September 4, 2014

Dhoni the Test wicketkeeper needs a break

History has shown that a vibrant keeper infuses energy into a side, but that quality has gone missing in the case of India's captain
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When the band's drummer goes down, the spirits sag
When the band's drummer goes down, the spirits sag © AFP

Like a drummer in a band, never underestimate the importance of the Test wicketkeeper. In essence they are the heart and soul of a cricket team.

In this latest quite bizarre Test series between India and England, we saw both teams fluctuate, and when they did the gloveman had much to do with it. Much has been said and written about the decline in MS Dhoni's wicketkeeping. In truth, due to the unrelenting schedule, he has become merely a stopper. When push comes to shove, Dhoni is on his last legs behind the stumps, a natural decline in energy and athleticism, a case of burnout and attrition, rendering him done and dusted as a Test keeper.

It is this lack of energy behind the stumps that kills the tick tock of the fielding side and bowling attack. With no central figure and energy to work off, India grind to a halt. He will do well to be ready for the defence of the World Cup, if he carries on playing as much as he does. It's time for a well-earned break in Tests, and I mean well earned, for he plays more than any player in the game. It has now caught up with him, and India can't breathe in the field over long Test match days while a tired mind and ageing body rules the roost.

When Matt Prior attempted another gutsy comeback, it didn't serve England. They couldn't make up for the mistakes that kept coming, and ultimately they mounted up and cost the team. Yet, as soon as Jos Buttler arrived, a different vibrancy emerged. It is simply the effect of new, fearless energy, a fresh perspective, a youthful face and body, and someone different to aim at.

Throughout the game's history, it is seen that great teams and in particular bowlers, have liked their keeper to be top-notch. There is no Einstein logic required to understand why, but as soon as you see a struggling gloveman, a drummer who misses the beat, the bowling attack inevitably drops its head.

Think of Alec Bedser and Godfrey Evans, Derek Underwood and Alan Knott, Dennis Lillee and Rod Marsh, Shane Warne and Ian Healy, Richard Hadlee and Ian Smith, Malcolm Marshall and Jeff Dujon, Shaun Pollock and Mark Boucher, to name just a few of the great combinations of all time. The champion bowlers swore by their masterful keeper. On the flip side, when the keeper was down, the whole team took a hit. Often teams rebuild around the wicketkeeper.

New Zealand have felt a resurgence recently and a lot can be attributed to BJ Watling, a fierce trainer, a gutsy individual and loyal team man. His batting soared as his keeping has blossomed, and his team has benefited from his infectious enthusiasm. Watling's inclusion allowed Brendon McCullum the opportunity to focus on leadership and run-scoring, a job he has so far done with aplomb.

Buttler could well provide the same spice to this rebuilding England camp. Prior did England a great service when he pulled out off his own bat; the selectors certainly weren't going to make the call. It is these quirks of fate that can set a team back in motion.

I will never forget the certainty that Smith gave Hadlee. Firstly, Smith stood up close - he had to on matches played on rugby grounds. He took the ball above waist height as often as possible, giving the impression to all, including the bowler, that Hadlee was certainly "hitting the gloves" with vigour and energy. With Smith up close, it drew the rest of the slips cordon closer, and I can attest to dropping some screamers flying around where I stood at third slip.

Having Jeff Crowe and Jeremy Coney at first and second slip respectively was the priority and they soon became the best in the world. Hadlee directly benefited from Smith's lead. Also, being closer to where the ball pitched, Smith could easily identify the length that Hadlee would be hitting. Within a couple of overs of play starting, Hadlee and Smith would meet mid-pitch to nail the exact length needed to hit the top of off stump. With Smith's finger-pointing accuracy, Hadlee would begin the process of dismantling the opposition with precision; as Smith and Co waited with fierce focus and fervour to complete the transaction.

There are many other examples of this happening over time, the most recent period being when Australia dominated for so long, led by the remarkable Healy, who had the ability to set the scene for his bowlers and slips cordon. He gave the bowler the target to aim at, while he lined his troops up magnificently. Oh, how magnificent they were too. McGrath, Gillespie and Warne bowling to a deadly cordon of Healy, Mark Taylor and Mark Waugh. You could not wish for a better band of men, led by the finest drummer on the planet.

