Ex-New Zealand skipper Stephen Fleming backed under-fire Mahendra Singh Dhoni as still the best option to lead India in Tests notwithstanding the squad’s 1-3 defeat to England, saying it was pointless to make a change without addressing problems plaguing the team.
Fleming, who also coaches the Dhoni-led IPL team Chennai Super Kings, was of the view that there appeared to be no viable alternative to the flamboyant cricketer.
“It is fine just to say that the captain has to go, but if you are giving the problem to someone else without a strong solution then you are just papering over the problem,” he told reporters at an New Zealand Education event in Mumbai.
“But how far you go with that will be a Board decision. That comes down to what the succession plan is. Who is next in line, who is putting pressure on Dhoni?” asked the 41-year-old.
“He (Dhoni) may still be the man for the job but there might need to be some changes within and without. Those questions need to be asked rather than the emotional black and white (response) he has got to go,” said the former opener.
Dhoni’s captaincy has been criticised by several former cricketers following the team’s humiliating defeat in the five-game rubber and Fleming agreed the wicketkeeper-batsman was under pressure following the dismal result.
“He is got to be under pressure as the leader of the side. The dramatic turn of form (of team which led 1-0 and then lost the last three games without a fight) does warrant those questions. His form with the bat was good, but certainly the captain always gets looked at when the series goes wrong.
“I cannot speculate in terms of his place. What I can answer with my experience is that when your team is not playing well, you are under pressure as a captain. How far that pressure goes and how long it goes is an issue for your Board or decision-makers,” Fleming said.
“Maybe a Dhoni under pressure is still your best option. He has got the experience and I know he has got the respect of the dressing room – they are two pretty important ingredients. What you need is the results to go in your favour and then everything is right,” the veteran of over 100 Tests added.
Fleming was surprised at how quickly the fortunes of the two rival captains in the series – Dhoni and Alastair Cook – changed after India won the Lord’s game for a 1-0 lead.
“If you look at Cook at the start of the series you could say he was exactly under the same kind of pressure which Dhoni is now. For it to reverse so quickly is somewhat astonishing and that is what people are trying to get their heads around… how quickly the series has changed and quite rightly are asking continued…