India in England 2014 July 3, 2014

Defensive captains' extended test

The duration of the Test series will allow Alastair Cook and MS Dhoni to reassess the strategies, or provide enough time to get thoroughly exposed
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Agarkar: Serious questions if Dhoni loses series

Roger Waters might well have been thinking of Alastair Cook when he wrote in Time that "hanging on in quiet desperation is the English way". Take some license and add MS Dhoni to it, for their stories as captains have a lot in common. Starting July 9, over 42 days packed with 25 possible days of Test cricket in England, the two captains will be under intense scrutiny. Knowing them as captains, they are likely to hang on and on until the desperation is not quiet anymore.

Cook and Dhoni both like order, set-pieces so to speak. The ball is 60 overs old; let's get a spinner and a part-timer on. The opposition is six down; let's attack only the tailender. Let's not change batting orders mid-series. Even in personal lives, the highs and lows of cricket don't seem to be a matter of life and death. Both men are conscious of not expressing too much despair or joy on the field; neither wants attention on himself. At the best of times, they bring this predictability to their operation that calms their teams down. No wild celebrations on winning, no rockets given after losses. When the cricket is over, Cook goes to his farm and tends to sheep; Dhoni opens up bikes and reassembles them, gets acquainted with army weapons and army ways. They won't be able to get away over the next month and a half.

They have had massive highs and lows. Dhoni has won the World Cup, World Twenty20 and Champions Trophy, but he has also gone three years without an overseas Test win, or a defining contribution with the bat over these 13 Tests. Cook has won an Ashes each off his bat and as a captain, has done the unthinkable by leading a series win in India, which are probably two of the most cherished results in England cricket, but he has also overseen the devastating whitewash in Australia, has done the unthinkable by losing a home series to Sri Lanka, and has now gone 25 innings without a century. Over this English summer, they must lay themselves bare on the field. One of them, or both, or even neither, will get the monkey off the back.

You can imagine Dhoni and Cook will like each other over a drink. They might love to discuss how not many in the outside world understand their ways. Surely they believe there is merit to what almost the whole world considers defensive, non-instinctive captaincy? "A hundred and eighty-seven Tests between us, and people are still questioning us." "A hundred and eighty-seven Tests between them, and they are still letting Tests drift on the field." They might even enjoy a game of poker, sitting expression-less, keeping their cards close to their chest, not letting anyone know what they are thinking. Except there won't be a lot of raising done. They could spend hours talking about Duncan Fletcher, who holds both of them dear. They might discuss how one of them was saved by his board president, and how the other's boss considers him and his family "the sort of people we need".

Cook and Dhoni. Dhoni and Cook. Possible mates. Possible nemeses. For Cook has given Dhoni as much grief as anyone else in international cricket. Piling on those runs in the home series, leading a side that consigned India to their most rueful Test defeat in recent memory, winning after conceding 325 on the Bombay Bunsen. Dhoni had his own back when he pulled out an Ishant Sharma-sized rabbit out of his hat in the Champions Trophy last year, cruelly ending England's quest for their first big title in 50-over cricket.

Even when Shane Warne says that the fourth day against Sri Lanka at Headingley was the worst bit of captaincy he has ever seen in Test cricket, Dhoni can pull out a few examples of his own to steal that thunder from Cook. Wonder if Dhoni found that fourth day all too familiar. Then again, Cook can claim Dhoni doesn't have such days at home. It takes a really awful day of cricket to be able to manage this in home conditions.

They might even enjoy a game of poker, sitting expression-less, keeping their cards close to their chest, not letting anyone know what they are thinking. Except there won't be a lot of raising done

Consequently Cook will be under more pressure than Dhoni, who still has the limited-overs success to fall back on. After all he did survive the two whitewashes and the home series loss to England. Cook's selectors and public are not likely to be that forgiving. Cook need not look past Dhoni if this feels like pressure. It matters nought to Dhoni what the public or the pundits think. It doesn't affect his game, it doesn't affect his team's game. They won the Champions Trophy weeks after the biggest scandal in Indian cricket in this century, and it had involved Dhoni's IPL team and his biggest supporter in India, N Srinivasan.

Srinivasan does his bit by protecting the team, by making sure nobody who will criticise them - like Shane Warne or anyone at Sky might England - will be employed by the host broadcaster. It is still unlikely Warne will be able to send Dhoni into a public meltdown. You need a thick skin to be India captain for this long.

It's not all doom and gloom for the series, though. It won't all start at 11am in Nottingham with third man, deep point, deep cover and deep midwicket as the brave new version of three slips and a gully. These two are exceptional international cricketers, and you don't achieve what they have achieved in their careers without mental strength. When Cook hammered India in 2011, it was part of a resurgence after almost a summer where he couldn't buy a run. Dhoni began India's turnaround at home with a series-turning double-century against Australia.

Michael Clarke and Mark Taylor might not approve of this, but with both the captains evenly matched as tacticians, preferring attrition to assault, this has the makings of a tight series. The duration of it will allow the leaders to reassess the strategies, or provide enough time to get thoroughly exposed. The stakes - surely higher for Cook than Dhoni, but he has the better bowlers - could even make the captains come out of their shells. Just as long as a proper batsman is not batting with a tailender.

Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • kumarcoolbuddy on July 7, 2014, 14:55 GMT

    @Dhutugemunu, may be you are correct if we just talk about on paper but if you want to look more into teams and its' strengths then India team that lost all away series is different from this team. In SA and NZ thought India lost both the series it performed lot better and on the other hand ENG on it's home ground lost to AUS very badly and to SL which was not a strong team. Looking at teams' recent performance and current situaions India has slight edge over ENG.

  • on July 7, 2014, 10:37 GMT

    @Cluedin: you obviously have very little knowledge of test cricket. Being aggressive in 50 over cricket is way different from being aggressive in tests. In ODIs the opponents are looking to score at a quicker pace and hence going for boundaries more frequently, so wickets come relatively easy. In tests, there is more value on the wicket, he has the option to relax and play defensive, so you have to make the batsman play, you have to plot, you have to scheme and then you get the wicket.

  • Sexysteven on July 7, 2014, 4:03 GMT

    It might be agood thing if the weather plays spoil sport known these two captains they are going to try so hard to put us all asleep with there defensive negative tactics these two have the potential to ruin this series by bad tactics and batting on for to long and turning what should be agood series into a farce it hope it don't turn in to aboring stalemate by following what each other does cos we do want to be entertained and not watching to unimaginative captains going about there daily business with there same old tactics

  • Cluedin on July 6, 2014, 18:46 GMT

    Compared to 2011 where only Rahul Dravid pulled his weight, Dhoni has a brand new unscarred team. That is if you leave Ishant aside. One way of thinking for Dhoni could be to assume it to be a 50 over ODI while fielding and play accordingly, and leave it to his batsmen to play 5 day test match when batting. I am sure he will find ways to get ten wickets if he considers it as a 50 over match. Even if he cannot get 10 wickets in the 50 overs, he will have another 40 overs where he could still try the 50 over trick. This because he is a fairly aggressive captain when he is thinking 50 overs.

  • ladycricfan on July 6, 2014, 10:10 GMT

    Weather forecast for Nottingham test: Wednesday bright and sunny the whole day. Other 4 days will have some rain interruptions.

  • DaisonGarvasis on July 6, 2014, 8:09 GMT

    Looks like the first couple of tests are gonna have "batting wickets" as a defensive tactics be Enland. Defensive or otherwise, lets not have a series with many draws. Whoever wins doesnt matter, ECB should ensure results.

  • IndiaNumeroUno on July 6, 2014, 7:32 GMT

    In this series, rain will be the ultimate winner.... after all its an English "summer"!!

  • JustIPL on July 6, 2014, 1:38 GMT

    Cook has scored heavily and is well known for his attacking nature. He was the one who fearlessly fought on the dust bowls and brought win home. While tendulkar, sehwag, laxman can hang on without scoring for longer times then why not cook who is just 29 now and I am sure as a cricket fan the he will be back to good terms soon. May be in this series against India. If india insist on playing Bhuvi then after few overs it will be run feast and then ishant in the middle overs will also be an easy meal. Dhoni is an attacking captain in limited overs cricket largely due to the fact that he flies the helicopter to good effect while in the tests he is very very defensive. In fact, 8-0 whitewash came right after the WI series where he refused to chase an easy target. Dhoni is not a good test captain for sure while Cook is not like that. Both dhoni and cook are similar in the fact that they have lost some good players and are re-building.

