In 2008, when Anil Kumble decided to quit Test captaincy and retire from the game following a finger injury during the home series against Australia, the then selection committee headed by Dilip Vengsarkar handed over the reins to Mahendra Singh Dhoni. Six years down the line, Dhoni has become India’s most successful captain with 28 wins in 58 Tests. At the same time, his record outside the subcontinent is abysmal with only four Test wins to his credit.
Another poor show at the Oval on Sunday evening put the relatively young side and its captain under the scanner.
Vengsarkar feels Dhoni might have past his sell-by date as a Test captain. There’s, however, still no one ready to replace him.
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“I must say his (Test) captaincy has been very poor of late, especially in this series. Then again, who would you replace him with? We don’t have a replacement available,” said Vengsarkar, speaking to The Indian Express.
“Not only the captain, there’s a dearth of quality Test talent at the moment, which is the real tragedy of Indian cricket. The selectors can’t be held responsible. They didn’t have other options apart from those 18 players who were picked for England. This was the best available squad but it failed to perform,” Vengsarkar added.
The former chief selector also felt that the lack of sufficient preparation for the challenging tour also resulted in India unable to sustain the intensity. “The team wasn’t prepared for a five-Test series overseas. The players, most of them are very inexperienced, had about a couple of weeks off after the IPL and played only two first-class matches before the first Test in England. Preparation was inadequate and BCCI must look into this. You can’t win a Test series away from home without proper preparation,” said the former India captain – one of most successful batsmen in English conditions with three centuries at Lord’s.
What about coach Duncan Fletcher? He took charge three years ago when India were the No.1 Test team in the world. The 65-year-old Zimbabwean has presided over a spectacular fall in fortunes overseas. India have lost 13 overseas Tests under his charge and also suffered a home defeat against England. Does he deserve to continue as India coach?
Too long a rope
“The BCCI must review Fletcher’s performance with immediate effect. He has been given too long a rope but where are the results? He and his team of support staff owe us an explanation about why the players keep repeating mistakes. It’s BCCI’s prerogative to decide whether they will continue with Fletcher. We don’t want a knee-jerk reaction, but Fletcher must be questioned. If the Board doesn’t take up the cudgels now, then god save Indian cricket,” Vengsarkar said.