Axing Dhoni will put us back by 5 years: Dilip Vengsarkar

It has been an interesting week for Indian cricket. The lows at the T20 World Cup seem to have suddenly turned into a campaign to strip Mahendra Singh Dhoni of his ODI and T20 captaincy. If ever that happens, it would put Indian cricket back by five years. It would be nothing but a knee-jerk reaction.

Everybody makes mistakes, including you and me. The media has hyped it further. But there is no need to get carried away by all that. To my mind, Dhoni has been amongst the most positive, intelligent and cool cricketers of the current generation. Besides, he possesses a very good temperament. His behavior on and off the field has been impeccable too. He is a key player in all three formats of the game – T20, ODIs and Tests. There’s nobody better than him in the Indian team who can lead the side. Why do people forget that less than a month ago, he had led Chennai Super Kings to victory in the IPL.

It was during my tenure as chairman of the national selection committee in 2007 that Dhoni was appointed ODI captain. That was also the first time when Indian cricket had two captains for two different formats. Sachin Tendulkar was the obvious choice to lead in all formats but since he declined, the Test captaincy was handed to Anil Kumble, another seasoned campaigner. Since Anil had announced his retirement from ODIs, we had to look out for a new leader. Dhoni fitted the bill perfectly. Here was a good Test cricketer, who could adapt quickly to all the formats of the game. Remember, he was not even a captain of his zone then. But we had a vision. Dhoni with his outstanding abilities as captain and player justified the faith and complimented our thinking. See how his career graph has zoomed after he became captain.

The two-captain theory was a necessity then, not now. You can’t have a fixation for such theories. The question that needs to be asked is: is the situation so bad to warrant such a change? The answer to that is a big no. Besides, I am not for a Test captain playing under an ODI captain. It is not fair, and I feel strongly about it.

The national selectors should show spunk and rest players who are not in form and lack fitness. They should ensure that there is no comfort zone, where players take their places for granted. There should be a lot of options, competition for spots in the Indian team. That is the way ahead, especially keeping the 2011 World Cup (50 overs) in mind.

Media reports suggest that Virender Sehwag’s name is being considered for ODI & T20 captaincy. I have not seen him lead a side, so it is not fair on my part to comment on his abilities as a captain, though there is no doubt about his abilities as a great batsman. What I do know is that Sehwag has not been part of the last two T20 World Cups. My vote will always go to a player who fights out in the middle and gives his hundred per cent in every game.

Does anybody remember that we won the first T20 World Cup tour because we had enough time to prepare for it despite not having much experience in that format? The hype created by that success was largely instrumental in making the Indian Premier League-1 a massive hit. The IPL games are indeed high pressure and high intensity games and it does take a toll. Of course, there are foreign players in the mix but no team is affected as much as the Indian team because nearly 90 Indian cricketers take part in the IPL. Thus, not only our top players but even our bench strength ends up fatigued. [timesofindia]

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