Posts Tagged Dhoni

Indian cricket’s ‘Special one ‘on cusp of a treble of world championships!

By Samir Pai

There is no doubt that MS Dhoni epitomizes the phrase ‘destiny’s child’ as far as India cricket is concerned. A rustic background from a region that is not a natural breeding ground for young cricketing talents; Dhoni emerged from the back lanes of Indian domestic cricket to evolve into one of the finest captain/ player, in the limited overs format of the game.

 Easily one of the best finishers of the game in the ODI format, Dhoni’s success at the game is not only confined to him being a brilliant player, but also the strategic head of the side, as its captain. His rise in stature as a leader since the fairytale World T20 campaign in South Africa 2007, has been phenomenally meteoric !

While his test record in the recent past has taken away a little sheen from his remarkable achievements as a captain; there is no denying the fact that in the limited over format & subcontinent conditions, Dhoni is the undisputed king.

If Dhoni & boys claim top honours at the forthcoming T20 world edition in Sri Lanka, he surely will become India’s best limited overs captains of all times.  After all it will be no mean feat to win three world championships!

However unlike the ODI World Cup which India won in emphatic style, the World T20 campaign is going to be a lot tougher for Dhoni & Co, primarily owing to the precarious nature of the T20 format. Such is the format that it makes it a far more equitable competition amongst competing teams! T20 as a format also negates to a large extent the advantage enjoyed by sub continent sides, in their own backyard, over their otherwise formidable rivals like Australia, England & South Africa ! Also the fact that many of the top international players of the world, play in the T20 leagues in the sub continent, including the IPL ; acclimatizes them to the playing conditions far better than in other formats of the game.  How Dhoni counters the competition will make an interesting watch!

MS Dhoni’s leadership style is almost akin to ‘brawler’ style boxer, who soaks in lot of punches & punishment from his opponent before finally counter attacking in the end with powerful punches to deliver the fatal knockout blow.  As seen in the recently concluded T20 verses New Zealand, Dhoni waited till the very last to deliver his final onslaught! There he was unsuccessful!  However record shows that this strategy has worked more often for him than not! The origins of such a strategy can also be inferred to his team composition being lop sided in favour of batsmen, weakening an already thin bowing line up.  Interesting to observe during  the T20 world, would be to see if Dhoni modifies his composition to strengthen his bowling line up with an additional bowler like Harbhajan ( also a decent lower middle order batsman in T20 format) or remains rigid with 7 batsmen/4 bowler composition!

Dhoni”s leadership in cricket is almost comparable to another titled ‘special one’ from a different sport, football- Jose Mourinho!  Both are canny, street-smart, outspoken and often successfully in blunting more attacking & free flowing opponents with effective defensive tactics and supreme man management skills.   Dhoni as a player is a different story , but Dhoni as a leader will surely seal his name in the annals  of Indian Cricket, as its greatest limited over captain, if he succeeds in winning is third world championship.

Advertisements

Leave a Comment

Test Cricket should have seprate exclusive operations

As I write this piece, we have witnessed two recent test matches, that prove that when the contest between bat and ball is balanced; test cricket is the most pure form of cricketainment. So the big question, what has the apex body of world cricket ICC and its constituent national bodies, done to promote and propagate the oldest and purest form of cricket forward on the path of growth?. The answer sadly is nothing! All you find is wise administrators making the politically correct statement – test cricket is priority (sic). If test cricket was priority then why is the world championship of tests, postponed for another era!

My assumption is that the czars of cricket administration have never had the confidence that test cricket on its own steam can be a commercially successful product. Their inference is that test cricket is something that is important emotionally , but needs to be compensated by limited overs cricket to survive. The above scenario may not be true for countries like Australia and England, where test cricket still is big. However the financial fulcrum of world cricket , India and its constituent apex body BCCI, operate the test format on low priority. This is what ails test cricket’s growth and needs to be addressed with immediate effect.

