MS Dhoni and the art of Steve Waugh

MS Dhoni and the art of Steve Waugh

Andy Bichel says Dhoni’s captaincy is a bit Steve Waugh-like. He sits back and let the players do their thing.

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Andy Bichel says Dhoni’s captaincy is a bit Steve Waugh-like. He sits back and let the players do their thing. (Source: Reuters)

The interview is over and you almost apologetically ask Andy Bichel about his 7/20 and the 73-run 9th wicket stand against England in the 2003 World Cup. You know he has been out on the road, moving across Australia with the Cup to promote the event, and fear that he would put fingers in his ears on hearing ‘7/20′. It seems he has given up, Bichel smiles and says, “You play for 16 years, you bowl million balls but you get remembered for those 10 overs.” Sportingly, he goes on to give a very abridged version of the story. But before that in a long chat with The Indian Express, the former Australia medium-pacer, who is also CSK’s bowling coach, speaks about the dos and don’t for teams at this World Cup plus the Men in Blue he trains at Chennai Super Kings. (Full Coverage| Points table| Fixtures)

Relationship with Dhoni

My relationship with MS is to up the skill of the boys in training. For MS, he has to ask them to deliver a certain skill at a particular time of the game. If they can’t deliver that skill, he will change. I think initially he gives the bowlers the reins to do what they want to do. He has always done. That’s what he did with Zaheer Khan and Harbhajan Singh at the last World Cup.

Hard for the captain

My job is to make them deliver the skill for the role they play in the team. If you are opening the bowling it is a different skill, it is different for middle overs or bowling at the end and bowling to the fields you are given. When you are a coach on the sidelines, you want to know what’s happening out there. But you know it is a good relationship.

See it is a bit frustrating at times with the field MS sets, see you can’t control everything from the sidelines as a coach. With the ball going everywhere… I think the game has changed so much… I think it must be getting hard for the captain as well.

Making a comparison 


His captaincy is a bit Steve Waugh-like. He sits back a little bit and lets the players do their thing. He backs his players and I think that’s the important part and Steve had that. That is why MS has been successful. He has that strong belief in his players and he tells players that you are in the team for this and now you use your skills

No long meetings

He is not a meeting man at all. We only have team get togethers. He speaks a little bit but now a little bit more as he is getting older. Which is great as he has this great cricket brain. Steve Waugh didn’t say things often, but when he said the boys hung on to those words. For me, it is important to talk on the field when things are not going right and you wouldn’t want to go on for long. So you pull everyone together and I think that’s a good trait to have. He is not afraid to stop the game and really pull his troops together and say this is not working we need to do something better. I think these days the game has changed and even in the Steve Waugh era it was all behind closed doors or at the end of a session or during a drinks break. Today, everything in the game happens so quickly that it has to be done now, at the end of say the 17th over. Even if it is not a drinks break you pull the troops together. MS has done that a number of times.

Short ball: Raina ‘weakness’, Mohit’s strength

At times he (Suresh Raina) needs to put it (the pull) away, that is in the early part of his innings. But he can play the short ball. I think Michael Bevan had the same stigma and I played against Bevan at the SCG and Gabba and he got runs and he didn’t have a problem. Look, if Ambrose gets you out with a short ball, it doesn’t mean you have an issue and if you look at Mark Taylor and Mathew Hayden… they all had a thing for the short ball.

His Test record

When he came in for the Sydney Test, the series was done. It was a hard environment to come in. India were already down on their energy, he tries to come up with the goods but ends up with a pair. It was a real test for him coming late in the series. I think he would have loved to start from the first Test. That way you get a real feel of things, but that didn’t happen.

Where does he stand

He is an amazing T20 player and he is a fantastic 50-over cricketer in terms of the way he hits the ball, where he hits the ball and the way he can really win games all alone. Not many people can do that, so if a guy is that good, he can certainly play Test cricket. It is probably how he is used in that role. So how many Tests has he played? 17 or 18? Steve Waugh took 26 Tests before he got his 100, Adam Gilchrist made his debut at 29, Hussey was 31, so look he has got plenty of time. He didn’t get opportunities and here we are talking about the short ball. If he had been playing Test matches in India he wouldn’t be having too much of a problem.

Mohit’s rise and rise

I have worked with Mohit (Sharma) a lot, I pretty much found Mohit. See his skills have come up big time. I mean the short ball, good length ball, slower ball, yorker, there are four. When to use them is an important part and he is developing that side of his game. Given the conditions he has a good bouncer. He is a bit smaller and he skids on and these conditions really work for him. I say to him in India too, even in the IPL, he has to use the bouncer even though it is flat. It is all about execution and where the ball is getting delivered. If it is chest high then it is no good. If it is too high it is no good. It has to be on the money. And that is the part he has learned. Probably, I should see him longer, but I see him only for 12 to 13 weeks a year.

Backing himself

I have been with Mohit for four IPL seasons, he used to really back himself and that’s the part we liked about him initially. He is a top bloke and you want him in your team. He is a hard worker, never late for anything. He is always the first there, he is always working on his batting, always working on his fielding, he is a real delight to have around in the group. He is a coach’s delight, he is tough guy.

How to bowl in Australia

In 2011, the big play was reverse swing. That wouldn’t play a part in this World Cup. And we have got swinging conditions around the country. The use of the new ball will be the key. This Saturday will be the real test when Australia play New Zealand. So we have got Mitchell Starc, Trent Bolt, Tim Southee, Mitchell Johnson and it could be just that three or four over period at the start of the game that will crack it open. It will also be interesting how the batsmen go about. In case they get over that period, it can work. Like with Finch the other night. Broad and Anderson were bowling well early, a couple of catches dropped and he got through that and he went to score a hundred in 35 overs.

Five-pronged attack

That fifth bowler is important and how he is used and who are they. For teams like Australia, there are a number of blokes who can bowl. There are Watson, Marsh and Maxwell to fill up. Suresh Raina hasn’t bowled well in this tournament, he bowled a little bit in Adelaide, but he is the guy who can come in for India. The teams who aren’t relying on the out-and-out five specialists, they will have an advantage because they can change it up and move it around.

Batting: Leaving it late

They can. But you need to complement it with getting the twos and the singles. And I think someone like James Flaukner has done it so well in Australia. MS Dhoni is a great guy to manipulate the ball around the field, especially when he first goes in and then there are those who could go out there and hit. You can score heavily at the back end.


Leaving it late. Well, it all comes down to the first 15 overs and how you play them. It is usually the old-style cricket where you keep wickets in hand. You need batsmen in the shed to give those in the middle the confidence that even if we lose two wickets we can still go for it. The first 15 overs shape the outcome of the total. Sometimes it could go to 300 and if you have wickets in hand it can go to 320 or 340 as it did for Australia the other night. In Australia you can get there without a fantastic start. The important things are wickets.