January 24, 2016

The dangers of overstaying your time as captain

When a once-strong leader falls short of ideas, it tends to have a negative effect on the team. MS Dhoni is going through such a phase

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'Time to move on from Dhoni'

When Alastair Cook lost the 2013-14 Ashes series 5-0 in Australia, his future as England captain seemed about as limited as a T20 bowling spell.

Not only has Cook survived, however, he has prospered to the point where he regained the Ashes from those pesky Australians and also rubbed the South Africans' noses into their beloved Wanderers turf. It has been an amazing feat of resilience and perseverance, and it speaks of a strength of mind that was always evident in his batting. He has also shown that a captain who has his team behind him and all pulling in the same direction, has a great chance of achieving success.

A good captain can make sensible tactical decisions, but if the team isn't fully engaged they won't count for much. Conversely, an ordinary captain can invoke seemingly dubious strategies but if the team is 100% behind him, they'll often succeed. This doesn't mean captaincy is a popularity contest and the captain should go out of his way to please everyone, but it does show that a successful leader will have earned the respect of his team-mates.

Cook embodies this philosophy; he's not the greatest strategist and he's conservative in his methods, but by virtue of hard work and honesty he has earned the respect of a team that wants to play for him. Not surprisingly his confidence as a captain has grown with England's recent successes, and despite a poor showing with the bat, he's enjoying success as a leader.

This is not an uncommon trait in a captain. Greg Chappell's best period as Australia captain was his least productive as a batsman. Greg was a perfectionist as a batsman and at times it appeared he couldn't grasp that players were trying their hearts out but still failing. When he suffered a lean trot with the bat it seemed to help him better understand that failure wasn't necessarily a product of not giving 100% effort.

Alastair Cook is not the greatest strategist but over time he has earned the respect of his team by virtue of his honesty and hard work © Associated Press

Mark Taylor was a similar case. He went through a bad trot with the bat for a prolonged period but never once did it affect his captaincy. Both Chappell and Taylor were successful captains but when they weren't making runs they ensured it didn't adversely affect their leadership and that they still contributed to the team performance.

Cook is different in that for quite a while he struggled with captaincy and seemed to lack some qualities that a leader must possess to succeed. To his credit he has overcome some of those failings and improved in other areas and is now a successful international captain.

When they hand out gongs for perseverance and being strong-willed, Cook will be near the top of the class both as a batsman and captain.

One tendency a successful captain has to guard against is outstaying his welcome. Captains have a use-by-date, after which their influence over the team's performance either wanes to the point of being negligible or their presence actively hampers the side.

MS Dhoni reached the latter stage some time back. The current Indian side is badly in need of new ideas and different stimulation; when the opposition has racked up nearly 1300 runs in four ODI innings, it's not all down to flat pitches and wayward bowling.

Apart from a short period at Manuka Oval where he encouraged Ravindra Jadeja to taunt Mitchell Marsh, Dhoni has provided precious little inspiration to his bowlers. Sure, they have been inconsistent but the bowlers also aren't inspired by field placings that are primarily employed to contain, in the hope that the batsmen will self-destruct.

It's not as if India don't have an alternative. Virat Kohli has shown himself to be an aggressive leader and he is also in excellent batting form.

When Dhoni started out in the job he was a shrewd captain in all forms of the game and experienced widespread success. However, a captain overstaying his time can have the same debilitating effect on a team as appointing the wrong player for the job in the first place.

Former Australia captain Ian Chappell is now a cricket commentator for Channel 9, and a columnist

Comments have now been closed for this article

  •   Viswanathan Sanakaranarayanan on January 31, 2016, 13:41 GMT

    All Chappell brothers are always better Critic then were real doer in their period, all use to play decisive Cricket like doing Under arm Delivery(Trever Chappell) and being Commnaded by his brother Greg, these have not been happened in Under M.S.Dhoni Captaincy.