I believe that the recent two tests , one featuring australia and south africa and other involving West Indies and India, have been eye openers. If wickets are sporting, the balance of the battle between bat and ball is maintained, we will get entertaining close encounters resulting in high spectator turnout and coinciding higher TV audiences.

If test cricket has to prosper then it should be a stand alone entity, commercially and more importantly in terms of operations. What this would do is remove the complacency from the present set up of cricket administrators , especially from India. There is no doubt in my mind that the present day revenues of Indian cricket establishment comes from IPL and ODIs; the BCCI mandarins treat tests as a honorary format that they need to compensate. There is no sense of initiative or focus as they generate revenue for the tests from the broadcaster, who too treat tests as a necessary evil they need to broadcast, while the bread and butter lies in the shorter formats. The same results in no initiative or mandate to produce sporting wickets, which is imperative to produce a good test cricket product. The present mentality involving test cricket in India, is to produce batting strips that would convert into spinning wonders, day 3 onward – resulting in a win for Indian expected to leave all satisfied. This is far from the truth and certainly not what the average fan wants- he wants a great competitive contest, with of course the emotive rider of India doing well! The proof of the same lies in the significantly higher interest generated in the 3rd test that India drew as compared to the first two tests of the series that India won!

Test cricket fans have to be more vocal in their demands for competitive test match cricket. For the format to take precedence over every other format, it is important for the connoisseur of test cricket to express the need to see competitive test matches. Their voice has to be heard by the top cricket administrators of the world, especially those in India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. And this is only possible when test cricket lovers are not apologetic anymore of their preference and show their strength in terms of numbers . The basis of my write up lies in my belief that the base of test cricket supporters in especially the top 8 test cricket nations of the world, is large enough to play a significant voice in world cricket.

For test cricket to survive and exhibit itself at its best; is to be played on sporting wickets and run pro-actively as an independent operating body. It definitely does not deserve to operate as a subsidized product of the shorter format of the game,. Test cricket connoisseurs have to believe that the format has a big enough fan base to economically survive and prosper on its own. The same can be achieved only when. a separate body is made accountable for test cricket,its growth and success; much like how you have a separate IPL governing council.

What a separate body to govern the longer format of the game also will do is , it will prioritize domestic cricket structures in top nations like India. Look at the interest level amongst the general public for our Ranji trophy structure. Rather than a first class competition, it has languished as a upcoming cricketers development league. That is unfortunate if one considers its glorious past and stories of epic battles fought in its rich history. A separate body would imperatively allocate resources and focus in the promotion of the tournament, as it would the base of the longer format( international test cricket). Similar to what IPL governing council does for T20. More importantly it would be free from distraction of. Having to organize the shorter formats of cricket!

As always my views are based on personal assumptions and gut feelings. I would as always, love to get your feedback along with contrary views, to comprehend the topic better.

Posted with WordPress for BlackBerry.

Leave a Comment

Chennai the new nerve centre of T20 cricket in India.

The mushrooming of league cricket in India especially the Indian Sub continent in form of the ICL & IPL brings new dynamics the game is perceived and viewed by the fans.

Till now serious cricket was confined to only international matches or domestic competitions. Most other formats that were tried in form of super sixes tournaments or super 8s was confined to purely off-season entertainment cricket, therefore restricting the growth of cricket.

To its credit the ICL pioneered the city based format and stressed on the game being played with utmost seriousness by its players. The fact that they created 8 competitive sides with the right mix of domestic and international talent saw to it that level of cricket was at par with International standards.

One of the surprises emerging out of the league format of cricket is the dominance of Chennai across both leagues.

A UK based company (cricket 20.com), which has carried out a comprehensive study on all domestic cricket competitions across the globe has thrown up a few revelations.

And surprise-surprise, the two Chennai teams Chennai Super kings (IPL) and Chennai Superstars (ICL) stand in 5th and 6th position respectively in the top 10 world rankings for T20 teams around the world.

So does this mean a change in order as far as the nursery of Indian cricket is concerned; a shift from Mumbai to Chennai? I guess it would need more than year one to answer the question.