Test wicketkeeping is an art and an engine room in one. With precision and pump behind the stumps, anything is possible on the playing field.

Martin Crowe, one of the leading batsmen of the late '80s and early '90s, played 77 Tests for New Zealand

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • on September 5, 2014, 20:50 GMT

    evwn with dhoni as captain since 2011 we havw seen white washes and series losses till date in away tests..so why cant we have some XYZ as captain cause can "msd as captain" fans and also msd himself give gurantee that we will not loose test series in OZ??

  • on September 5, 2014, 8:34 GMT

    Last two, three test matches against England, India scored every innings near 200. In that 200 big portion from Dhoni, if he also not in team; India will all out before 100. Otherwise need to find out some good players, who can play in bouncy pitches.

  • Reuben_Kincaid on September 5, 2014, 2:41 GMT

    Bowlers have always had their favourite keepers (after all, in the first ever Test match the great Spofforth refused to play because his preferred keeper Murdoch was not selected), and it's hard to believe that the current version of Dhoni would be the first choice of any Indian bowler. He should stand aside, both metaphorically and physically - he'd make a very handy slips fieldsman.

  • ujverm on September 5, 2014, 2:14 GMT

    Dhoni should immediately retire from all forms of cricket. He has enough money to spend his life without having to play any more. Indian cricket team doesn't need him. They can do well even without him.

  • Dilmah82 on September 4, 2014, 23:33 GMT

    Not just Dhoni the Test keeper, but Dhoni the Test captain also...and make that a permanent break! Unfortunately its hard to see who is the obvious replacement at this stage especially for the captaincy. The keeping aspect can be easily replaced. Dhoni is a different captain and person in Tets compared to limited overs formats. He is great in the latter but shocking in Tests!

  • Coolcapricorn on September 4, 2014, 21:38 GMT

    MSD just needs to retire from Test cricket at the soonest. His captaincy, team selection, wicket-keeping & even batting to some extent has been found wanting on overseas Tests for many years now as can seen by the poor results & regular series losses. Even really good opportunities to win abroad like on the recent tours to both SA & NZ are simply squandered away. Therefore he should certainly be made to step down from the Test team before the tour to Australia at the end of the year or we are certain to be get another series whitewash or drubbing.

  • prasanna_79 on September 4, 2014, 16:06 GMT

    Dhoni.., the test player needs a break.., but a permanent one at that.., if India wants to do well in tests.. Captaincy may be given to a test specialist like Pujara & the keeping to Wridhimman Saha.., the best keeper we have in our country right now..

  • ansram on September 4, 2014, 15:19 GMT

    WK can get repetitive stress injury on their hands due to the workload. It can get to the point of being painful on every delivery. In a test match, you have a no where to hide as an injured WK. So the keeping gets very defensive, with an aim to protect the hands and from making the injury worse. They will no longer make difficult pouches which is critical to test match success. I very much think Dhoni has RSI on his hands (his takes are not natural and there is a distinct attempt at minimizing pain), but he keeps playing without a break. He is a strong man but there is a limit to what the body can take, and Dhoni has reached his tipping point and needs rest.

  • AsherCA on September 4, 2014, 14:15 GMT

    I would not go as far as to say get rid of Dhoni - he is still a fighter with the bat. Basis what we have seen by way of batting performance, looks like some of the batsmen need a batsman-friendly pitch & environment, coupled with a batsman-friendly opposing bowling attackto score anything of value. One of these alleged batsmen could make way for Samson, Dhoni could continue as a batsman who sometimes bowls seam-up as well.

  • on September 4, 2014, 12:13 GMT

    The problem is not with anything else but his technique. He had the same issue in England last time but was superb at home and Australia. I just think Dhoni struggles as a keeper in England.

  • on September 5, 2014, 20:50 GMT

    evwn with dhoni as captain since 2011 we havw seen white washes and series losses till date in away tests..so why cant we have some XYZ as captain cause can "msd as captain" fans and also msd himself give gurantee that we will not loose test series in OZ??

