The former England captain's take on the fortnight in cricket

'Dhoni is doing a Gilchrist'

India's all-round performance in New Zealand, England's ODI series win in the Caribbean, and Dhoni's captaincy (09:09)

April 6, 2009

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Transcript

The Tony Greig Show

'Dhoni is doing a Gilchrist'

April 6, 2009

News this week:


MS Dhoni's role behind the stumps and in the middle order has made him India's key player © Getty Images
 

India managed against the odds to draw the second Test, thanks to the sort of qualities one used to associate with England, and in particular players like Boycott, Barrington and Cowdrey. It's one thing having a batting line-up that can blaze away [Virender] Sehwag-style - it's just as important to have players who are also capable of being very difficult to dislodge if the team has its back to the wall. Gautam Gambhir made 137 in over 10-and-a-half hours, not a bad effort because we also know he is no slouch when runs are needed quickly. VVS Laxman, Rahul Dravid and Sachin Tendulkar also adjusted well to the situation.

In the final Test, India's batting started to demonstrate another quality that can make a difference - Dhoni is doing what Adam Gilchrist so often did for Australia and the Indian tail is responding. Harbhajan Singh, along with Zaheer Khan, Ishant Sharma and Munaf Patel, saw to it that India recovered from 204 for 6 to a respectable 379. Dhoni's leadership, the role he plays behind the stumps and his middle-order batting makes him India's key player now. It's also worth giving Tendulkar a pat on the back - he is still a fine player and his consistency in this series has been important to India.

At the time of recording, India, thanks to an innings of 167 by Gambhir led New Zealand by 531 runs with five wickets remaining. With two days' play left it's hard to imagine that India won't win this Test. In the first innings New Zealand were bowled out for only 197 with Zaheer Khan and Harbhajan Singh doing most of the damage. I expect more of the same and an easy victory to India

New Zealand, on the other hand, will be disappointed with their bowling - they just can't bowl India out twice, and if the New Zealand papers are anything to go by, they are desperate to get Shane Bond back into their attack. They need a spearhead if their steady medium-pacers are to be effective. Having said that, their batting has looked good, Jesse Ryder, Ross Taylor and Brendon McCullum are all dangerous players, capable of big hundreds.

I expected England to beat West Indies in all forms of the game in the Caribbean, but for one reason or another they didn't manage that. England won the fifth and final ODI at St Lucia to win the five match series 3-2. It wasn't convincing, although Andrew Flintoff's hat-trick will keep the comparisons with Ian Botham alive, but let's face it, the game was over by then - West Indies needed 38 from their last three overs. Flintoff also failed with the bat in the series and has plenty of work to do on his fitness.

Andrew Strauss will look back on the tour with some personal satisfaction because he has been consistent with the bat, and despite having the captaincy forced on him in unsavoury circumstances he made a good fist of it. He, Paul Collingwood and Andy Flower seem to be emerging as a thoughtful and solid leadership combination. There is also no doubt that they depend very much on James Anderson and Stuart Broad - they are fast becoming England's go-to bowlers. Strauss and his bowlers should also be very satisfied with this team in the field. From what I saw, they seldom made mistakes.

This was a tour that should have set England up for the forthcoming Ashes battle but it has not done that. Australia will go into the Ashes as definite favourites.

Chris Gayle and his West Indies team have been unsettled firstly by the downfall of Sir Allen Stanford and ongoing arguments with the WICB. Despite going into the England series as underdogs, they won the Test series, which was a real feather in their collective caps. With Gayle, Shivnarine Chanderpaul and Ramnaresh Sarwan all performing to their usual high standards it is not ever surprising to me that they are competitive in the shorter formats of the game, but to win the Test series was a good effort. I am still not convinced that West Indies cricket is going anywhere in a hurry, which is a shame because its one of the great places to play and to visit. Their great players of yesteryear must be so frustrated - more about that in a moment.


