Why it makes sense to have different captains for ODIs and Tests

The recent results in overseas (and also domestic) test matches have again led me to think that we need different captains for the longer and shorter versions of the game of Cricket. There is no questioning the commitment of MSD– Maverick Singh Dhoni. But the facts, recent records and his own admittance shows that he is not fit to lead the team in the longer versions of the game. And to prevent fists of fury from some of my readers, I have reasons to prove.

One, remember when he won the inaugural T20 world cup for India? He was given a team sans the big names and players with international experience except Sehwag and Harbhajan. Every one else including Dhoni himself was either new or still very fresh at international scene. They were all domestic players, the Ranji class. Besides it was the first T20 world cup. No team knew the best strategy. So every one played to their potential without being too much into the ‘strategy’ thing. There were no egos to be buttered, no conflicts to be resolved. Just 3 hours of pure, cheeky cricket. Dhoni thrived (and eventually mastered the art).

Two, remember his innings of 183 not out very early in his career? Dhoni, to me, looks like a warrior with a cool head. He believes in individual brilliance than team games. T20 is about individual brilliance. Misbah ul Haq had almost single handedly won the world cup for Pakistan. But he goofed up at crucial junctures in both semis and finals. And we won the world cup. Even in the ODI world cup, he stepped up, said I want to hit the winning runs… and did. But was there a strategy for including or not including Piyush Chawla or Sree Santh? I wonder.

Three, ODIs and T20s are about quick decision making while tests are about patience and perseverance. Dhoni, to me, is a “I knock you out with one punch” guy. But that strategy can win fights not battles. To win battles, you need to plan your future, even if it is at the cost of few losses. Dhoni always accepted whatever team was given to him and played with it. He won the fights, but lost the battles… most of them. He hardly introduced young players, and didn’t stand by some of them who he managed to introduce (read Rohit, Pujara, Rahane, Mukund, Varun Aaron etc.) To build a world beating team, he needs to choose his players.

Remember the battle of Troy? I can compare Dhoni to Hector, prince of Troy. He managed to fend off the might of Sparta with astute, but short term strategies. Every one knew Troy couldn’t be a world beater… and they eventually lost to Sparta. But Hector is still known as one of the best warriors. Dhoni too is one of the greatest players India has had. But all his successors (Rahul, Anil Kumble or Ganguly) were all better test captains than him, sans Sachin Tendulkar. Without hurting any one’s sentiments, Sachin is (and will remain) the greatest batsman in the world. But he was equally bad captain.

India plays the next test series only in September 2012. I hope we find a worthy head to lead us in Tests while Mahi continues to pour success in the ODIs and T20s. Amen!