India news November 12, 2012

Dravid backs Dhoni as Test captain

ESPNcricinfo staff

Rahul Dravid believes MS Dhoni remains the right man to lead India despite his seven straight Test defeats as captain in England and Australia last year, but, in the near future, the selectors will need to consider reducing his captaincy workload in one format to get the best out of him as wicketkeeper and batsman.

Speaking to Harsha Bhogle and Sanjay Manjrekar on Time Out, ESPNcricinfo's fortnightly audio podcast which will feature on the website on Wednesday, Dravid said it was important that Dhoni started planning towards rectifying India's recent overseas record at their next major away assignment, against South Africa late next year. Dhoni, Dravid said, would have to play an active role in getting the selectors to pick the type of players he wants and also open himself up to more ideas and suggestions than he has shown to do so far.

"From his own personal point of view, you also want to see the best of Dhoni as a player. He has a lot to contribute as a batsman and wicketkeeper and we want to see the best of that," Dravid, Dhoni's predecessor as captain, said. "I don't think we want to lose that and if that means at some stage, maybe the time's not right now but in the near future, we have to relieve him of the responsibility from one format to get the best out of him as a player then I think the selectors have to take that call." Across all three formats, Dhoni has captained India in 203 of his 318 matches.

"He has got to have an eye on some of the challenges he faces in his career, to be seen as a good overseas captain as well. That will be a function of the team he gets, but he's got to try and have an influence on the kind of team he gets, the kind of personnel he wants and that's a process that he's got to start now," Dravid said. "It's a process of communication and negotiation with selectors, coaches, working on some of the skill-sets of some of the bowlers and young batsmen coming through on what is required in a year's time.

"So while he has a micro view of what needs to be done in these [home] series [against England and Australia], he needs to discuss with the selectors about the kind of players he wants in South Africa and entrust them with the job of actually finding those players in domestic cricket."

The upcoming home Tests are an opportunity, Dravid said, for Dhoni to show he has learned the lessons from the overseas disappointments of last year. While acknowledging that many captains would not have survived in the role after losing seven overseas Tests - Dhoni had missed the final Test in Australia with an over-rate ban - in a row, Dravid said Dhoni's successful record prior to last year's poor results justified giving him another opportunity. "Dhoni has every right to survive it, because he's Dhoni. He has had a disappointing last year but he has won India a World Cup, we've been the No. 1 Test side under Dhoni. If you put pressure on him so early in the piece, or if you try to change someone like Dhoni now, I don't think you'll get to see what he's learned from the last year."

According to Dravid, captaining in India and overseas are two vastly different challenges, largely due to the conditions and the quality of the team's bowling attack. "When [India are] fielding, you can obviously see the difference because on the field is where you've got to manage that bowling attack," he said. "And when you don't have the necessary skills with the bowling attack, you can start looking a bit defensive, a bit flustered, bit rattled and start looking around for answers. But otherwise he's been pretty similar and that's been one of his strengths - his ability to stay balanced even through the highs and lows of Indian cricket, to be able to manage and stay in a cocoon, and not get too affected by what's happening around him."

While Dhoni's calm demeanour and ability to isolate himself from pressure in times of difficulty was an asset, Dravid said "there are a lot of good suggestions outside of the cocoon and there's a lot you can learn and pick up outside of this cocoon as well, which maybe he sometimes misses out on."

Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir have been stand-in captains in Tests and ODIs respectively in the absence of Dhoni, but their own concerns with injury and form in recent times, Dravid said, may have affected their long-term captaincy prospects. Virat Kohli was a good candidate for a successor in Dravid's eyes, provided he was able to extend the success he has had for another year. "In the next 12 months, if he has the kind of 12 months he has had and establishes himself in all three formats of the game, people are going to seriously have to look at him."

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • manish on November 15, 2012, 4:13 GMT

    thats how sachin spend 23 years in indian cricket.