Andrew Strauss impressed as England's captain in the ODI series, but a loss in the Tests makes his team the underdogs for the upcoming Ashes © Getty Images
 

The news that three of Australia's most exciting cricketers, Andrew Symonds, Brett Lee and Shaun Tait have been selected in the 30-man Aussie preliminary squad for the Twenty20 World Cup is good for cricket. This squad will be reduced to 15 for the tournament, which will be played in England in June. Australia has experimented with youth in the Twenty20 format and that won't necessarily change - Symonds, Lee and Tait will have to prove to Ponting, in particular, that they are better options. This Aussie squad possesses a healthy balance of youth and experience but it will be interesting to see which players make the cut. One way or the other they will go into this second Twenty20 World Cup as one of the favourites, despite an average performance in the first tournament in Johannesburg.

It seems to me that John Buchanan finds it necessary to come up with an extreme left-field theory every year or so. Because he was the Aussie coach these ideas make big headlines and tend to attract serious criticism, especially from those who consider the role of the coach to be overrated. I have a bit of a soft spot for Buchanan because I think he played an important role in Australian cricket, but multiple captains is a ridiculous idea, let's just leave it at that.

There is strong evidence that loyal followers of the English county game are going to miss out on the coverage county cricket usually receives in the print media as many recession-hit local newspapers are on the verge of shutting down, and there are even national newspapers that have made a conscious decision to seriously reduce their coverage of the county game. This will be a huge blow because the county game is the cornerstone of the game in England. Most counties struggle to make money and are dependent on every bit of publicity they can get. It has always been said that even though the English don't necessarily pour into the county grounds in vast numbers they have always followed it in the daily newspapers. If that stops, English cricket will suffer.

What's eating Tony Greig:
It's so hard to understand why it is that the West Indies Players Association and the West Indies Cricket Board are taking so long to sort out their differences - they seem to have been at loggerheads forever. I have met most of the world's leading cricketers, critics and administrators, going back to the 70's. Let me dwell for a moment on just two of them, who come from the West Indies. Tony Cozier is as good a cricket writer and commentator as there has ever been. He has for many years written about the problems facing the game in the West Indies, but it seems no one is listening. Michael Holding was a great fast bowler and is a superb commentator who has so many constructive ideas when it comes to West Indies cricket. These two outstanding individuals between them know what is required to at least get things back on track. Surely the time has come to get the best Caribbean minds into a room to map the way forward for cricket in the region - it's never too late.

Question of the week:
The question this week comes from Guru Parkar, New Zealand. His question is: could India (or any other country with the right bowlers) use three bowlers in tandem, especially at the start of the innings? This gives bowlers the opportunity to bowl from both ends, makes the job of the batsmen more difficult, and gives the bowlers longer rest, keeping them fresher for longer spells. And all three get to use the new ball.

Guru, this is an interesting observation and makes some sense if you have three bowlers that are equally good with the new ball. Unfortunately this seldom happens and it's therefore understandable that captains go for the bowlers who are most likely to take wickets with the new ball. Fast bowlers also like continuous spells from the same end and there are considerations like the effect of the direction of the wind on swing.

Please don't forget to email your queries to tony@cricinfo.com. Don't forget to mention your name and the place where you're from. I will pick the best question and answer it in show next week.

Posted by batmannrobin on (April 12, 2009, 18:43 GMT)

@bis_d - The fact that is being missed is Sachin is still more than just a fine player. In the last 2 years since the world cup 07 debacle out of the 9 test Indian wins , Sachin has scored 910 runs at 75 with 4 100s and 4 50s more than anyother batsman in the same period. And he played match winning innings in literally in every finals of all the ODI series from belfast 07 against SA, home ODI series against pakistan, CB series against Australia, ODI series against NZ. The only blemish was the test series against SL , where he never looked in trouble against Mendis n Murali but seemed to get out getting early. @ BranchDravidian - Mercurial in local Indian lingo could also refer to performances where the needle soars very high up.

Posted by atulcricket on (April 8, 2009, 23:04 GMT)

I just want to mention here, what Sir Richard Hadlee and Martin Crow sad, Sir Richard Hadlee: When you score as many runs as he has in Test and one-day cricket and score as many centuries and half centuries as he has done, it makes him arguably the greatest player ever in the history of the game Martin crow: Dhoni and his men will go on to great things while Sachin Tendulkar continues to play. They are lucky to have the only man who can match Don Bradman as the greatest batsman of all time. We might not know enough but I guess Sir Hadlee's comments matter more as he was one of the greatest bowlers.