One glaring fact about both the Chennai teams is in the heavy Australian influence on both the teams. The Superstars has Michel Bevan (Coach) & Stuart Law (Captain) at the helm of affairs. On the other hand it is Kepler Wessels (former Australian& South African player, coach) & MS Dhoni (probably the most valuable player in India) at the helm of affairs.

The calming influence that Dhoni brings at the helm of the national team is what one of ICL’s main find R Sathish brings to the Chennai superstars stable, as deputy captain & captain of ICL-India.

While it has been a masterstroke by both Chennai teams to inculcate the Australian way of cricket into their respective city teams; the domestic players from both sides; Vignesh, Badani, Syed & Kumaran ( ICL ) & Ghoni, Balaji, Bhadrinath ( IPL) have raise their hand to be counted as proven performers at the big stage.

I guess the jury is out, the Chennai sides in both leagues have cracked the T20 code and set the bar in terms of performance level & success achieved, now it is for the other cities to follow suit.

Comments (2)

IPL franchisees’ need to check their ego to maintain sanctity of cricket

The BCCI conceptualized the IPL, brought in big bucks, mega deals and high profile ego centric franchisees who were given a free hand to run cricket with proper checks and balances. The cracks are now developing and unless the BCCI nips the problem in the bud, the future of the IPL seems in danger.

I guess too much importance was given to entertainment & celebrity franchisees and this put cricket & its magnificent players on the back burner. This in my personal opinion was a catastrophic mistake as it belittled the cricketers & the core fan base. The BCCI claimed that it was the domestic Indian talent that would be the biggest benefactor of the IPL, but their actions and communication highlighted big-bucks, star player assortments and over enthusiastic franchisees, who were made to feel as the new messiahs of Indian cricket.

How else could you explain the fact that at the half way stage Shahrukh Khan under the after effects of his Chak-de image emerged as the poster boy of the IPL? The significance of the blunder was evident in the fact that the IPL was inclusive of cricket icons like Tendulkar, Ganguly, Dhoni & Dravid.

In their over zealous enthusiasm; the franchisees under their ill advice of their entertainment brief started destroying the sanctity of the game by trespassing dressing rooms  etiquettes, player dugouts and probably team compositions ( how else can one explain packing off domestic players as a cost cutting measure).

I guess the biggest culprit in this whole avoidable episode has been the BCCI as patrons of the game and principle employers of the Indian cricketers they should have imparted their experience of running a sporting product to their enthusiastic franchisee rather than giving them a free hand with running of operations, especially handling players and cricket related issues.

It’s time the BCCI steps in and briefs the franchisees on the do’s & Don’ts:

  1. Stay away from cricketing issues: The winning and loosing of a side is beyond the preview of the franchisee’. The franchisee should only concentrate on promoting the regional identification of the team, stadium audience & endorsement and merchandise deals. I guess they should feel privileged in handling a product which enjoys unparallel brand equity; irrespective of the results of their performance, a Tendulkar , Ganguly , Dravid or Yuvaraj will guarantee you publicity and eyeballs. Winning or loosing is a part of the game and it’s only the egos of pompous franchisees’ like Dr Mallya that has instigated him to make unwarranted statements against some of the biggest names in the sport.
  2. Maintain sanctity: Shahrukh Khan as the self proclaimed ambassador of entertainment with the Kolkata knight riders has been seen crossing the line very often, smoking in the stadium, trespassing team meetings, crossing the boundary line; this Mr. Khan is just not cricket.    It was just a matter of time before those associated with cricket would take notice of this blatant trespass and have rightly cautioned him.

I guess the best answer Shahrukh got was in Mumbai when his act of upstaging the biggest icon of world cricket “Sachin Tendulkar” was met with a vociferous booing from the traditionally rich, cricket fanatic Mumbai public. I guess this is the best reminder to the Chak de star that his reel image of the hockey icon should be restricted to the 70-mm screen and he should take the back seat and let the likes of Ganguly and Dhinda remain in the forefront of the Knight-Ridder campaign.

Leave a Comment