  • on September 5, 2014, 8:34 GMT

    Last two, three test matches against England, India scored every innings near 200. In that 200 big portion from Dhoni, if he also not in team; India will all out before 100. Otherwise need to find out some good players, who can play in bouncy pitches.

  • Reuben_Kincaid on September 5, 2014, 2:41 GMT

    Bowlers have always had their favourite keepers (after all, in the first ever Test match the great Spofforth refused to play because his preferred keeper Murdoch was not selected), and it's hard to believe that the current version of Dhoni would be the first choice of any Indian bowler. He should stand aside, both metaphorically and physically - he'd make a very handy slips fieldsman.

  • ujverm on September 5, 2014, 2:14 GMT

    Dhoni should immediately retire from all forms of cricket. He has enough money to spend his life without having to play any more. Indian cricket team doesn't need him. They can do well even without him.

  • Dilmah82 on September 4, 2014, 23:33 GMT

    Not just Dhoni the Test keeper, but Dhoni the Test captain also...and make that a permanent break! Unfortunately its hard to see who is the obvious replacement at this stage especially for the captaincy. The keeping aspect can be easily replaced. Dhoni is a different captain and person in Tets compared to limited overs formats. He is great in the latter but shocking in Tests!

  • Coolcapricorn on September 4, 2014, 21:38 GMT

    MSD just needs to retire from Test cricket at the soonest. His captaincy, team selection, wicket-keeping & even batting to some extent has been found wanting on overseas Tests for many years now as can seen by the poor results & regular series losses. Even really good opportunities to win abroad like on the recent tours to both SA & NZ are simply squandered away. Therefore he should certainly be made to step down from the Test team before the tour to Australia at the end of the year or we are certain to be get another series whitewash or drubbing.

  • prasanna_79 on September 4, 2014, 16:06 GMT

    Dhoni.., the test player needs a break.., but a permanent one at that.., if India wants to do well in tests.. Captaincy may be given to a test specialist like Pujara & the keeping to Wridhimman Saha.., the best keeper we have in our country right now..

  • ansram on September 4, 2014, 15:19 GMT

    WK can get repetitive stress injury on their hands due to the workload. It can get to the point of being painful on every delivery. In a test match, you have a no where to hide as an injured WK. So the keeping gets very defensive, with an aim to protect the hands and from making the injury worse. They will no longer make difficult pouches which is critical to test match success. I very much think Dhoni has RSI on his hands (his takes are not natural and there is a distinct attempt at minimizing pain), but he keeps playing without a break. He is a strong man but there is a limit to what the body can take, and Dhoni has reached his tipping point and needs rest.

  • AsherCA on September 4, 2014, 14:15 GMT

    I would not go as far as to say get rid of Dhoni - he is still a fighter with the bat. Basis what we have seen by way of batting performance, looks like some of the batsmen need a batsman-friendly pitch & environment, coupled with a batsman-friendly opposing bowling attackto score anything of value. One of these alleged batsmen could make way for Samson, Dhoni could continue as a batsman who sometimes bowls seam-up as well.

  • on September 4, 2014, 12:13 GMT

    The problem is not with anything else but his technique. He had the same issue in England last time but was superb at home and Australia. I just think Dhoni struggles as a keeper in England.

  • Sameer-hbk on September 4, 2014, 11:58 GMT

    Dhoni needs to retire from Test Cricket and focus on the remainder of his ODI, T20 career. He has a lot offer in both the formats and free from the Test burden, he could be better prepared for the WC defense. Obviously the big question is, If MSD steps down who will captain the test side? What if MSD got injured before a test series, who would then? Whatever name turns up as the answer, that guy will take over. Be it Kohli or be it Ashwin or anyone else. If a new captain like Kohli fails way from home, so be it. Let him learn on the job. This argument that the test side can't survive without MSD by his supporters is simply not true. It is time to move on...

  • shane-oh on September 4, 2014, 11:16 GMT

    @Cpt.Meanster - agreed, scrap the format which the Indian players don't have the mental strength for, that way you can continue to claim they are the best team in the world, despite their repeated failures.

