Dravid: Dhoni brought a calm to captaincy
Giving up captaincy will put MS Dhoni under pressure to keep performing in limited-overs cricket, but he will remain an “invaluable” member of India’s side if he manages to do so, Rahul Dravid has said. Speaking to ESPNcricinfo, Dravid, the former India captain and current coach of the India A and India Under-19 sides, said Dhoni’s experience and knowledge would be “priceless” to Virat Kohli, who will most likely take over the captaincy, if he continues to earn his place in the side with bat and wicketkeeping gloves.
“There is no doubt that someone of MS Dhoni’s experience and ability, when playing well, is invaluable to the side,” Dravid said. “That’s the kind of experience and knowledge and ability, under pressure especially. It is not easy to find and not easy to get.
“The question obviously remains that you need to earn your place in the team and you need to do it with performances. So at his best and performing really well, a guy like MS Dhoni is invaluable to India’s one-day team, especially in the big tournaments coming up. But I think that’ll also be decided by his own performances and his own ability. I think now he’ll really be judged on how he performs and can he hold his place in the side purely in terms of his wicket-keeping and batting. And that’ll be up to him.
“And I guess if you’re Virat Kohli, you’ll actually be hoping that MS Dhoni does really well and is able to hold on to his place. Because you would like that kind of experience performing well in the team. Just that knowledge would be priceless for Virat Kohli to have.”
Dravid felt the timing of Dhoni’s decision was “really right”, since it gave Kohli plenty of time to mould the ODI side and build towards the 2019 World Cup.
“[Dhoni’s decision was] probably not that much of a surprise, in the sense that he probably knew that the time was sooner rather than later,” Dravid said. “There was talk of him continuing till the Champions Trophy with only one one-day series before that.
“But I think, from his perspective, if he didn’t see himself continuing till the next World Cup, he got the timing really right because if he doesn’t see himself as a long-term prospect as captain then I think it is a good time to let Virat Kohli take over and have enough time to be able to build a one-day team to his liking for the next World Cup.”
Rahul Dravid played 35 Tests, 17 ODIs and one T20I under MS Dhoni’s captaincy © Getty Images
Dravid, whose decision to resign from the captaincy in 2007 paved the way for Dhoni to take over, said it would take Dhoni some time to get used to playing under someone else, but didn’t think it would be a major issue.
“I don’t think it’s very difficult,” Dravid said. “From personal experience as well, it takes a little bit of getting used to and adjusting – of not setting the field and not running things – but I think you get used to it. And Dhoni spent a lot of time as a player and not having captained before he started captaining in 2007. So I don’t think it should take him too much time to get used to it. And knowing the kind of person he is and the personality he is, I don’t see it as too much of a problem.”
Dhoni’s place in India’s batting order has been a point of debate over the last year or so, with his finishing skills seemingly on the wane and a set of younger middle-order batsmen coming into the side. When asked where Dhoni should bat in limited-overs cricket, Dravid said the more pressing issue was where the less-experienced players batted.
“There’s going to be a few young players around that one-day team and finding the right positions for them would be more important than Dhoni, because I think that Dhoni playing at his best can adapt to any situation.”
Asked what Dhoni’s biggest contribution as captain was, Dravid pointed to the “sense of calm” he brought to the job.
“Indian captaincy, there can be a lot happening around in Indian cricket – emotions can go up and down,” Dravid said. “For me he was able to maintain a calm and a balance through all of it. Which was his unique ability and his unique strength. And I think Indian cricket benefitted a lot from that.”
History, Dravid said, would remember Dhoni as India’s most successful captain.
“What else was there for him to achieve? Most number of Test wins for India, number 1 ranking in Test cricket, T20 World Cup, Champions’ Trophy, the World Cup, most number of wins as one-day captain. I’m not great at stats but he must be at the top of every statistical list on what an Indian captain has achieved,” Dravid said. “History will remember him as India’s most successful captain. And someone who really, in his time as an Indian captain, took the team and the game forward in this country.”
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Source: ESPN Crickinfo