  • Al on November 14, 2012, 16:29 GMT

    Excellent point by @Adingoth. We lost in England and Australia because of the inability of our batsmen to put some runs on the board. The biggest culprits were our Fab 4 - 10dulkar, Sehwag, Dravid (except against England) and Laxman. Dravid and Laxman had the decency to retire.

  • kans on November 14, 2012, 9:44 GMT

    @GRVJPR: Well, do u know that there exists a team named Pakistan? Their bowlers regularly bowled well to dismiss opposition below 200 and 150, but despite that they lost those tests because of their poor batting, you need 20 wickets to win a test, but what's the point if you lose your 20 wickets for fewer runs than your opposition?

  • narbavi on November 14, 2012, 9:41 GMT

    @GRVJPR: Hey guys mr.GRVJPR thinks that Dravid's twin knocks of 233 and 72 not out were absolutely nothing compared to Agarkar's 6 wickets in the second innings in the Adelaide test in 2004, please explain him that you need both runs and wickets to win test matches!!

  • GAURAV on November 14, 2012, 2:00 GMT

    @Narbavi Hey Guys Mr Narbavi is saying You can win matches only by scoring 200 runs and there is no need to take wickets. Please explain him, wheter you score 200 or 1000 you need to get opposition all out to win test matches.

  • Dummy4 on November 13, 2012, 23:00 GMT

    Dhoni is the best thing to have happened to indian cricket since sachin & dravid. A captain is as good as his team, period. Our pace attack is mediocre. Remember Jawagal Srinath dancing around the aussies in australia? He used to knock down 3 wickets in first 50-60 runs always!

  • Al on November 13, 2012, 21:58 GMT

    Dhoni is the best captain India has had in a long time. There's no wicketkeeper batsman who comes even close to Dhoni's average in tests and ODI. The problem is with non-performers like Sachin and Sehwag. They haven't done anything in last 1 year. Get rid of all non-performers and send a message - perform or perish. There's no shortage of talented young cricketers in India.

  • Vikranth on November 13, 2012, 20:11 GMT

    Theres No problem with Dhoni's Captaincy. The Problem is with our Openers, Zaheer Fitness and Form, Tendulkar not at his best after WC 2011. Dhoni Should be Continued as Captain till the end of Next WC in all the Formats and then give it to Kohli in ODI's Raina in T20 and Probably Pujara in tests. Also we lost 8 Test matches because whole team failed Miserably except for Dravid in England and Kohli in Australia and Bowling Below Average. Dada and Dhoni has the Teams with Same strength but Dhoni achieved everything as Captain which every Captain will dream of like winning WC's in T20 and ODI format, Asia Cup and all the other existing trophies including World # 1 in ODi and Tests. It is beacuse Dada was not having good Wicket Keeper batsman and Finisher like Dhoni.Also Dhoni as Test Batsman Scored almost 4000 Runs in 7 Yrs but other WK batsmans took 20 yrs to score same runs Dhoni Scored. That shows the IMportance of Dhoni as a Captain and Player in test Cricket.

  • Vikranth on November 13, 2012, 19:52 GMT

    india has Never done well in Australia and England in Tests. As we all know It is because of the poor performance by Openers India failed miserably in the past 2 Years.No need to worry atleast we keep winning in INDIAN soil both Tests and ODI's against any team. If selectors really want to make changes be it Captain or Team selection they should make after this Series.Looks possible that One of the Openers will be shown the Exit and Tendulkar will take some decision on his Retirement.Dhoni may Resign Captaincy from test Cricket.Finally Tiwari may also get a chance to play complete series possibly ODI.Also Zaheer will cosider playing only ODI or Tests. God Luck INDIA. My good luck to Gambhir, Sehwag, Zaheer, Tendulkar and Dhoni.

  • Criss on November 13, 2012, 17:24 GMT

    @spinkingKK couldn't have said it better myself, totally agreed !

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