  • on July 5, 2014, 17:39 GMT

    India Team - My Wishlist !!! U ppl agree ??? Shikhar Dhawan Gautam Gambhir Virat Kohli Cheteshwar Pujara Ravindra Jadeja MS Dhoni (c/wk) Stuart Binny Ravichandran Ashwin Bhuvneshwar Kumar Ishant Sharma Mohammed Shami

  • on July 5, 2014, 17:13 GMT

    Getting ryt bowling combinations and few responsible knocks from vjay rahane and few respectable knocks from kohli nd puji s gonna b d key!! most importantly dhoni shud go Vth a win or attitude! he shudnt not get compromised Vth a draw! in d recent t20 world cup he was qyt attacking nd ds series s n India's hands if he continuous d same!!

  • kumarcoolbuddy on July 7, 2014, 14:55 GMT

    @Dhutugemunu, may be you are correct if we just talk about on paper but if you want to look more into teams and its' strengths then India team that lost all away series is different from this team. In SA and NZ thought India lost both the series it performed lot better and on the other hand ENG on it's home ground lost to AUS very badly and to SL which was not a strong team. Looking at teams' recent performance and current situaions India has slight edge over ENG.

  • on July 7, 2014, 10:37 GMT

    @Cluedin: you obviously have very little knowledge of test cricket. Being aggressive in 50 over cricket is way different from being aggressive in tests. In ODIs the opponents are looking to score at a quicker pace and hence going for boundaries more frequently, so wickets come relatively easy. In tests, there is more value on the wicket, he has the option to relax and play defensive, so you have to make the batsman play, you have to plot, you have to scheme and then you get the wicket.

  • Sexysteven on July 7, 2014, 4:03 GMT

    It might be agood thing if the weather plays spoil sport known these two captains they are going to try so hard to put us all asleep with there defensive negative tactics these two have the potential to ruin this series by bad tactics and batting on for to long and turning what should be agood series into a farce it hope it don't turn in to aboring stalemate by following what each other does cos we do want to be entertained and not watching to unimaginative captains going about there daily business with there same old tactics

  • Cluedin on July 6, 2014, 18:46 GMT

    Compared to 2011 where only Rahul Dravid pulled his weight, Dhoni has a brand new unscarred team. That is if you leave Ishant aside. One way of thinking for Dhoni could be to assume it to be a 50 over ODI while fielding and play accordingly, and leave it to his batsmen to play 5 day test match when batting. I am sure he will find ways to get ten wickets if he considers it as a 50 over match. Even if he cannot get 10 wickets in the 50 overs, he will have another 40 overs where he could still try the 50 over trick. This because he is a fairly aggressive captain when he is thinking 50 overs.

  • ladycricfan on July 6, 2014, 10:10 GMT

    Weather forecast for Nottingham test: Wednesday bright and sunny the whole day. Other 4 days will have some rain interruptions.

  • DaisonGarvasis on July 6, 2014, 8:09 GMT

    Looks like the first couple of tests are gonna have "batting wickets" as a defensive tactics be Enland. Defensive or otherwise, lets not have a series with many draws. Whoever wins doesnt matter, ECB should ensure results.

  • IndiaNumeroUno on July 6, 2014, 7:32 GMT

    In this series, rain will be the ultimate winner.... after all its an English "summer"!!

  • JustIPL on July 6, 2014, 1:38 GMT

    Cook has scored heavily and is well known for his attacking nature. He was the one who fearlessly fought on the dust bowls and brought win home. While tendulkar, sehwag, laxman can hang on without scoring for longer times then why not cook who is just 29 now and I am sure as a cricket fan the he will be back to good terms soon. May be in this series against India. If india insist on playing Bhuvi then after few overs it will be run feast and then ishant in the middle overs will also be an easy meal. Dhoni is an attacking captain in limited overs cricket largely due to the fact that he flies the helicopter to good effect while in the tests he is very very defensive. In fact, 8-0 whitewash came right after the WI series where he refused to chase an easy target. Dhoni is not a good test captain for sure while Cook is not like that. Both dhoni and cook are similar in the fact that they have lost some good players and are re-building.

  • on July 5, 2014, 17:39 GMT

    India Team - My Wishlist !!! U ppl agree ??? Shikhar Dhawan Gautam Gambhir Virat Kohli Cheteshwar Pujara Ravindra Jadeja MS Dhoni (c/wk) Stuart Binny Ravichandran Ashwin Bhuvneshwar Kumar Ishant Sharma Mohammed Shami

  • on July 5, 2014, 17:13 GMT

    Getting ryt bowling combinations and few responsible knocks from vjay rahane and few respectable knocks from kohli nd puji s gonna b d key!! most importantly dhoni shud go Vth a win or attitude! he shudnt not get compromised Vth a draw! in d recent t20 world cup he was qyt attacking nd ds series s n India's hands if he continuous d same!!

  • cricketisagame on July 5, 2014, 14:57 GMT

    Great article without any bias after a long tine. Thanks Cricinfo. Good luck for both teams . May the less defensive captain ( none of them can be bold overnight) win the matches. If India goes with Shami, Bhuvi, Pankaj, Binny and Jadeja as bowlers with Gambir, Vijay, Pujara, Kohli, Rahane, Dhoni as batsmen and if England goes with Robson, Cook, Bell, Ballance, Root, Moin, Prior, Stokes, Broad, Woakes, Anderson, then this series will be a cracker

  • nashvillet on July 5, 2014, 9:42 GMT

    I think both the captains have done a lot for their respective countries and both have earned a great respect from the cricketing fraternity. The outcome of the series should not decide the fate of these two great men as a captain . This is a game and in a game there is always a side who emerges victorious whereas other side ends up losing. As an Indian fan i want my team to do well but i also wish cook and the English team all the very best and may the best side emerge victorious. It definitely is going to be a cracker of a series.

  • Realistic_cri_fan on July 5, 2014, 8:56 GMT

    2-1 to England or India is my prediction.All the best to both the teams.Hope the weather don't play a spoilsport.

  • on July 5, 2014, 8:40 GMT

    be aware of team India... surely India is gonna create history in dis series..... wait for 5-0 sweep....

  • GRHinPorts on July 5, 2014, 8:37 GMT

    The key line here is :"They could spend hours talking about Duncan Fletcher, who holds both of them dear." This defensive coach has been involved with both teams in the past decade and has impacted on the thinking of both captains. Quite a few comments about the quality of the bowling attacks and how that forces you to be defensive but this is wrongheaded. While you wont pull out a series of miracle of wins out the bag with a poor attack you can make the best of all your chances if you play positively. Cricket is a game for glass half empty versus glass half full thinking. In both cases the glass is at 50% but the latter will always triumph over the former all other things being equal. However this is not the view of Fletcher and his proteges Cook and Dhoni. They think negatively, and despite both teams having some strengths to work, they both accordingly achieve less than they could.

  • ladycricfan on July 5, 2014, 8:37 GMT

    Agarkar is talking about Kohli being the future test captain of India. I think Pujara will be the future Indian test captain. He has the experience of captaining the India A teams. Kohli will captain ODI and T20I. For Tests you need lots of patience. Needs a calm mind. Pujara looks the part. Kohli is a very emotional player. He is better suited to captain the shorter formats.

  • linguboy on July 5, 2014, 8:06 GMT

    @Jose Puliiampatta Not surprised that you forgot that he was countering another person's view. I think that fan didn't post it just out of blue. like always someone does.

  • on July 5, 2014, 8:02 GMT

    Hey Indian Fans 5-0 is coming just run a way !!! ha ha even every English county team or their 2nd XI can beat this Indian team in Longer format!!

  • vishalssg on July 5, 2014, 7:41 GMT

    wonderful article, all the best dhoni

  • on July 5, 2014, 6:42 GMT

    "We won't make hatred statements against players we don't like." a fan posted at 10:49 GMT.

    Within an hour, (at 11:29 GMT, on the very same day) the same fan posted thus: "...Check Mishra's stats once again. How many runs did he concede for taking those 5 wickets??? 200/5 is no achievement. its very poor. he took those wickets when batsmen are slogging him. ..."

