30 December 2014

No surprise that Dhoni has retired from Tests

Funnily enough I found myself wondering why MS Dhoni was still playing Tests earlier in the Australia/India series - he's now made the decision to retire from Tests with immediate effect.   He had to miss the 1st Test but it didn't feel there was any great clamour to get him into the side - there was a clear contrast to Michael Clarke who was pictured working with the physio a lot desperately trying to get himself fit.   Clearly an element of that is the way the Western media portrays the two captains, but I couldn't help thinking that in Tests Dhoni is an also-ran where as in ODIs and Twenty20s he's a match winner.   

In ODIs and Twenty20s Dhoni's captaincy also seems to suit the game - the batsmen can't defend for long periods.   In Tests Dhoni's "wait for the batsman to make a mistake" style of captaincy doesn't work, particularly against the tail.   There was an interesting tweet from Andy Zaltzman last night - at that point Australia's first 6 wickets had averaged 44 per wicket against India's 52.4, while wickets 7-10 had averaged 62.4 for Australia versus 14.1 from India's lower order.   I'd love to see the analysis of that over a number of captain's careers - I suspect Dhoni would come off very unfavourably, and I don't think Alastair Cook would fare too well either.

Another potential benefit for the game as a whole, not to mention the Indian team, is that Dhoni has never got behind the use of the umpire review system.   Given that some wrong decisions have gone against India in this series, I wonder if Dhoni was under pressure internally to change his stance and accept it.   One of his strengths is that he has a clear view of things and stays true to that vision - that may be to his detriment on DRS given that his original stance (that it wasn't 100% accurate) didn't reflect the overwhelming cricket majority who just want to see more correct decisions, however they're made.

Kohli's ready so Dhoni can concentrate on the form of the game he appears to enjoy more.   Journalists can look forward to more exciting press conferences, and Dhoni can concentrate on ODIs and Twenty20.   He'll be around one month away from his 38th birthday when the 2019 World Cup is played in England so that could be a realistic aim now he's not playing Tests, but equally Dhoni may feel that he's done enough - he certainly doesn't need to play any format of cricket for the money.

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