  • fairfan70 on September 4, 2014, 10:34 GMT

    Firstly, another fine piece of writing by Crowe. I cannot think of a better writer in Cricket at the moment. He will be very successful if he were to publish a book of memoirs in this style of writing. Coming to Dhoni, Crowe is spot on. Dhoni has been on a leased life in test cricket for last 4 years. He did bat well in some of the test matches during this period, but his wicket keeping has declined steadily. With demands of the game in three formats, leading the teams in all formats he has jaded so much that he has become very conservative mentally. I still remember the flamboyant Dhoni when he debuted for India and smashed the bowlers around while keeping fairly tidily behind the stumps. Age and body reflexes are not on his side now. He should retire from test cricket after the upcoming Australia series and only play in limited over formats going forward, until he had enough of them. He should retire on a high with all his career achievements than linger on in tests inviting scorn.

  • Sexysteven on September 4, 2014, 10:08 GMT

    Yea I agree dhonis wicket keeping days should be over in all formats his captaincy should be over in tests kohli can captain with dhoni play as a number six batsmen and asounding board for kohli if he needs him it's prob agood time to ease kohli in as captain and take some of the work load off dhoni and let him enjoy his final years as a batsmen only I think that would be the way India should go samju Samson can come in as a keeper batsmen he's good enough to play test cricket already if your good enough your old enough in my view India would afool not to get Samson in there soon don't be a England where players like Vince n Taylor should regulars in there team by now but they are not for some stupid reason

  • jeetv27 on September 4, 2014, 9:05 GMT

    Yes,Dhoni needs a break as a wicketkeeper.He shall rest in the series versus West Indies.Sanju Samson shall be made to do the job of wicketkeeping as he is young and very talented.So it's time to groom a youngster like him as he is a great future prospect.And given that Dhoni will retire in 3-5 years and Samson is just 19 years old,he fits in perfectly.So replace Samson with Dhoni as he is ideal.

    TWITTER-@jeetv27

  • Warm_Coffee on September 4, 2014, 8:57 GMT

    That''s just his opinion. Dhoni is doing fine as wicket-keeper. May be 3 forms is a bit too much for him now and needs to consider 2 one-day or something. Also Watling the South African born player is an overrated wicket-keeper.

  • sachsandy on September 4, 2014, 8:30 GMT

    MS Dhoni has struggled with both wicket-keeping and captaincy in Tests of late.....the problem is India don't have another player currently in this young lot who can be made captain and so far,they couldn't afford to play MS only as a batsman on foreign soil.....but with his performances with the bat in the last series vs England, its now time for that. Don't push Pujara to open,it's a uniquely specialist job which even the great Rahul Dravid had hesitation for, Rahane may be a better option and opening looks more natural to him.....Pujara,Virat,MS at 3,4,5.....the WK at 6 and five bowlers with Ashwin at 7 but not Jadeja,please.He is a LOI specialist and let him be so.

  • on September 4, 2014, 8:26 GMT

    Another option could be to share the wicketkeeping duties. Bring in Sanju Samson. Let him bat at 5 or 6. Let he and Dhoni share the wicketkeeping duties. This way both will remain fresh for batting. For fast bowlers Sanju can keep, while for spinners Dhoni can- he is very good standing upto the stumps. Moreover, when he is not keeping, he can also bowl. So, you have two fresh wicketkeepers throughout the test, two fresh batsmen and one additional bowler.

  • FAB_ALI on September 4, 2014, 7:34 GMT

    India need Dhoni the batsman and Dhoni the captain in tests, surely there is no doubt about that. Yes, I agree he should go the Mccullum and Sanga way and give up keeping in tests. Vijay and Pujara can open, with Virat and Rahane at 3 & 4..we can have the WK at 5 (Ojha or Saha) and Dhoni at 6 with 2 all rounders and 3 bowlers. That would be in good interest of the test team and Dhoni himself as he would save a lot of mental and physical energy.

