With no clear heir apparent around, asking for the resignation of MS Dhoni and the rest of the coaching staff is far from pragmatic. And it also lacks imagination. However, someone needs to put name tags on the decisions made on this disastrous tour and follow it up with an honest cricketing audit. Fingers will be pointed, excuses will be given and the blame will be passed around. But when all that is done behind closed doors it’ll be worth it.
The expected finding of the scrutiny could just be this: Dhoni doesn’t only need a pair of helping hands, he needs an authoritative, expressive and opinionated cricketing brain by his side. And it’s tempting to suggest that Team India needs a coach who isn’t afraid to crack the whip once in a while. Not Greg Chappell, of course, but someone in his mould. Someone who could imbibe all his rights and leave out the wrongs.
This series has shown that Dhoni can’t be trusted with the entire bunch of house keys when it comes to Test matches. He has too much on his plate, plus he seems to lack the bandwidth to understand a game that spreads over five days. He has proved to be a slow-learner when it comes to cricket’s most challenging format.
At Lord’s, with the experience of being at the helm for a little over five years, Dhoni the Test captain was finally born. That was his first away win without those legends of the game. His plan to ask Ishant Sharma to bowl short at the English batsmen, and his conviction to stick with the plan even when it didn’t work, took India to a historic win. After a long wait, the captain finally got a hang of leading in the longer version.
But then, in the midst of taking baby steps, he fumbled and fell. In a team without seniors he came across as the lone decision-maker with no real Group of Minsters. Not one for meetings and consultations, he took most calls independently — including setting the field for his bowlers. Stubbornly in some cases.
Those around him say that there are times when no one on the field understands what is going on in his mind. Those curious field positions and unconventional bowling changes that were seen during the series weren’t worked out in the battle-room before a game or decided through consensus. It was an instinctive captain reacting to a situation. The pundits in the commentary box often got frustrated trying to understand Dhoni’s plans. Eventually, they all gave up. The 3-1 series verdict shows that the Indian captain wasn’t charting new course, but rather dragging his feet aimlessly continued…