Posted by afs_talyarkhan on (April 8, 2009, 21:41 GMT)

As an India supporter I must say I find the puerile and infantile chauvinistic jingoism of some Indian fans nauseatingly embarrassing. To say Sachin is "still a fine player" is an admission by Greig that he himself has been wrong in the past to write off Sachin and that he still deserves his place in the test side (though he might not for much longer unless he retires soon from one day cricket). Not everyone has to think Sachin is a god - that is not compulsory for a respected commentator who was born South African, captained England and is now an Australian. The game is greater than any player and it is love of the game, not unthinking deification of individuals, which defines the measure of greatness of a person's commitment to cricket.

Posted by BranchDravidian on (April 7, 2009, 22:35 GMT)

@crpcarrot and batmannrobin:

Mercurial as defined in the webster's dictionary is "characterized by rapid and unpredictable changeableness of mood <a mercurial temper>"

Is that how you would characterize Sachin?

Posted by crpcarrot on (April 7, 2009, 15:00 GMT)

hey u india fanboys should get off Tony's back, he knows way more about cricket than you do. and i dont evens ee where the "anit-india" comments are?? unless of course you expect everyone to say india is great etc etc. anyone who thinks Tendulkar has been mercurial is doing a diservice to GG. he is currently the best test plyaer in the indian side. tendulkar os no where near waht he was.

Posted by sangal.dce on (April 7, 2009, 14:30 GMT)

well, well, well..Sachin is just a fine player? This come just a couple of days after Sir Richard Hadlee said that he is arguably the best..when moin Khan had to eat his words after he said that Sachin fears short bowling..when Harsha Bhogle had said that players even better than "him" might come and go, but the way Sachin carries himself on and off the field is something no one wud be able to replicate

How can someone forget Tony Greig live on commentary on April 21, 1998 at Sharjah, when Tendulkar played arguably his best one day knock, saying "What a player, what a wonderful wonderful player"..

Posted by SUNDOS on (April 6, 2009, 14:24 GMT)

As somebody who's heart beats for good entertaining cricket,I wonder who Mr,Greig is hyping up as a team.You did pick winners e.g.Sri Lanka in the 1996 world cup,you sort of foresaw the domination of Australia,who is the player or which is the tram to watch out for in the future.?and the West Indies player/Administration mess,makes one wonder a team that dominated world cricket keeps getting into unseemly catastrophes every two years or so.So many world class players,who;s integrity have been unquestionable,and they don't seem to find someone who will run West Indies cricket.

Posted by scorpdj on (April 6, 2009, 14:13 GMT)

I really have to say that this is not the same Tony Greig, I have noticed in the past few years he has become extremely negative about India and probably it is to do with his commentary contract being with Channel Nine. He wants to be percieved by the Aussies as being anti-India plus maybe also unhappy about the rising dominance of India and him not having a share of the pie by way of any lucrative commentary deals.

The Tony Greig I remember used to be extremely commplimentary of mediocre Indian teams in the past especially when he used to comment on the Sharjah matches.

And for him to say that Tendulkar is a just a fine player is a disgrace to any cricket purist! What more do you guys want him to do! He is the best batsmen in the world and will remain so for a long time to come! Ask Sir Richard Hadlee!

I think a commentator of his statutre should be more objective and not play to certain lobby's!

Posted by batmannrobin on (April 6, 2009, 3:57 GMT)

oh boy !!! Sachin still just a fine player! Now that s understating it a bit. Except for 2005 and 2006 when he was seriously troubled by the career threatening tennis elbow, every other year of his international year from 1989 to 2009 has contributations ranging from the substantiate to the mercurial. Even in 2005-06 , his one day performances were still good though struggled a bit in Tests. Now that s 2 average years in 20 !!!!!!! When it comes to Sachin - It s what Shane said - First there is Sachin - There is daylight - Then there are the rest. Another former gr8 Ian chappel suggested Sachin to quit after the 07 debacle as if he was the only one responsible for the sham. Just take every single series from then on - Test or ODI - from Belfast 07 to Newzealand 09 - Mere statistics will say the story.

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