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Dhoni Should Become Test Captain
by Sunil Gavaskar
Sep 23, 2007
The Twenty20 tournament has taken the cricketing world by storm, it seems. What has brought the crowds in is not only the prospect of seeing some big hitting, but also to be able to be part of what is a truly entertaining evening. There’s dancing and music and theme songs of teams and individual players, and there’s so much razzmataaz, that’s its hard to believe it was the genteel game that had begun way back in the 1800s.

True, the bowlers haven’t quite enjoyed it, as it’s almost like slog overs from the word ‘go’ with the difference being that there’s a new ball. That’s why most teams have had a few quiet overs at the start of the innings, but have exploded into action sooner than later. The batting and big hitting apart, the fielding has been electrifying and the running between the wickets quite cheeky, with batsmen being unafraid to take their chances even against good fielders. Its so important not to have dot balls that there’s an element of risk taken just about every ball, and that’s what adds to the excitement.

There’s even more excitement when the bowler bowls a no-ball, for there’s a free hit for the ball after as penalty for the overstepping by the bowler. So, while there have been no-balls bowled, there aren’t as many as in one-day cricket or Test matches. Old-timers were skeptical and the bowling community was up in arms at the penalty of a free hit after the no-ball for overstepping, but what it has done is made bowlers see that they remain in the good books of their skipper and teammates by not bowling them, and it has also helped with the over-rates. Whether it will make a difference in one-day cricket will be seen when the rule comes in from 1st October, but going by the experience of the Twenty20, there will be less no-balls and more innings completed in time than ever before in the fifty-over format of the game.

The pitches in South Africa have been terrific and that has helped provide good cricket by the players as well. It’s such a truism that if good wickets are given then there will invariably be good cricket. Wickets in South Africa have even bounce and the ball comes on to the bat, which allows the batsmen to play without worrying too much about uneven bounce. Where the pitches are heavily loaded in favour of batsmen or for bowlers, then the game can get one-sided and one-dimensional, and thus take away from a good contest between bat and ball, and that’s what the public be it at the ground or at home watching TV want to see. Good pitches provide good cricket. It’s really as simple as that.

South Africa’s exit from the tournament once again at the preliminary stage has once more brought the ‘chokers’ tag on them. It should never have been tough to get the 125 runs that they needed against India to qualify for the semi-finals, but they made a mess of it with some incredible shots being played by batsmen who had earlier in the tournament batted with no care in the world. Suddenly, when it came to getting to a minimum number of runs, the loss of early wickets got the tension up and the nerves were quite clearly frayed. It’s here that a young Indian team has shown that they were up to the challenge of the big moment and the big occasion. For Rohit Sharma to bat in the manner that he did was heartwarming, and if Joginder Sharma gets a bit more luck with fielders accepting chances and half-chances, then he would have better figures to show for it. He has lost some pace from the last time he played for India in limited-overs cricket in 2004, but surely he deserves more chances to show if he has the ‘bottle’ for the big occasion or not.

Mahendra Singh Dhoni has also impressed with his composure in tough situations and by not getting flustered at all. It surely cannot be easy to captain India with very little experience of leading even his state team, but he has taken to it with a calmness that promises much. Dravid’s resignation left everybody stunned, but luckily the selectors had already looked ahead and appointed Dhoni skipper for the Twenty20 and after the way he handled the pressure in the game against Pakistan, there was going to be no other candidate for the captaincy for the one-dayers against the world champs Australia when they visit straight after the Twenty20 tournament. Unless India get beaten badly and he himself loses his form, Dhoni will in all likelihood be the captain for the Tests as well. A split captaincy has its own problems, and so it might be a better idea to have one person captaining in both formats of the game, or should it now be said, all three formats of the game.

Soon after you read this, the ICC World Twenty20 will be over and the first champions will be crowned on Monday. Way back, when the first World Cup was played, everybody thought that England, because they played much more one-day cricket between their first-class counties than other countries, would win it, but they did not even make the final, and now everybody again thought that since the Twenty20 started in England and again between the counties, they would be a threat, if not win it, but look where they ended up, losing all three of their group matches and being thrown out of the tournament. It doesn’t matter how much one plays, but how well one plays that is important, and India, who have been reluctant embracers of this format, have surprised everyone by their performance in the latest format of the game. It’s cricket and it’s an unpredictable game indeed and the Twenty20 even more so.

Amen!

 
More Views by Sunil Gavaskar
  Results have been utterly disappointing for New Zealand
  National duty comes first
  One-day game is alive and well
  Dhoni bears the fury of the media
  Spirit of Cricket
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