    Very interesting, to hear from the same person. Of course, there is nothing wrong, in expressing one's views, no?

  • landl47 on July 5, 2014, 6:12 GMT

    There's not much between these two teams in terms of talent. England's players, especially the bowlers, are more experienced in English conditions, but actually I think the bowlers India has selected are quite well suited to bowling in England. Both sides have a number of young batsmen who look very promising.

    If it does come down to captaincy, I think Dhoni, who is much the more experienced captain, probably has the edge. However, my view is that in a series likely to be quite high-scoring, the side that fields best will probably win. Taking catches, saving runs and keeping the batsmen from rotating the strike is going to be critical.

    After seeing England snatch defeat from the jaws of victory against Sri Lanka, I'm not making any predictions!

  • neetdhan on July 5, 2014, 6:00 GMT

    As per my opinion, Cook is in more pressure than Dhoni because he had lost to SL last month, while Dhoni`s men had done well in last year. Dhani have good players to set in the middle of the ground, he has choice for batting order as well as bowling options. While England are struggling for team combination.

  • on July 5, 2014, 5:25 GMT

    oh stop it all of you why cant your players score big in flat tracks?? and fyi indian pitches are spin friendly, results of every single test match would come in 3 or 4days .. unlike the flat england summer pitches where it will take 5 days to complete the match and chances of draw are likely to be high stop complaining and start playing spin and come and break records over and over in indian conditions , if you can

  • on July 5, 2014, 5:25 GMT

    its time to give pankaj singh & Stuart Binny a chance of their life time & time for payback to Engalnd. sure indians gonna taste of success in this tour

  • on July 5, 2014, 4:29 GMT

    Its hard to blame Dhoni and India for not winning away test series. It happens with each and every team. Australia lost in England and vice versa when they hosted England. Same happens with South Africa and all other countries except for srilanka some how managing to win one test match in England.

    Had it been a 5 match series, then even that result would have been in favor of England. Hoping for a better contest between India and England this time around.

  • on July 5, 2014, 4:23 GMT

    If I were Cook,I would be as happy as any out of form batsmen in the world will feel, that team India and its bowlers have landed on your shores!Make merry and smash every record possible and etch yourself in history books like Ponting and Clarke did previously.

  • Lalz on July 5, 2014, 2:09 GMT

    This will be a series to measure the potential of bowlers. Agreeing the factor none of the bowlers except Ishanth is xperienced with the red ball, their performance will be vital for every single test victory. Batsmen will surely give a fight this time. Ishanth even experienced doesn't have an X factor to lead India in a formidable position on all tests. So on India low scoring tests we can see results and high scoring tests will be draws. Any win for India will be our bowlers hard work. I wish all the seamers get a chance on atleast two tests to show their potential. we should play 3 seamers+ Binny as AR + 1 spinner to reduce workload. Ist two tests we need to go with regulars and last three depending on their individual performances. Team : Dhoni, Kohli, Pujara, Rahane, Vijay/Rohit, Gambir/Dhawan, Binny,Ashwin/Jadeja, Bhuvi/Pankaj, Shami/Aaron, Ishanth/Pandey.

  • Stat1977 on July 5, 2014, 1:53 GMT

    England side may not be the best, but they will beat India comprehensively.India's overseas record is pathetic.They are well known flat track bullies!

  • Greatest_Game on July 5, 2014, 1:06 GMT

    @ Vikram Singh is of the opinion that "everyone knows that in s.a and n.z. india is at more stronger position than the host.. india almost grabs anwin there but the unlucky factor always follows us"

    India have played 17 tests in South Africa. Ind have won 2 - one in 2006 and one in 2010. South Africa have won 8. Are you really suggesting that Ind has "almost grabbed a win" every test, but "the unlucky factor" denied Ind a win 15 times? Really

    Ind played 6 test series in South Africa, & have NEVER won a series. NEVER! Did "the unlucky factor" deny India a win in every one of 6 series? Really?

    If it is true that in South Africa, "india is at more stronger position than the host," then we would expect that at home, Ind would be in an even much stronger position. But, in India, South Africa have won 5 tests, and Ind have won 5 tests, out of 12 tests played. Indeed, Ind, at home, does not even have a winning record in tests against South Africa.

  • bMike on July 5, 2014, 1:02 GMT

    I think India hasn't managed to win at least a single test match away from Indian soil for last 3-4 years. But they still managed stay on top of ICC rankings for years. That clearly shows how big flat track bullies they are.

  • criccritic1 on July 5, 2014, 0:53 GMT

    I'd vote to GET RID of DHONI as soon as possible. He is good in terms of coming up with excuses after excuses.

    if you say give him one more chance then my thoughts are, there are several chances given to him and now give CHANCE TO SOMEONE ELSE please!

    I hope MEDIA also TALKS ABOUT GETTING RIDE OF DHONI!

  • on July 5, 2014, 0:39 GMT

    @Cricket Nut on (July 4, 2014, 17:50 GMT)

    Very simple, direct, and accurate communication on your part. To win a test match, you have to take 20 wickets, makes your point the most important one, while comparing the captains.

  • on July 4, 2014, 22:50 GMT

    Dhoni needs a fast bowler. It will be good for the team

  • on July 4, 2014, 21:18 GMT

    @Naveed Khan --- Johnson does not play for England. He plays for Australia. Perhaos you were referring to Anderson.

  • Dhutugemunu on July 4, 2014, 20:54 GMT

    #4 India vs #5 England (Clash of 2 of the "Big 3")

    England, a team which have not won a single test during last 8 starting from August 21, 2013 (Lost 6 and Drawn 2) and lost last two Test series (Aus 5-0 and SL 1-0).

    India, a team which have lost all of their recent away series (Eng 4-0, Aus 4-0, SA 1-0 and NZ 1-0) and have not won a single game away from subcontinent for 14 Tests starting from June 28, 2011 (Lost 10 and Drawn 4).

    On paper Eng are the favorites (Big names, home grounds and Ind away record).

  • on July 4, 2014, 20:04 GMT

    @Vikram Singh. Your saying Dhoni beat Australia in Australia? Sorry but that has never happened as you've never won a series in Australia so hardly worth bragging if your talking about winning a single test match hey? Dhoni got India to number 1 purely from India's home form and nothing else as India have hardly set the world alight away from home hey? As how long was India even number 1 for as no one can even remember it , so must have been for one test or so ha ha.

  • on July 4, 2014, 19:36 GMT

    To all those who say dhoni's captaincy is dull, i would like to point out to the 8-1 field he deployed against australia (http://www.espncricinfo.com/indvaus2008/content/story/377450.html). I think it was one of the most unusual tactical display of captaincy from an indian captian in a long time. Yes, it might be lacklusture but if he gets the support of his bowlers then anything can happen. India's failures in the last 3 years can't be just attributed to dhoni's captaincy. All india need is a couple of genuinely good fast bowlers. Till then, dhoni shall remain the scapegoat.

  • notimeforcricket on July 4, 2014, 19:35 GMT

    Boycott's comments on captaincy were interesting. gave example of Strauss tossing up, giving pre-match interview, barely having time to throw his pads on and consequently getting out for 0. I just don't think captaincy is something which players can do longer term. Either the workload needs to be split or they should rotate it around the tem. I just think that opening batsmen need to be intensely focussed to bat. Smith was cooked at 33. Cook is heading down the same route. I just dont think we will see long term captains now. Make it a 2 year job. Let Bell have a crack at it. then someone else. We need runs from Cook. He is a terrible captain and a great batsman

  • on July 4, 2014, 19:19 GMT

    I like how he says" two ashes series and the unthinkable, a win in India"!!! Last time i checked India has never won a test series in aus or sa but we have won series in India, there is NO stigma attached to winning in India, teams go there and win!! The fact that no sub-continent team has EVER won in aus would seem to me to create that kind of "unthinkable" stigma involved with winning there.

  • Cricfever_PM on July 4, 2014, 19:12 GMT

    India has very good chance to win a Test match this time but it depends on how our bowlers perform well. The batting department will do well and can manage Anderson & Broad. MS should concentrate and do well in Test serious.