  • on September 4, 2014, 6:37 GMT

    Dhoni is an efficient keeper if not the best. He has always improved and like every sportsman, he is liable to go through bad patches. I agree leading India in all the three formats has taken a toll on him but that doesnt mean you rule him out. India is going through a lean phase in tests and that is because the new generation of players have taken over. Give him some more time. Atleast we did manage to win a test in England this time. Being an Indian, I hate losing like all Indians do. But what we must understand is this team is not as gifted as the previous generation of our team was. This team is certainly talented and will go places. Fitness and longevity are key issues that we need to work on. I personally think Duncan Fletcher is too old to understand this young team's needs and we need someone young or someone like Ravi Shastri to bring the best out of our players. Lets not forget that we are doing well in the ODI's in England after we lost 3-0 in the 4 match ODI series in Eng.

  • sergio11 on September 4, 2014, 6:25 GMT

    Now if dhoni retire from test cricket...tel me a person to captain ind??NO ONE...virat is ready to take ODI captaincy but in test he is yet to establish himself as a good batsman,so right now he will have to concentrate on his batting rather than adding extra pressure on him..the other way is adding another wicket keeper batsman to the test team and playing dhoni as a proper batsman...but is he good enough as a batsman alone in test??as far as indian test team is concerd..the opening slot is open as Dhawan struggling away from home,so if they can find a wicket keeper batsman who can open, then problem solved...The only wicket keep who seems to be good enough as a test opener is Sanju Samson,but again..he is every young,untested and inexperienced even in domestic side..

  • Rahul_78 on September 4, 2014, 5:59 GMT

    Bravo..! What a magnificent read. Respect to Martin! About MSD just agree to the 1st line of Capt.Meanster. It might not be true but MSD gives you the vibes that he doesn't like or adore test cricket as much as shorter formats. Or he might have accepted in his mind that he doesn't have resources to win test series in overseas conditions hence tries to be defensive. All the more reason for him to give up on longer format of the game.

  • on September 4, 2014, 5:55 GMT

    Cpt.Meanster there are many Indians who love Test cricket , where there is a real test between bat and ball , where a batsman's technique,temperament and skill are tested so is the bowlers skill,strategy and stamina as well as their adaptability. I have nothing against limited overs cricket where different set of skills are required. I think the problem is India doesn't do well abroad where out bowlers struggle to take 20 wickets. If India win series abroad, the popularity will rise sky high. How many people remember Laxman and Dravid's record partnership and India's historic win versus say Champions trophy final?

  • on September 4, 2014, 4:46 GMT

    Dhoni is a bad keeper, in Tests and limited overs formats. He was never a natural athlete, and the only way he can continue to be tenable as a player is if he retires from Tests. He'd be doing a favor to himself and the rest of us.

  • on September 4, 2014, 4:24 GMT

    @Cpt.Meanster, don't speak on our behalf. I love test cricket. Only matches I have watched in stadium in my life are Test matches. This does not mean I do not like ODI or T20 but I love Test cricket as the same. You are seeming like disgruntled Eng fans whose team is unable to pay ODI's hence say that they don't care. Martin has nailed it correctly. Dhoni, the test wk need to go. He has served Indian cricket well, but test cricket is not his forte. Aus tour is so near, so blooding a new keeper could be trouble. But Dhoni can just play as wk and relieved from captain duty on the tour and then take a call on his future after that. That said, he still should lead in shorter format till he is fit enough to play.

  • IrvingPhillipFreely on September 4, 2014, 4:21 GMT

    @ Cpt.Meanster on (September 4, 2014, 3:14 GMT) "Test cricket is being 'forced' upon Indians. We don't have any interest in it." Your team might play like they're not interested but I know many Indians who absolutely love test cricket. I am not aware of any census or survey that has attempted to determine the relative popularity of each format so I cannot comment further on whether your statements reflect a majority view or not.

    To the best of my understanding, t20 was not very popular in India until you guys won the WC in '07. It might have been around before that win but never was as popular or widespread as it became after your success in that tournament.

    Maybe if India becomes more successful in tests, the popularity of the format there will increase accordingly? Success is magnetic. Whatever happens or doesn't, your statements appear as ones of convenience. It is far more convenient to claim nobody likes tests than to admit deeper flaws than mere disinterest.

    plz publish:)

  • ygkd on September 4, 2014, 4:10 GMT

    Knott, Healy and Smith were indeed ones to look to. Expecting them to bat at a higher level or captain* the side too would have been to miss the whole point of their genius. *As opposed to the job of vice-captain which was traditionally a long-serving keeper's potential role.