    He is better than All Australian Captains

  •   Kamal Dialani on January 31, 2016, 7:35 GMT

    I agree with all....chappell is what a self proclaimed expert.....the bcci should not have any role in making a call for Dhoni's retirement......everyone goes through a rough patch......n cook was a perfect example......MSD should enjoy the freedom of making a call on his career....... May be continue to play another 7-8 yrs.....by that time we might have more options as an alternate to Kohli.....n then Kohli n Dhoni can retire together.......Kohli is a good batsman y waste his talent on Captiancy......n over burden him so that he loses his batting form as well.....MSD must continue.......Chappell you are wrong again.......we hate changes.....So we don't agree to your self proclaimed expert opinion about our cricketers.......they know what they r doing.....and as amatter of fact you must start playing international cricket

  • natarajan on January 31, 2016, 2:47 GMT

    Infact I posted a brief review about Ian on MSD, on 27 th but never got published. Anyway to Ian, Akash and other excricketers , CNN IBN team S.mukerjee and the expert opinion of KS, MSD is a legend. If positivity is what think about then MSD is there with results 2WC, champions trophy, No 1 ranking in test, 2 Series victory in Australian soil and 2 IPL and as many champions league victory. Only captain in the history to lead his team in 50 matches in all ICC recognized formats. He is way above all the legends and he should have the license to say when he wants to quit, till then sit back and enjoy the game of cricker.

  • Lisa on January 30, 2016, 18:34 GMT

    In the past, Dhoni had demonstrated an uncanny ability as an ODI middle-order batsman to accelerate scoring as the situation demanded. More often than not, he could the deal in his team's favour. It is obvious that with advancing age, he has lost this ability and hence become a liability. The key issue now is decline in his batting more so than his leadership qualities.

  • Jay on January 30, 2016, 13:32 GMT

    Ian - Dhoni is on a roll! He wins 3 in a row & T20I series to boot! Whither "use-by-date"? Chappelli is wrong again. Few months ago he declared "Clarke second only to Taylor as captain." Oops! Before that he prophesied "Is Cook next in line to bite the dust?" Oops! Reality: Cook claims the Ashes, as Clarke bites the dust unto retirement. Now Ian praises brother Greg and clubs him with Taylor as two "successful captains." OMG! Whither Clarke? Recall it's the same Greg who quit as India's coach after the 2007 WC debacle. So Ian vented his infamous "Mirror, Mirror on the wall" dictum on Sachin Tendulkar to retire at age 34. Oops! Missed it by 6+ years. Greg's exit freed Dhoni into captaincy, he promptly lifted the first-ever T20 WC. Thereafter India reached the summit in all 3 forms of the game. Ian even proclaimed "Dhoni's among the great modern captains"! At 34, he still has plenty in his tank. Chappelli must admit he's wrong about Captain Cool. Like Captain Cook. Right, Ian?

  •   Mani Muthiah on January 29, 2016, 16:19 GMT

    Australia too conceded close to 1300 runs in ODI series. when the opposition has racked up nearly 1300 runs in four ODI innings, it's not all down to flat pitches and wayward bowling that too in home conditions. Are you saying that Smith is not a good captain? If you are too concerned about India giving so many runs in away condition what about your own players in their home giving so much runs? Then first think about smith then you can come to dhoni.

  • Anthony on January 28, 2016, 3:18 GMT

    India have done quite well against Australia's third-choice bowling attack. Dhoni must be a genius.

  • Jay on January 28, 2016, 1:34 GMT

    Chappelli acts as if he's a self-ordained "permanent guest host" of cricket: raising dodgy issues with self-contradictory & flip-flopping columns. In his topsy-turvy cricket worldview, Ian reverse-sweeps Cook into "now a successful international captain." What a Switcheroo! So absurd is Ian's half-baked theory of "use-by-date" for captains. As if they are a disposable grocery item that must be consumed by its expiration date. Whoops. Just ask Cook. Thank God, ECB selectors did not heed Chappelli. Nor should Indian selectors. He's made Dhoni his "punching bag." In his last "Steven Smith v MS Dhoni" column, Ian conjures Smith to likely "land the knockout punch." Really? The 5 ODIs were so close & competitive, call it a "good heavyweight bout" with Smith edging by on points in 15 rounds. Only to see Dhoni "rope-a-dope" Smith in the last 2 short form games. Chappelli lives in danger as it raises a serious oxymoronic issue: "You are overstaying your time as permanent guest host," Ian!!

  • Ganesh Shenoy on January 27, 2016, 19:59 GMT

    look who's talking... one brother destroyed Sir Sourav Ganguly and not other one is behind MSD

  • Gazi on January 27, 2016, 8:50 GMT

    @IAMGOD.Yeah bro on the spot.Before last Ashes Ian Chappell said England can't win Ashes under Cook's captaincy,and the rest they say is history.The Irony for Chappell is,he predicted Cook could be kicked out of the England team midway through the Ashes or after it,but it was their WC winning captain Micheal Clarke who announced his retirement during the Ashes after losing the urn to England with a game to go.

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