  • on July 4, 2014, 18:57 GMT

    I expect lot from bhuvbeshwar Kumar. Swing will be important with the duke ball. Indian bowlers will have to bowl their hearts out.

  • on July 4, 2014, 18:26 GMT

    The only way both captains keep their jobs is if England win the series 3-2 or 2-1 or something close like that. :)

  • on July 4, 2014, 17:56 GMT

    Agarkar is spot on.. I think this should be the last series as chance to dhoni to better his test captaining skills..wise men have already raised serious questions on the same.Its only because of his contributions as a player and captain in odi format that some fans continue to pour respect on dhoni's test captaincy too..neutral fans have always seen that dhoni is one of the worst ever test captains, never mind the no.1 ranking we got under him.The hard work we did on that route was already done under other test captains, prior to that.Dhoni simply maintained the ascent for a whlie before letting it slip, quite naturally, with some very poor attitude to test cricket captaincy.

  • on July 4, 2014, 17:50 GMT

    Bowlers at Cook's disposal: Anderson, Broad, (used to have Swann)... Bowlers at Clarke's disposal: Harris, Johnson, Pattinson... Bowlers at McCullum's disposal: Southee, Boult... Bowlers at G. Smith's disposal: Steyn, Morkel, Philander, Kallis... Bowlers at Dhoni's disposal: (used to have Zaheer)... Is it really so difficult to understand?!

  • on July 4, 2014, 15:59 GMT

    I personally feel this series is filled with the temperament of the two captains. one is still in the shock of why he became down after ashes series and other dhoni with a awesome record of losing almost all test matches abroad.. only captain who is aggressive shal motive the teams as both teams are filled with youngsters..

  • on July 4, 2014, 15:48 GMT

    A platoon commander on a mission is only as good as the troops working under him.

  • on July 4, 2014, 15:44 GMT

    When he have a good team at disposal, Dhoni is proactive and masterclass captain, but when he doesn't have the privilege, he is predictive dull and uninspiring. But he didn't do, anything to get a better team, always tried and tested and failed with the likes of Ishant, Rohit and to some extent Raina....

  • eric825 on July 4, 2014, 15:36 GMT

    Give Dhoni just one fast bowler and see how good a captain he is. Dhoni cannot win by himself. He needs support. Cook and Clarke have a more balance side. It is the side that wins.

  • on July 4, 2014, 14:25 GMT

    This is the worst comparison I had ever seen .. the msd and cook????? what the hell is going on..Msd is the best captain ever..he is completely unpredictable and one who is saying that dhoni is only good in odi's should understand that it was under his captaincy india grab the no.1 spot in the test rankings..the only bad time was last 3 years when we r going overseas without victory...everyone knows that in s.a and n.z. india is at more stronger position than the host.. india almost grabs anwin there but the unlucky factor always follows us..and to end this unlucky the best place is to fought at place at where these all unlucky things were started.. by beating england in england..by. by beating australia in australia and by winning tri series there and then the one at which no one is better thab dhoni..winning big tournaments..the world cup.. we r the defending champions ,one have to face us before even for dream of w.c .again MSD is the best captain.... I consider sl and nz lucky

  • abzjafri on July 4, 2014, 13:57 GMT

    I cant understand how Agarkar can say anything about Dhoni. Agarkar did literally nothing significant in his indian career, unless you want to talk about the most ducks in a row. Where as Dhoni has lead india to will world cups, taken india to top on test ranking. All this when the big guns (Sachin, Dravid, Ganguli, VVS, Kumble) were coming to the end of their careers / had left. If this was Gavasker, Shastri or Kapil Dev then full respect to them, they have the right to crisis. I am sorry but Agarkar doesn't!

  • on July 4, 2014, 13:41 GMT

    It will be a boring series. First instinct of both captains is to play for a Draw. There are no batting super star except for Kohli, in bowling it is Johnson. When Dhoni fears he is losing ground he will give bowling to Jadeja and Kumar. I feel after this series, either Cook or Dhoni will be gone as Test Captains.

  • on July 4, 2014, 13:24 GMT

    I think the problem with dhoni is that test cricket for him is not his no.1 choice and this brings out boring captaincy from him overseas.india will do very well to change their captain in the test format.dhoni is OK in limited overs but india need to think about their test captain.

  • ideal123 on July 4, 2014, 13:20 GMT

    If either team gets off the block fast and on target - they can rule the series based on other team's weakness. Most people might refute - but KP has always been helpful with a quick hundred or a high 50's at the start of series leaving opp bowlers in a bit of weather. Cook and team might score runs - but may not be able to do so with demoralising effect that is required to put down a team like India. India once it goes on backfoot thats where they remain.

    England has the advantage - but not by big margin. Both teams weakness with tactics, lack of strong teams should make up for interesting series - than their strength itself. Good luck to both.

  • Nampally on July 4, 2014, 13:16 GMT

    Yes Dhoni & Cook are constantly under Media scrutiny for their blunders at the crucial stages but Cook is way ahead of Dhoni, Head-to-Head! England whitewashed India in England in 2011 followed up by beating India in India the following year!. One thing common to both is they are both "Survivors". Neither has the "Killer instinct" & has lost Tests from winning position. As for tactics, Dhoni's insane tactics of playing 5 day test match with 3 specialist bowlers + I all rounder has hurt India badly. But he feels his way is right. Dhoni has his own favourites XI irrespective of their current form. Bench players remain so for the series. Cook on the other hand is more a "Team player" who leads by example of his batting. His XI is already chosen for him. His current poor form & bad luck also were major factor in his recent loss to SL. Captain can lose Tests but it is the XI that Wins them!

  • kiwi542 on July 4, 2014, 13:06 GMT

    No question the best captain in the world is mr mccullum at the moment. il give dhoni abit of credit, india dosent have bowling stocks like most teams in the world (auz,sa,eng,nz,pak) there bowling is 100 percent feeble shami looks like the goods but hasent quite got the results needed at test level. untill india (one of the big 3 i might add) wake up and look for some decent pacemen, instead of average spinners that are only half effective in own conditions they will continue loose to teams like nz away from home. expect and india drubbing, unless the like like of pujara and kholi do what they do maybe a couple of draws in there.

  • linguboy on July 4, 2014, 12:29 GMT

    @Kalyan Budhavarti He has the best batting average among all Wicket keepers played for India. And he won't find a place. Its pathetic how everyone is trying to hide the senior batsman's failure in those 2 tours behind Dhoni. What id Laxman achieve in that 8 matches??? Why did Sachin ignore WI tour before Eng tour in 2011??? Why did Sehwag play in the IPL knowing he has an injury?? How unprofessional was Zaheer khan when he turned up unfit for an important 4 match series??? Why did the selectors chose RP Singh ahead of others knowing he was on vacation??? Why didn't Sehwag who was the captain for the last test in Australia didn't do all of these you are saying??? Why did selectors opt to play Sehwag straight in to playing 11 without match practice??? Why the selectors ignored Ohja who was performing well in county games in favor of Mishra who was pathetic in that series??? Why was Gambhir openly discussing about Captaincy after winning IPL??? 1st answer these questions.

  • Absolutelycricket on July 4, 2014, 12:18 GMT

    This series is fate decider definitely for cook and to dhoni some extent. English bowling attack is strong as compared to India ( looking at warm up game performance against least performing country teams). India could have learned and included Umesh Yadav in test squad replacing B Kumar who is only good at ODI/ t20 economy bowler . India need pace here as english batsman are used to swing and can read line at 130KPH B kumar deliveries. Murli / gambhir need to step up and form a good partnership with Dhawan who need to be aggressive as is. Rahane, Kohli, Pujara, Sharma key to middle order and Dhoni, Ashwin to slog at the end what broad, swann and bresnan did in last tour. england need to work out on batting department only with moeen ali, Root, are inform team is balanced and has greater chances of winning against unpredictable team. at this moment who will win cannot be decided

  • on July 4, 2014, 12:16 GMT

    as far as Cook or any England batsman is concerned, I wouldn't worry. The Indian bowling brings the best of any opponent batsman.:)

  • MianMoosa on July 4, 2014, 12:11 GMT

    I guess this series is gonna be one of the boring in recent years,,,5 test, 2 defensive captains under extreme pressure, changing English conditions from seam & swing friendly to low & flat, poor quality of indian bowling & absence of regular spinner in england side will be its factor,s...i guess 2 or 3 test gonna be draw,,,

  • Front-Foot-Lunge-Needs-A-Hug on July 4, 2014, 12:09 GMT

    @5-0wombats, I agree, I think England will struggle against India and get smashed by the Aussies next year. I also agree with you that Dhoni is a better captain.

