Former England captain Mike Brearley, one of the sharpest cricketing minds to have played the game, reckons that Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s captaincy and wicket-keeping is not up to Test standard.
Brearley, writing in his column for ‘The Times’, said India have been a disappointment in the Test series even though their bowling has throughout been energetic and often skillful.
“In three of the past four Tests, including the one at Lord’s won by India, the pitches have been designed to suit England, and to test India’s batsmen, but much of the rest of their play, including slip fielding, has been, for the last three matches, poor,” the former England skipper said.
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“Mahendra Singh Dhoni has batted with skill and courage, standing out above the rest. He seems able in his batting and in captaincy to put much of the past behind him, and to avoid touchy or petulant reactions,” Brearley said.his
“But his wicketkeeping is not up to Test standard. Nor, I think is his captaincy,” he said.
Brearley also slammed India’s selection vagaries, saying the team has not seemed able to make sane and consistent judgments about the value of Ravindra Jadeja, Ravichandran Ashwin and Stuart Binny.
“Binny played in three Tests, was clearly not rated by his captain as a bowler and cut a sad and solitary figure on the field,” he said.
Terming Jadeja as a “poor man’s Monty Panesar”, Brearley said Ashwin was a better bowler and not only brought some skill as an attacking spinner but is also one of India’s more effective batsmen.
The Indian batting was a also a big let down with the top-order faltering consistently on grassy English pitches.
Brearley though was more sympathetic than critical for the Indian batsmen.
“And what of India’s high-calibre batting? I have a lot of sympathy for them. They have come up against really top-quality seam and swing bowling on the grassiest set of pitches I can remember,” he said.
“Gautam Gambhir came in for a tough assignment and not looked up to it. India would have regretted leaving out Shikhar Dhawan, who at least looked capable of scoring some boundaries. Murali Vijay has performed to the best of his ability throughout. Cheteshwar Pujara and Virat Kohli have been the big disappointments, Kohli in particular,” he added.