There has been needless controversy regarding Mahendra Dhoni's comments on what he thinks of the seniors in the team. As a captain, he has the right to speak his mind on matters that involve performance. There is nothing wrong if Dhoni wishes to take credit for backing youngsters. But I would say the only sore point was his timing. It was wrong.
Cricket is a game of timing. You have to time your performance to get the best results and here Dhoni may have erred. I don't know why he chose this occasion to air his feelings but having done so, I would say that one should try and read what Dhoni wished to convey rather than just slam the young captain.
I have had the privilege of spending close to 45 days with Dhoni during our tour of Zimbabwe and Kenya. I saw him from very close quarters and I must say that he believed in speaking his mind. I was very impressed with his clarity of thoughts. This is what a captain needs to do. He demonstrated that his planning was in place and he knew where his strength lay.
All good captains have spoken their mind to send strong messages. If Dhoni has shown the character to back the players he needs, I think his stance needs to be appreciated. I am sure he never wanted to hurt the seniors.
Here, I would like to congratulate Anil Kumble. He showed maturity by putting things in perspective. There is no doubt that the Indian team is sensible enough to understand Dhoni's intentions. I am happy that the BCCI also took a strong stand. Matters could have deteriorated because the media had blown it up. Here I think the media also needs to play a responsible role. In the end, sanity prevailed and the focus has shifted to cricket against South Africa.
These are good times for Indian cricket and it is also good that Gary Kirsten is taking over as coach at the appropriate juncture after the team's wonderful showing in Australia. The Indian team won the hearts of their fans by playing high quality cricket and the onus is now on the players to maintain consistency.
Having his debut series as coach against his own national team would give Kirsten an opportunity to assess the Indian players properly. He has a great side to work with, a right mixture of youth and experience. However, let us not raise our expectations because a lot was said when John Wright and Greg Chappell had taken over the job.
Kirsten would have new strategies, though I don't know how different they would be from his predecessors. It should not cause any concern because I know he reads the game superbly. He is a great guy to interact with and the fact that he has played with some of the Indian players would be a huge advantage. He knows how to tackle the players and would also have to tackle the media.
Kirsten would do well to remember that Chappell tried to change the system and it was he who got changed. The initial success was not followed in matches later on and that put pressure on the coach and the players. I have known Kirsten and always found him a dedicated and sincere cricketer. I am sure he would bring dignity to the job.
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