  • on July 4, 2014, 12:05 GMT

    Extremely awesome analysis..awaiting the best test cricket between the two titans :)

  • on July 4, 2014, 12:03 GMT

    @sesha, my point exactly. @IT, please read sesha's comments as well w.r.t my comparisons. 'If he is not the captain, he wond find the place in the test team', absolutely correct. I still come from a school where you pick your playing 11 first and then the captain. Dhoni for me was never in the test team!

  • ladycricfan on July 4, 2014, 12:00 GMT

    People who bash Ashwin should realise that he played only 4 tests overseas and all of them were on unresponsive( to spinners) pitches. Two small a sample to judge him. Dhoni should've played him in the 2nd test v SA, where Jaddu took 6wickets. If both spinners played in that match india would've won the match. Ashwin's home record is second to none.

  • on July 4, 2014, 11:59 GMT

    @IT, bro, I hope you understand what I am saying when I am comparing the bowlers. At some point in time, Zak was also new to test cricket, so was every bowler who has started their international career. Steyn was not born Steyn, He had the talent which Smith Groomed. Let me tell you a better example. Before the Ashes series in Aus began, MJ did not even play the Eng series and no one thought he would ever return to play for Aus. Yet Clarke, long way before the series, declared that MJ will be Man of the series.I know its T20 but look at how Gambhir used Yadav and Vinay for KKR.It about that confidence you show in your bowlers and and it does not help saying that bowling is the weak link. Do they have potential, Of course yes. We should be behind them rather than critising them. Ishant case is dodgy for me too. I was his fan but even my patience is running out and I somehow think this may well be his last series if he does not stand up.

  • linguboy on July 4, 2014, 11:54 GMT

    @brussleslion They should have included Ohja in the team but he is not the same bowler as last year. He performance was average against Australia last summer. Jadeja has progressed so much as a spinner that put Ohja down the order since both are of same variety. He took 10 wickets against WI but WI being them(no disrespect) that performance don't hold much water. Indian selectors made a blunder in 2011 by selecting Mishra ahead of Ohja at Oval when they have Ohja bowling well in county circuit. That could be the moment. But they missed it badly. He is the 3rd spinner in the tests in the pecking order.

  • on July 4, 2014, 11:53 GMT

    waiting for a good battle ...

  • on July 4, 2014, 11:45 GMT

    My team For first test 1. Gambhir 2. Rahane 3. Pujara 4. Kohli 5. Binny 6. Rohit 7. Dhoni 8. Jadeja 9. Bhuvi 10. Shami 11. Aaron (Actually here we needed Yadav)

  • linguboy on July 4, 2014, 11:44 GMT

    @brussleslion I agree Dhoni needs to improve to certain extent. But the example of last England tour is not correct. Any Captain will feel the enthusiasm reduce a large extent when your premier bowler limps out of the 1st session of a series. Particularly when you have selected only 4 bowlers. That bowler being the leader of attack damages morale to further degree. In second test he allowed tail to wag a little bit and that's his fault but a team batting at 260/4 how can you explain collapse of 290 all out??? its like England's last test against SL. Gambhir gone out due to Concussion, Harbhajan suffered an injury and can't bowl. In those 2 tests he bowled lot of overs and add to that his Wicketkeeping burden, he lost all his energy there itself. Rest of it was all formality. In the last SA and NZ series he was good for major part of the series and he took the burden of taking this team through huge transition. We will start win sooner rather than later based on last 2 series overseas.

  • ladycricfan on July 4, 2014, 11:43 GMT

    @Jose Pulliumpatta, I agree, considering the weather this summer and the desire to make matches last till 5th day, we can expect the pitches to be similar to that of SL series. But now it is mid summer. Pitches will be even drier. Curators can also tinker a bit to their liking, the amount of watering, length of grass etc... That's why the pitch to be provided are still unknown quality.

  • Ind_Analyst on July 4, 2014, 11:42 GMT

    @linguboy, For Mishra- no fan of his. Give him his chance- his record both domestically and internationally for the last 2 years is fabulous. Doesn't perform - DROP HIM. Get others we are a big country. I thought international squads were selected to play for the country- not "work on pace" - don't know how DuncanF or MSD will work on pace. Do I want Pankaj & Ishwar to play? Given Ishant's record (Vs Aus-44, Eng-45, SA-47; In Aus-73, Eng-58, SA- 54) - give me any bowler and I will say YES YES YES. (if he was dropped years back to work on his game, Ishant would in my opinion be a top class bowler) @Raju_Iyer." India had a set of ageing veterans…."- Exactly and having other players in the squad, he repeated the same players- that's the difference in a proactive captain- he would take a decision to drop for the team- not in auto mode.

  • linguboy on July 4, 2014, 11:29 GMT

    @ hanumanthchavala Check Mishra's stats once again. How many runs did he concede for taking those 5 wickets??? 200/5 is no achievement. its very poor. he took those wickets when batsmen are slogging him. Have any doubts check Cricinfo commentary for that match. Why is his test average so high if he is a good test bowler??? He may be a good ODI bowler but his test credentials are poor. Ashwin played 3 tests in Australia where even Murali have poor average. So you can give him the benefit of doubt. He averages 29 even after having having poor overseas average. Ashwin was the 2nd best batsman last time in Australia. You are comparing Ashwin with Mishra?? Ashwin averages 40 with the bat. So no comparisons there. Mishra is a poor tests bowler because his spin is too slow and he don't have that ZIP factor in his bowling.

  • saikarthikg on July 4, 2014, 11:25 GMT

    An interesting series. Just stop analyzing and enjoy watching it.

  • hanumanthchavala on July 4, 2014, 11:23 GMT

    every body saying bowling is pathetic then why dhoni selecting same bowling options why cant he try new combination tell me please. problem with whom dhoni or selectors bowlers are cause for losses team selection and captains are the causes for losses without testing all bowling options how can you say bowling pathetic in overseas, how many times dhoni tries yadav,aaron,bhuvi,zak, bajji/ashwin combinations in overseas and home, how many times he tries yadav, shami, bhuvi,pravin/zak, bajji/ojha/ashwin in tests or odi's

  • on July 4, 2014, 11:22 GMT

    Ganguly won the headingly test with Nehra, agarkar in his bowling attack. Adelaide victory was even more surprising. We had pathan, agarkar and nehra.. Wat abt pak series victory.. We had balaji, nehra and pathan. even our perth victory was acheived with rp singh, pathan and Ishant. Ganguly and Dravid had acheived with poor bowling attack, for dhoni bowling has become an excuse for his failure. If he is not the captain, he wond find the place in the test team..

  • kiwicricketnut on July 4, 2014, 11:22 GMT

    both these guys should of learnt a thing or two about how to captain a side after coming up against brendon mccullum in recent times, if they take a leaf out of his book they'll be fine. im sort of joking, while i think mccullum is a superior captain both cook and dohni have achieved amazing feats as captain, especially dohni, not sure why they get such a hard time, its not always the captains fault, sometimes his players just don't perform the job they are asked to do, maybe they lack a little killer instinct but both have achieved alot if you ask me.

  • linguboy on July 4, 2014, 11:17 GMT

    @ hanumanthchavala Yes. Dhoni can win only by chasing. What's wrong in that??? Captain can play according to his team's strength not according to some keyboard experts. If India's Strength is batting then why can't Dhoni play according to that strength??? What a hypo-critic argument!!!! Yes we all saw how team performed without Dhoni in Asia Cup and with Dhoni in WT20. So stop saying who ever support Dhoni as Dhoni's fans. I am against these arguments by these experts who never played any decent level of Cricket criticizing each and every move of professionals. With all the batting stars you mentioned India never won a WC for 28 years even when played in India until Dhoni became the Captain. What do you infer from that??? I can't even Imagine you are arguing Dhoni's Limited overs captaincy after doing so much. In can accept to certain extent in tests but in ODIs???? Wow.

