A day ahead of the start of a long tour in England under tough conditions, Indian captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni said on Wednesday that quality players should not be dumped on the basis of one poor series and they should be backed to return to form.
“I think it’s very important to back players. It does not matter whether he is the captain of the side or a batsman or a bowler,” Dhoni said at his first press conference after arriving in England.
With an aim to bury the ghosts of a disastrous tour of 2011, a new-look Indian cricket team would be eyeing a positive start to their two-and-a-half-month long tour of England when they take on Leicestershire in a three-day practice game starting Thursday.
Asked about his opposite number Alastair Cook whose poor form played a major role in England’s first Test series defeat to Sri Lanka on home soil, Dhoni said he expected the home side to back the beleaguered captain.
Cook, who played a major role in England’s 4-0 rout of India in 2011, was out of sorts against Sri Lanka.
“A bad phase is something that every player goes through and you just need to back players at the right point because when you are getting those big hundreds and two-hundreds then everybody will be on your side,” said Dhoni.
“What’s important is for the media to realise what they were saying about him the last time we were here how well he has performed.
“But the real test of character is when your fans or the media or your team-mates are supporting you when you are not doing well.”
India coach Duncan Fletcher was in charge of England when he handed Cook his Test debut in 2006 and he said the Essex opener has got the mental strength to handle the pressure he is under.
“I agree with MS. Too many people are happy to knock you off your pedestal. When they go through those bad times they keep knocking them and that’s when they need the support,” he said.
“If you had looked at our batters and picked them on their mental aspect one of them would be that they’ve got to be determined and stubborn I think Alastair has got that, and proven with the runs that he has got, that he’s a very, very good opening batter
and it’s like everyone you go through some bad times and some good times”.
“I think Alastair is a very determined individual, which I think most opening bats have to be,” Fletcher said.
India play five back-to-back Tests, five ODIs and one T20 International during the long tour which ends on September 7. India failed to register a single win in their last tour in 2011 having lost the Test series 0-4, the five-match ODI series 0-3 and also the lone T20 International.