Saturday, August 13, 2011

Time to channel the inner Dhoni

Dear MS Dhoni,

Plenty of knees will be jerking helter-skelter. Don't let that get to you. (Though, of all the captains India has had since I have been following the sport, you appear to be the one who is best equipped to deal with the highs and lows of being captain).

You've captained exactly half (30) of the Test matches you have played (60), which let's us have a wonderful exercise in comparative stat-play.

If they say your batting has become worse since you became captain, tell them this:
As a captain, you've scored 1800 runs at an average of 45 with 3 centuries and 14 fifties, strike rate 58.
As a non-captain, you've scored 1422 runs at an average of 33 with 1 century and 9 fifties, strike rate 62.

If they say, your captaincy sucks and you have put up a good record by beating up on a couple of teams, tell them this:
You have registered Test victories against 7 different nations (Zimbabwe and Pakistan are missing but you've never captained against them). In those victories you average over 56 runs an inning.

The fellow you are most compared to in the captaincy stakes, won 21 Tests in 49 matches as captain. In those 21 wins, Sourav Ganguly was able to register a Test win against 8 different nations (New Zealand escaped giving him the full monty).

Just as winning a game or two did not make you a good captain, losing a match or three does not make you a bad captain either. What you do need to do is to be prepared to take come heard decisions. If folks are under-prepared or injured, do not carry them into the game. If folks are not in form and are struggling, don't just bring them into the squad because they have taken 400+ Test wickets.

And even as I write that, show folks this bit of information:
Here are the overall analyses of two bowlers in this series
Graeme Swann: 73 overs, 7 maidens, 321 runs, 4 wickets, economy rate: 4.38
Harbhajan Singh: 69.4 overs, 5 maidens, 287 runs, 2 wickets, economy rate: 4.11

As you no doubt know, Graeme Swann's thrashing from the Indians is not receiving the press that Economy Singh's failures are. And that has to do with the outstanding support that Swann is receiving from the 3 fast bowlers in his team.

If Sehwag is not fully fit, don't play him in the 4th Test.  Based on how he was fielding, I don't think he is fully  fit, but that's just an observation of mine from afar.  Play Pragyan Ojha in the next Test.  None of the spinners are doing well, might as well try someone who will keep the runs down from one end, build up some pressure, and relieve the work load of the swing bowlers.  (And it will not hurt to remind Kevin Pietersen that he has problems against left-arm spin).

Above all, there's no need to press the panic button.  There's plenty of cricket left in this year for the team and one series does not make or break what you've accomplished over a few years.  Let the players who need to refocus, get healthy, or get fit do so on their own time and not in the midst of a Test match.

Oh, the next time you win the toss in a Test match at Lord's, bat first.


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