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!

One thought on “Why it makes sense to have different captains for ODIs and Tests

  1. I am going to be a bit critical here, Mayur and I am sure you would appreciate that…

    You begin with saying that Dhoni is not fit to lead the team in longer versions of the game ( the “battles” and not the “fights”, off course ) and you are going to give reasons for that… interesting and I read on…

    1. You say that T20 is not a team game which test Cricket is…you also say that Dhoni has “mastered” the art of winning games that do not require strategy and require only individual brilliance. Can you please tell your poor readers how you can “Master” the art of “replicating” success when you don’t have a “formula” for it. I am sure you have an answer to this, Mayur ….
    And also no egos to be buttered???? Yuvraj, the prince, can you think of someone worse than Yuvraj to deal with and especially during a situation where he would have been the natural choice for captaincy ( after Dravid )

    2. Misbah-ul-Haq won the T20 WC in 2007 for India….. buooooooy…brilliant……..likewise you may also want to recollect why we won 1983 WC… One stupid shot by Sir Viv Richards not respecting the fielding abilities of Kapil Dev…

    I am sure you will find numerous such reasons how the “lucky” Dhoni managed to win 2 IPL titles, 1 CLT20 title, many ODI series and by the way also 2 test series leveled against SA, one home and one away ( no Indian captain in the past has managed to level a series in South Africa ) , One 2-0 win against Australia ( 2010, not so long ago, dude )… Whatever it is, I am sure in every match you will find reasons for Dhoni being just “lucky”

    3. Dhoni accepted whatever team was given to him…. may be “yes” …but I am yet to see an Indian captain who has a “say” in selection process. Remember, Azhar had once openly blamed the selection process for not even inviting the captain for the meetings… I don’t know if it has changed since Ganguly took over…but at least Dhoni has built a team for ODI’s with solid influence from his side….I am sure you won’t deny that….

    And if you seriously think about any form of Cricket – be in limited overs or the longer version )- The events, the outcome, the critical success factors and Key performance indices ( you love these terms, Mayur ) .. you would know that Cricket is “not” a team game and it is just an aggregation of individual performances…. to Illustrate just imagine the sequence of events from the time a ball is delivered to the point it is “dead”…. it’s one event after another and is influenced by only one person at a time… these events are mutually exclusive ….. I am sure you won’t deny that the dream team of test Cricket ( World’s best eleven ) definitely have higher chances to win than world’s no 1 test team…unfortunately there hasn’t been such an event to prove this right.

    And last but not the least, your readers are pretty keen to hear from you what has been the performance in test Cricket ( results not individual scores ) of Dhoni’s predecessors… I mean, if you are taking the pains of writing “management philosophy” and “Greek Mythology” you might as well enlighten us with FACTS

    Enough for now… 🙂

    ( Not a Dhoni fan but certainly a non nonsense cricket lover )

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