  • Collegefastbowler on September 4, 2014, 4:09 GMT

    It is very clear that the Indian players are just not interested in Test cricket. Having to maintain concentration over 5 days is difficult for them as they are used to the shorter formats where intense focus is required for short periods of time. The bowlers are used to bowling no more than 4 or 10 overs in a day. Test cricket is very different and once you get used to the shorter formats of the game, maintaining the focus over the 5 days of a Test cricket becomes alien nature and that shows in the performance. The type of captaincy required in Test cricket involves more of thinking and long term strategy and Dhoni is just not up to that style of play. It is better to give him a break from Test cricket and have a different captain and core team for Tests.

  • Suicide-Note on September 4, 2014, 4:05 GMT

    @cptmeanster : How you know Dhoni does not like test cricket. Please dont generalise things. You hate test cricket ,fair enough. But that does not mean you represent entire India. Grow up

  • ygkd on September 4, 2014, 4:02 GMT

    Dhoni was never the World's greatest keeper - but one thing is for sure, batting, keeping and long-term captaincy in multiple forms of the game is way too much for any one player, no matter how good he may be. As for Buttler's vibrancy, it is very much early days for his career. If his batting goes through a lean patch, as it surely will at some point in time, questions may then be asked about his keeping and his spot in the team. It won't be Buttler's fault though - he should have been learning his trade in the County system, not getting rushed into international cricket in one of the hardest jobs in the game. Likewise, Dhoni is not really at fault. He should have been spared some of his workload. I have been staggered over the years at how many people in cricket seem to have really low expectations or even understanding of actual wicket-keeping which surely is why people keep expecting keepers to do so much else besides what they are supposed to be there for.

  • natasrik on September 4, 2014, 3:50 GMT

    Martin, just like Sachin was given a freedom of playing as and when he want and also going to the extent of playing against a weak team like WI in India to sign off, Dhoni deserves the same treatment, he has earned the rights to do so. Dhoni is the true ICON, he has given so much to Indian Cricket he has the right to sign off, so just wait and watch the day will come.

  • on September 4, 2014, 3:27 GMT

    A permanent break at that will do him and India good!

  • Cpt.Meanster on September 4, 2014, 3:14 GMT

    Dear Martin, let's keep it simple shall we ? MS Dhoni does not like test cricket. That's the truth. He adores limited overs cricket and does well in it naturally. Test cricket is being 'forced' upon Indians. We don't have any interest in it. The BCCI should scrap all test cricket and concentrate on ODIs and T20s from now on. Then, we will automatically be doing a favour to MS Dhoni and the boys.

  • roversgate on September 4, 2014, 3:09 GMT

    I agree with Marin Crowe. I think Dhoni is overworked and should have stuck to his original idea of quitting one of the three formats by the end of 2013. The obvious format here is tests.

    We obviously cant lose a wicketkeeper and captain overnight, so I think Dhoni is definitely going to have to play out Australia and possibly even the first home series. It would however be good if the team management announce a vice captain during Aus series and actively get the v.c. to take over soon after that. I think in terms of wicketkeeper - Saha has waited long enough and Naman Ojha can be sent to a couple more A-series to put both of those guys on a head-to-head for the test wicketkeeper spot.

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  • roversgate on September 4, 2014, 3:09 GMT

    I agree with Marin Crowe. I think Dhoni is overworked and should have stuck to his original idea of quitting one of the three formats by the end of 2013. The obvious format here is tests.

    We obviously cant lose a wicketkeeper and captain overnight, so I think Dhoni is definitely going to have to play out Australia and possibly even the first home series. It would however be good if the team management announce a vice captain during Aus series and actively get the v.c. to take over soon after that. I think in terms of wicketkeeper - Saha has waited long enough and Naman Ojha can be sent to a couple more A-series to put both of those guys on a head-to-head for the test wicketkeeper spot.

  • Cpt.Meanster on September 4, 2014, 3:14 GMT

    Dear Martin, let's keep it simple shall we ? MS Dhoni does not like test cricket. That's the truth. He adores limited overs cricket and does well in it naturally. Test cricket is being 'forced' upon Indians. We don't have any interest in it. The BCCI should scrap all test cricket and concentrate on ODIs and T20s from now on. Then, we will automatically be doing a favour to MS Dhoni and the boys.