  • on July 4, 2014, 11:17 GMT

    MSD can take heart from the recent performance of Sri Lanka in England. After ages some of the Sri Lankan batsmen were able to score centuries outside the subcontinent. The likes of Kohli, Rahane, Dhawan, Pujara and Gambhir have already done it in their short careers.

  • brusselslion on July 4, 2014, 11:13 GMT

    @linguboy: haven't seen Ohja recently so he may have gone backwards, but I was surprised to see him omitted from the squad. He bowled fairly well in the last series against England in India, and he has experience in England as he bowled very well for Surrey a few seasons back. OK, it wasn't the top level (County2) but he took something like 30 wickets in 8 innings @15. Personally, as an England supporter, I'm pleased that he is not in the squad, although I'd love to see him back at the Oval bowling for Surrey.

  • brusselslion on July 4, 2014, 11:03 GMT

    @linguboy: No arguments from me about Cook's captaincy. I think that's it's poor.

    Re Dhoni: Great ODI finisher; good ODI captain; terrible Test captain. Evidence: Last 2 Test series vs. England. In general insipid, uninspiring field placings; poor rotation of bowlers. Particular examples: Lords Test - Sharma bowling well before lunch, India on top. After lunch, Sharma off; injured (no) spinner on; England off the hook: Dhoni's batting throughout last tour; can't help being out of form, but throws his wicket away most times. Dhoni's body language throughout - Looked like the condemned man: India were 0-3 by the time they got to the Oval, and I'm sure that every one of the squad wanted to get home, however, they needed to have a bit of pride in their performance, and you look to the captain to show the way. Dhoni didn't. It was left to Dravid to act as the real leader. I believe it was a similar story in Oz? Maybe, I'll reappraise my view after this series but I doubt it.

  • hanumanthchavala on July 4, 2014, 10:56 GMT

    @mr.linguboy how many wickets ashwin takes in overseas and how many runs he scored check mishra stats he is better than ashwin and jadeja with bat and bowl check prev england record of mishra his highest score in eng 85 as a night watchman and decent bowling also he has 5wk hall in overseas

  • hanumanthchavala on July 4, 2014, 10:50 GMT

    dear dhoni fans tell me one thing how many times dhoni win the matches when we are bat 1st. how many times he give bat when we win toss and allows the opposition to 280-300. when a captain defends score successfully then only he is good captain with field and bowling strategies. we are winning odi matches because of good batting depth not due to dhoni captaincy. every time he making oppositions to 300 when bat 1st. how can you say dhoni good captain. with the batting depth like viru,sachin,dravid,gg,kohli,yuvi,raina,bajji,zak,irfan. even without dhoni indian team still win. if dhoni captaining to india team in prev bangladesh tour we definetely loss because of his selection and tactics

  • linguboy on July 4, 2014, 10:49 GMT

    @Jose Puliampatta And we promise we won't pass judgement on individuals after each and every session. We will wait till the match is over to analyse a players contribution. We won't ask the team to change after each and every test match except for some major poor performances. Am I right??? We(including you) will follow that right??? We won't bash opposition team and their fans unless they provoke us. We won't make hatred statements against players we don't like. These are the proposed promises we should work on, right??? I will follow it. Will You follow this???

  • on July 4, 2014, 10:44 GMT

    @Cricketfan11111 on (July 4, 2014, 10:17 gmt:

    Dobell had an excellent article on the pitches, one can expect in this series. Neither ECB nor BCCI can influence the state of the pitches much. Nor ICC!

    It is the Counties who had spent millions, in recent years for the improvement of their respective grounds and they want to recoup their investment. They wouldn't want the matches to end in 4 days, let alone in three.

    No wonder both teams have assembled enough (in number, not necessarily in terms of quality) bowlers to withstand the rigours of 25 days of competitive cricket in such a short span.Those who understood that excellent piece from Dobell can easily assume what kind of pitches they can expect.

  • venbas on July 4, 2014, 10:44 GMT

    For all the hype I still believe this is Englands test to lose...with the kind of bowling that India has,the England lineup will be wanting to have a go at and boost their averages...once you pile on the scores, the opposition is always on the backfoot and defensive...India can hope for a draw as best case scenario or a series of defeats if the batsmen crumble under pressure. Ofcourse if the young Indian bowling brigade find their mojo, there is some slim hope of a fightback and possible victory

  • linguboy on July 4, 2014, 10:29 GMT

    @NEErajlima Wake up from slumber. go and check Mishra's stats. He averages 43 in test cricket. He is no Kumble. Stop day dreaming. Ashwin averages 29 in test cricket. Please stop these type of wanting personal favorites in the team. Please check the facts before posting. How come Shami is bowling still without encouragement??? Bhuvi developed yorkers last year but Dhoni protested him from death for 1 year before if not it would have shattered his confidence. Mishra always wilts under pressure. See WT20 semis and Finals and say who's better Ashwin or Mishra?? Ohja even averages 32 in India and yet everyone want to select him. Atleast hope Cricinfo publish this.

  • on July 4, 2014, 10:26 GMT

    It is easier to get a sheep off one's back than a Haley Davidson! And the ones watching the Harley Davidson clinging on the back of one are in multi-multiples of those watching the sheep hanging from the back of another. That makes the life of one more tough than the other. Wish both of them all the luck. And fans on either side the maturity to follow the proceedings without vituperative barbs at each other. Let us enjoy the cricket contest between the boys in similar boats.

    It has to be competitive, since both teams are keen to erase what look like indelible ink-blobs from their record books.

  • linguboy on July 4, 2014, 10:20 GMT

    @brusselslion Sorry. I disagree. Dhoni took India to no.1 when he had half fit Zaheer.He even drew a series in SA with Zaheer. What did Cook do??? It can be said a series between a poor test captain vs a poor overseas test captain. Cook with all his resources can't win a home series against SL??? Are u kidding me??? Anderson and broad<<<Eranga and lakmal?????? You are joking right??? Cook has just lost a series against a team that never won a test in Ind and Aus. You are comparing him to Dhoni??? India lost a series to Eng at home but our bowling was weaker than Eng's bowling. So its fine. Swann>>>Ashwin and Panesar had once in a lifetime series. Yadav only threatening bowler was injured after 1st test we lost the series. And we can' win overseas because we were in transition and our fast bowling is next to average. Dhoni took this team to great heights with an half fit Zaheer. Give him Anderson and Broad and see how he changes the equation.

  • on July 4, 2014, 10:19 GMT

    Dhoni is proven good captain, but this is huge obstacle to prove how good he is. In recent past India never played 5 matches test series. Bowlers never asked to deliver so much under hostile condition. It is challenge dhoni to rotate his resources in this long tour. Look like England favourite bit more than India.

  • ladycricfan on July 4, 2014, 10:17 GMT

    We'll wait and see what sort of pitches are prepared. If they assist English pace men, Indian pacers will do well as well. Is Dhoni managing the spinners well? If one spinner is expected to perform, why not two spinners, which is India's strength? Play either two spinners if the pitch is dry or non at all.

  • on July 4, 2014, 10:14 GMT

    why on earth people considering ishanth in their 11.....cant u guys see his performance against those weak teams.....even those county players playing him freely.......when comes to south africa and newzealand performance he is good at one spell in total test match....and in remaining spells he is so expensive.....i dont know why dhoni is sticking to useless ishanth......the talent of pankaj and iswar pandey is wasting.....when comes to aaron.....the only reason he was in the team is his quick deliveries.....it looks ridiculous

  • linguboy on July 4, 2014, 10:11 GMT

    @ Ind_Analyst Get over this Mishra love for God's sake. Mishra is no messiah. He averages 40 in test cricket for God's sake. 43 is his test bowling average. Ishwar is developing. They are working on his pace. You can't just play a bowler after selecting from domestic circuit. They need some time to fine tune him to International cricket. This is Ishwar's 2nd tour. Pankaj is selected for 1st time and you want to play him earlier without selecting??? What a farce this thread has become. Yadav has not even developed an Inswinger after all these years. Its also Dhoni's fault. Ishant Sharma is selected because he took 15 wickets in the last series. How many wickets did Shami took?? Bhuni had taken 1 wicket in 2 warmup games yet you want him to be selected??? Ohja averages 32 in India how can be successful abroad?? Get over this jumping on popularity bandwagon and support the team.

