers around the bottom third. This statistic is not useful or conclusive in any way.

    Likewise for batting averages; the roles of wicketkeeper batsmen have completely changed in recent times, and it's no surprise to see that the batsmen above and around Dhoni are contemporaries. Why not go by 100s, where Akmal ranks above Dhoni?

    Again, the likes of Border, Hussain and Fleming rank well below Dhoni in W/L ratio, but there's no doubt that they were far better captains.

    You've assorted some contrived statistics; I'm glad to say cricket is far more than a bunch of numbers. Lies, damned lies, I say...

  • Sujeet Batsa on April 25, 2012, 10:12 GMT

    Very well said sir. In our India most people spending time to pull successfull men leg. He is most successfull Indian captain. Under his captaincy, India won the 2007 ICC World Twenty20, CB Series of 2007–08, the Border-Gavaskar Trophy in 2008 and 2010 against Australia 2–0 and 2011 World Cup.

  • khawar on April 25, 2012, 10:01 GMT

    Nice article

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  • khawar on April 25, 2012, 10:01 GMT

    Nice article

  • Sujeet Batsa on April 25, 2012, 10:12 GMT

    Very well said sir. In our India most people spending time to pull successfull men leg. He is most successfull Indian captain. Under his captaincy, India won the 2007 ICC World Twenty20, CB Series of 2007–08, the Border-Gavaskar Trophy in 2008 and 2010 against Australia 2–0 and 2011 World Cup.

  • Fahad Ali on April 25, 2012, 10:42 GMT

    Poorly thought out letter. You repeatedly change your parameters; 10 tests, to 30 tests, to 35 tests and give us irrelevant, contrived and manufactured statistics.

    Scraping into the top third of dismissals per innings is hardly champion material, when Kamran Akmal, that renowned keeper, is second on the list (and has 15% more dismissals per innings), and when Prasanna Jayawardene hovers around the bottom third. This statistic is not useful or conclusive in any way.

    Likewise for batting averages; the roles of wicketkeeper batsmen have completely changed in recent times, and it's no surprise to see that the batsmen above and around Dhoni are contemporaries. Why not go by 100s, where Akmal ranks above Dhoni?

    Again, the likes of Border, Hussain and Fleming rank well below Dhoni in W/L ratio, but there's no doubt that they were far better captains.

    You've assorted some contrived statistics; I'm glad to say cricket is far more than a bunch of numbers. Lies, damned lies, I say...

  • anuj mittal on April 25, 2012, 10:53 GMT

    I completely agree that he has been overly criticized for his failure in tests as captain. Indian selectors should also take responsibility for this debacle by not discarding the failed performers in name of seniors. But in India we tend to celebrate personal achievement more rather than team's performance. He is the best ever and the most respected Indian captain till date. His persona on and off the field is par excellence. And the nest part is his balance in defeat or victory both. But I am afraid such things are taken for granted in Indian cricket.. Still he definitely deserves to get more chances in test matches. Every batsman can not become Sachin or Dravid..Every alrounder can not become Kapil or Imran..And every captain can not achieve what he has done in last four years only.. So kudos to Dhoni ...And India is blessed to have him as a captain..

  • Kaushal on April 25, 2012, 13:08 GMT

    Dhoni is underrated? What a joke!He is the most overrated cricketer India has ever had.he is average gully cricketer at best.never gives worth watching with his falty technique.

  • Varun on April 25, 2012, 13:14 GMT

    To be fair, I think the criticism is more about his discomfort with captaincy in Test cricket, not as a player. If he hadn't been saddled with the captaincy in his 3rd year in int'l cricket, I think MS Dhoni would be counted with Sachin Tendulkar, Sanath Jayasuriya, Sourav Ganguly, Virender Sehwag and Ricky Ponting as one of the most dashing, exciting and productive batsmen of this generation. But he has been captain for 4 out of his 6 years in int'l cricket, so people have stopped judging him as a player.

  • J on April 25, 2012, 13:25 GMT

    Please do not forget that his average is high because he plays at number 6 or 7 and in this way he gets many chances to be not out. otherwise we have never seen him building any inning or saving any matches or at least destroy opponents like shewag as people know he can hit big big sixes.

  • Wasim on April 25, 2012, 13:54 GMT

    captaincy is just not enough .... Given his profilic run in odi's we expect similar or even closer to that in tests as shown by gilchrist Even his captaincy is quite under since he has given away a couple of games from winning to draw

  • Tushar on April 25, 2012, 14:28 GMT

    Indeed Dhoni is the best captain India has seen for years now. Ganguly fans, with due respect, however will feel otherwise due to a long captaincy era he had and with the incidents of getting kicked out of the team and staging an amazing or rather superficial comeback into the side. I don't really agree to dada fans when they say "Dhoni is the captain of the best Indian side and Ganguly was the best captain of Indian side", for reasons being Ganguly had a much formidable bowling attack than his counterpart. As far as "Ganguly made a team" comment is concerned, I feel its true he gave chances to youngsters, but Dhoni ain't doing much different, its just not paying off. Also by making a team, doesn't mean he taught the players to play or even played their game or something, its a process that every team has to go through, to build a strong team for the future. Looking at the records and the stats, Dhoni is by far the best captain India has seen and most importantly is "unfinished".

  • Bhuvi on April 26, 2012, 2:52 GMT

    Very correct,still lots of ppl says he is not fit for test..hope,they will learn something from this.