  • on September 4, 2014, 3:27 GMT

    A permanent break at that will do him and India good!

  • natasrik on September 4, 2014, 3:50 GMT

    Martin, just like Sachin was given a freedom of playing as and when he want and also going to the extent of playing against a weak team like WI in India to sign off, Dhoni deserves the same treatment, he has earned the rights to do so. Dhoni is the true ICON, he has given so much to Indian Cricket he has the right to sign off, so just wait and watch the day will come.

  • ygkd on September 4, 2014, 4:02 GMT

    Dhoni was never the World's greatest keeper - but one thing is for sure, batting, keeping and long-term captaincy in multiple forms of the game is way too much for any one player, no matter how good he may be. As for Buttler's vibrancy, it is very much early days for his career. If his batting goes through a lean patch, as it surely will at some point in time, questions may then be asked about his keeping and his spot in the team. It won't be Buttler's fault though - he should have been learning his trade in the County system, not getting rushed into international cricket in one of the hardest jobs in the game. Likewise, Dhoni is not really at fault. He should have been spared some of his workload. I have been staggered over the years at how many people in cricket seem to have really low expectations or even understanding of actual wicket-keeping which surely is why people keep expecting keepers to do so much else besides what they are supposed to be there for.

  • Suicide-Note on September 4, 2014, 4:05 GMT

    @cptmeanster : How you know Dhoni does not like test cricket. Please dont generalise things. You hate test cricket ,fair enough. But that does not mean you represent entire India. Grow up

  • Collegefastbowler on September 4, 2014, 4:09 GMT

    It is very clear that the Indian players are just not interested in Test cricket. Having to maintain concentration over 5 days is difficult for them as they are used to the shorter formats where intense focus is required for short periods of time. The bowlers are used to bowling no more than 4 or 10 overs in a day. Test cricket is very different and once you get used to the shorter formats of the game, maintaining the focus over the 5 days of a Test cricket becomes alien nature and that shows in the performance. The type of captaincy required in Test cricket involves more of thinking and long term strategy and Dhoni is just not up to that style of play. It is better to give him a break from Test cricket and have a different captain and core team for Tests.

  • ygkd on September 4, 2014, 4:10 GMT

    Knott, Healy and Smith were indeed ones to look to. Expecting them to bat at a higher level or captain* the side too would have been to miss the whole point of their genius. *As opposed to the job of vice-captain which was traditionally a long-serving keeper's potential role.

  • IrvingPhillipFreely on September 4, 2014, 4:21 GMT

    @ Cpt.Meanster on (September 4, 2014, 3:14 GMT) "Test cricket is being 'forced' upon Indians. We don't have any interest in it." Your team might play like they're not interested but I know many Indians who absolutely love test cricket. I am not aware of any census or survey that has attempted to determine the relative popularity of each format so I cannot comment further on whether your statements reflect a majority view or not.

    To the best of my understanding, t20 was not very popular in India until you guys won the WC in '07. It might have been around before that win but never was as popular or widespread as it became after your success in that tournament.

    Maybe if India becomes more successful in tests, the popularity of the format there will increase accordingly? Success is magnetic. Whatever happens or doesn't, your statements appear as ones of convenience. It is far more convenient to claim nobody likes tests than to admit deeper flaws than mere disinterest.

    plz publish:)

  • on September 4, 2014, 4:24 GMT

    @Cpt.Meanster, don't speak on our behalf. I love test cricket. Only matches I have watched in stadium in my life are Test matches. This does not mean I do not like ODI or T20 but I love Test cricket as the same. You are seeming like disgruntled Eng fans whose team is unable to pay ODI's hence say that they don't care. Martin has nailed it correctly. Dhoni, the test wk need to go. He has served Indian cricket well, but test cricket is not his forte. Aus tour is so near, so blooding a new keeper could be trouble. But Dhoni can just play as wk and relieved from captain duty on the tour and then take a call on his future after that. That said, he still should lead in shorter format till he is fit enough to play.