  • RapidCommentsPlz on July 4, 2014, 10:07 GMT

    @ Ind_Analyst said " Jadeja/Ashwin in all forms (neither bat nor bowl)"!! gimme a reason why not??

  • ITJOBSUCKS on July 4, 2014, 10:04 GMT

    @Kalyan Budhavarti Once again you are the twisting the facts..;) I agree that Dhoni has under-performed as a batsman esp overseas but he has played so many invaluable knocks in SC!!! Don't even think of comparing Kumble, Bhajji, bonda & zaheer with BK, shami, ishanth & jaddu/ashwin.....If you were to ask yourself, which attack would you prefer to play, you would get the answer!!! I do agree that his captaincy has to be bit more imaginative.

  • NEErajlima on July 4, 2014, 9:58 GMT

    Dhoni is best captain material...but he should realize bowlers are also part of team and we should nourish them...bowlers also win matches...see current win of SL over ENG....India T20 rampage till finals...dhoni is in fact grooming goot batting team but also destroying bowling morales...like rohit...given n number of unfair chances...is there any fav bowler of dhoni...????oh sorry...its aswin...who has always given preference over amit mishra by dhoni because he can bat....is this not destroying bowling moral...dhoni shud look aswin records abroad...

  • brusselslion on July 4, 2014, 9:56 GMT

    A battle between the two poorest captains in Test cricket. Get your money on a 0-0.

    @Cricketfan11111: "If Dhoni has the pace attack of Anderson, Broad and Planket (sic) he will attack all the way and win the series 5-0." I disagree. If Dhoni had that attack, he would use Ali and Root! "

  • AricentHarish on July 4, 2014, 9:55 GMT

    @ Kalyan, by your logic, Kumble, Bhajji and (a young fit) Zaheer were more pathetic than Mishra, Ashwin, Jadeja and Ishant.

  • Ind_Analyst on July 4, 2014, 9:47 GMT

    Excellent article. Competition of the Worst Test Captains... I have a feeling Dhoni will win as Cook is still better than Dhoni..And about the comments on india's bowling... if you pick Ishant (and Rohit Sharma in ODIs), Jadeja/Ashwin in all forms (neither bat nor bowl) and whine about bad bowling.. forget it. Give the others - Pankaj/ Ishwar, Mishra, a chance- if they fail fine, then complain..

  • on July 4, 2014, 9:37 GMT

    I completely agree with kalyan budhavarti.. well said mate.. what am trying to say all these days, u clearly well said in ur 2 comments. jadeja is not an alrounder material and bit and piece of player. our strength is spin but dhoni spoiled that department. . coz of dhoni, our bowling is in this position without confidence and toothless. .

  • Raju_Iyer on July 4, 2014, 9:35 GMT

    Public memory is very short, don't forget that when those two famous whitewashes took place, India had a set of ageing veterans who (with some degree of exception - like Rahul Dravid in England) not only batted poorly but also fielded poorly. If anything, this team has youth on its side so we can definitely expect a better fight. And to those who are talking of the overseas wins under Dada and Dravid, it is an insult to the bowling attack of that time if they are bundled in the same category as the bowling unit of these two white washes.

  • on July 4, 2014, 9:15 GMT

    @IT, sorry it was Kohli who scored 100 and not Puji, and yes the Lords innings. But is that what you are saying, one innings of note in 10 years justifies his place in the team. Tell me quickly, how many innings of Dhoni you can think of in which he brought the team out of a difficult position, has been the best player in losing cause? In these 13 overseas defeats, what has he done with the bat? Should'nt he, supposedly being the most experienced, guide the team rather than becoming a burden. Guys like Kohli, Puji, and Rahane have all scored centuries in the meantime. Should they actually look up to Dhoni? Dhoni does not have an overseas century, that says it all. It was his and his clone Jadeja's wicket which gifted SA the series. Had they played for an hour more, it would have been a draw. To your point @Long, Dada and Dravid have won overseas tests with more pathetic bowlers than this. Good captains know how to get the best out. Stop blaming the bowlers. Dhoni is the prob here!

  • Agnihothra on July 4, 2014, 9:10 GMT

    Welcome back Mr MONGA.... We missed you............

  • on July 4, 2014, 9:09 GMT

    Can both the teams consist of 18 players with 18 fielders allowed? That will please both the captains. Even then, you would hardly see more than a slip or two & a gully, Just as long as a proper batsman is not batting with a tailender.

  • King-Cobra on July 4, 2014, 9:07 GMT

    To anyone who says things about Indian bowling (pathetic, toothless etc) Can you please explain me why is it in such a state? Did India boast a rampant attack in the past? Did they not manage to bowl out opposition then? I think the captains were intelligent to choose the attack based on the conditions/opposition. Also they groomed good prospects. Dhoni so far: > Has just paid heed to other's opinions in grooming bowlers. Someone says "Inida does not have pace", he obliged and pinned his hopes on Yadav, Aaron purely on merit of pace. > Ishant I don't know what to say.Maybe he always gets the nod because there isn't simply anyone for third seamer position > Agree or not, spin has always been our strength. Dhoni's choice of spinners is simply not test material. They are in team because he likes them due to CSK bond and they respect him.

    So those who argue what can Dhoni do with his listless bowling attack: "It is only because of Dhoni, that the bowling is in such a state"

  • on July 4, 2014, 9:06 GMT

    This one is for all saying Dhoni is defensive captain..I know sometimes he is..But give him Bowling attack like Johnson,Siddle,Harris or Broad,Anderson,Finn ; He will rule the world..No one says he is defensive when he Wins matches in India coz He isnt ; He has bowling attack for that kind of Pitches and He rules on Such pitches..

  • Vaughanographic on July 4, 2014, 8:53 GMT

    A 200 in 2007- that's a pretty long time ago! I can't say you could put this series in the class of an Aus/SA battle but this will nevertheless be interesting. Hopefully the Indian bowlers can come to the party to make this series close.

  • ladycricfan on July 4, 2014, 8:41 GMT

    Excellent article. At the moment both teams looks equal and any team can win the series. Dhoni sometimes goes defensive when the bowlers fail to deliver. If Dhoni has the pace attack of Anderson, Broad and Planket he will attack all the way and win the series 5-0.

  • CricketingStargazer on July 4, 2014, 8:40 GMT

    @getsetgopk He was in tears because he had batted 20 overs to try to save a Test from a position which no side in the history of Tests had ever saved and was out from the penultimate ball. He cried because it meant so much to him.

    It's a series between a side that can't win and one that doesn't know how to win. Like the proverbial battle between the resistible force and the moveable object, it's a battle to see who will be worse when the chips are down.

    It could end up 4-0 to either side, or as a 0-0 draw between two insipid sides, unable to force a result on lifeless pitches (yes, forget the word "greentop", not even an Indian batsman will be able to find much of a hint of green this summer).

    Either way, this is a very nice piece to set up the series.

  • on July 4, 2014, 8:37 GMT

    the captain who is less defensive and more proactive will decide the series.

  • on July 4, 2014, 8:25 GMT

    @Sidharth Monga - this is one the Best Article, I have read on cricinfo. Agree with your points.

  • ITJOBSUCKS on July 4, 2014, 8:22 GMT

    @Kalyan Budhavarti Dont twist the facts according to your need!! Dhoni's 200 was the knock that changed the course of the match even though sachin scored 80 odd when India were 10/2 & kohli scored a 100.....When India won the series in Eng in 2007, it was dhoni's innings @ Lord's which resulted in draw before India won the next match under Dravid's captaincy who failed miserably in that series!!!

  • Longmemory on July 4, 2014, 8:20 GMT

    Everyone says Dhoni is a defensive captain. He is unimaginative and not very proactive, I agree. But I wonder what a captain can do if his bowling "attack" is as pathetic as India's often is, especially on foreign wickets? During the whitewashes in England and Australia last time around, our bowlers looked so unlikely to take a wicket that it was unbelievable. Michael Clarke could have blasted his way well past 400 had he been one for chasing records - fortunately for us he chose to declare and pursue a quick victory. What's the point of saying your captain is defensive if he has no weapons in his armory? What is he supposed to attack with? His body language? Or scream at his bowlers? Or set attacking fields when they can't maintain line and length and have neither pace nor spin to trouble batsmen? Give the guy a break - Dhoni is trying to do what he can with the hand he's been dealt with.

  • xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx on July 4, 2014, 8:09 GMT

    I just hope that the captaincy in the upcoming Tests provides attacking and innovative cricket rather than being characterised by more sentiment from "Time": "Ticking away the moments that make up a dull day ....... Waiting for someone or something to show you the way".

    If not, I will probably wish I was marooned on the dark side of the moon.

  • on July 4, 2014, 8:02 GMT

    And another thing. Let me clarify this thing of Jadeja. Firstly, who is an allrounder? A guy who is as good a batsman as the top 6 and as good as a bowler as in the top 4. jadeja is neither. At best, he is a bits and pieces cricketer. As a batsman alone, he is a waking wicket in overseas conditions. As a bowler alone, he should not even be in the team as Ojha is a way way better bowler than him. I am shocked that people want him to be in the playing eleven. If you dont have genuine allrounders, pick specialists for the role in tests. Go with only 4 bowlers if you have to, but dont pick bits and pieces cricketers.

  • on July 4, 2014, 7:54 GMT

    Brilliant article!! Rightly said, series between two (ultra) defensive captains. One point of note though. Cook has not been scoring runs since an year, has lost 2 series till now(one whitewash and one 1-0) and we all know how much pressure he is under by the media and the board. Dhoni on the other hand, as Monga rightly said, 'he has also gone three years without an overseas Test win, or a defining contribution with the bat over these 13 Tests'(Dhoni has never played a defining innings in tests, all his good scores have come when India were already in a good position, example, the 200 came after Puji's 100),the less said about his keeping, the better. Yet Cook is under more pressure than Dhoni. Do you know what I am saying???

  • getsetgopk on July 4, 2014, 7:54 GMT

    I have a feeling this tour will end up as a disaster for all the three involved, India, England and above all Cricket. Both these teams are literally broken down. Anderson, the lead bowler from England was virtually in tears barely a weeks ago, hows he going to pick himself up in such a short time. Cook is the same story just a bit worse since he's not doing his job both as captian and an opening batsman. Broad is still looking for his best but doesn't seem getting there. Then there is prior, and the fact there is no proper spinner makes it worse. For India, Dhoni's team has been losing test matchs for as long as I can remember. Kohli and Pujara are looking good but they've had a decent run of late and are due for a bad one. All in all this series has all the ingredients of becoming a disaster. Point is, India and England are the pillars of cricket and cricket need strong teams from these two. If they engage in such lengthy affairs with burnt out teams is not going to do anyone favors.

  • Vivek.Bhandari on July 4, 2014, 7:49 GMT

    Sid, you write like a dream; wonderfully compared the traits of Dhoni and Cook. Except the Deep Point fielder, every possible comparison was there. I think the team who can secure the lead in the couple of Tests and hold on to that would come out trumps; taking out 20 wickets would be a big headache for the Indians while the English would do well to groom in the youngsters

  • naveen_next on July 4, 2014, 7:46 GMT

    Playing 11 would be of 5 batsmen+1 keeper+1 allrounder+1 spinner+3 seamers... Dont include Rohit & murali vijay in the playing 11 plz...

    My pick would be: Gambhir, Dhawan,Pujara, Kohli, Rahane Dhoni Binny Jadeja Bhuvaneshwar, Shami, Ishant/Pankaj

  • on July 4, 2014, 7:45 GMT

    Excellent and very incisive piece of writing... Both of them surely have a very dull and defensive style of captaincy in tests... Big test for especially these two captains..!!

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  • on July 4, 2014, 7:45 GMT

    Excellent and very incisive piece of writing... Both of them surely have a very dull and defensive style of captaincy in tests... Big test for especially these two captains..!!

  • naveen_next on July 4, 2014, 7:46 GMT

    Playing 11 would be of 5 batsmen+1 keeper+1 allrounder+1 spinner+3 seamers... Dont include Rohit & murali vijay in the playing 11 plz...

    My pick would be: Gambhir, Dhawan,Pujara, Kohli, Rahane Dhoni Binny Jadeja Bhuvaneshwar, Shami, Ishant/Pankaj

  • Vivek.Bhandari on July 4, 2014, 7:49 GMT

    Sid, you write like a dream; wonderfully compared the traits of Dhoni and Cook. Except the Deep Point fielder, every possible comparison was there. I think the team who can secure the lead in the couple of Tests and hold on to that would come out trumps; taking out 20 wickets would be a big headache for the Indians while the English would do well to groom in the youngsters

  • getsetgopk on July 4, 2014, 7:54 GMT

    I have a feeling this tour will end up as a disaster for all the three involved, India, England and above all Cricket. Both these teams are literally broken down. Anderson, the lead bowler from England was virtually in tears barely a weeks ago, hows he going to pick himself up in such a short time. Cook is the same story just a bit worse since he's not doing his job both as captian and an opening batsman. Broad is still looking for his best but doesn't seem getting there. Then there is prior, and the fact there is no proper spinner makes it worse. For India, Dhoni's team has been losing test matchs for as long as I can remember. Kohli and Pujara are looking good but they've had a decent run of late and are due for a bad one. All in all this series has all the ingredients of becoming a disaster. Point is, India and England are the pillars of cricket and cricket need strong teams from these two. If they engage in such lengthy affairs with burnt out teams is not going to do anyone favors.

  • on July 4, 2014, 7:54 GMT

    Brilliant article!! Rightly said, series between two (ultra) defensive captains. One point of note though. Cook has not been scoring runs since an year, has lost 2 series till now(one whitewash and one 1-0) and we all know how much pressure he is under by the media and the board. Dhoni on the other hand, as Monga rightly said, 'he has also gone three years without an overseas Test win, or a defining contribution with the bat over these 13 Tests'(Dhoni has never played a defining innings in tests, all his good scores have come when India were already in a good position, example, the 200 came after Puji's 100),the less said about his keeping, the better. Yet Cook is under more pressure than Dhoni. Do you know what I am saying???

  • on July 4, 2014, 8:02 GMT

    And another thing. Let me clarify this thing of Jadeja. Firstly, who is an allrounder? A guy who is as good a batsman as the top 6 and as good as a bowler as in the top 4. jadeja is neither. At best, he is a bits and pieces cricketer. As a batsman alone, he is a waking wicket in overseas conditions. As a bowler alone, he should not even be in the team as Ojha is a way way better bowler than him. I am shocked that people want him to be in the playing eleven. If you dont have genuine allrounders, pick specialists for the role in tests. Go with only 4 bowlers if you have to, but dont pick bits and pieces cricketers.

  • xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx on July 4, 2014, 8:09 GMT

    I just hope that the captaincy in the upcoming Tests provides attacking and innovative cricket rather than being characterised by more sentiment from "Time": "Ticking away the moments that make up a dull day ....... Waiting for someone or something to show you the way".

    If not, I will probably wish I was marooned on the dark side of the moon.

  • Longmemory on July 4, 2014, 8:20 GMT

    Everyone says Dhoni is a defensive captain. He is unimaginative and not very proactive, I agree. But I wonder what a captain can do if his bowling "attack" is as pathetic as India's often is, especially on foreign wickets? During the whitewashes in England and Australia last time around, our bowlers looked so unlikely to take a wicket that it was unbelievable. Michael Clarke could have blasted his way well past 400 had he been one for chasing records - fortunately for us he chose to declare and pursue a quick victory. What's the point of saying your captain is defensive if he has no weapons in his armory? What is he supposed to attack with? His body language? Or scream at his bowlers? Or set attacking fields when they can't maintain line and length and have neither pace nor spin to trouble batsmen? Give the guy a break - Dhoni is trying to do what he can with the hand he's been dealt with.

  • ITJOBSUCKS on July 4, 2014, 8:22 GMT

    @Kalyan Budhavarti Dont twist the facts according to your need!! Dhoni's 200 was the knock that changed the course of the match even though sachin scored 80 odd when India were 10/2 & kohli scored a 100.....When India won the series in Eng in 2007, it was dhoni's innings @ Lord's which resulted in draw before India won the next match under Dravid's captaincy who failed miserably in that series!!!

  • on July 4, 2014, 8:25 GMT

    @Sidharth Monga - this is one the Best Article, I have read on cricinfo. Agree with your points.