Headlines Today began with a mindless conversation on comparisons between Virat Kohli and Sourav Ganguly, but thanks to the legends of the game – Sourav Ganguly and Kapil Dev, they managed to pull the direction of the conversation to a sensible one. I enjoyed the debate and perceptions, and being a cricket writer and an avid follower, I share my views too.
There isn’t an element of doubt in anyone’s mind that when it comes to identifying talent it’s Sourav Ganguly who does it the best. Yes, for the last few years now Dada has rated Virat Kohli very highly and we see it very well why was that.
Virat Kohli’s splendid hundred on Tuesday at Hobart can very well go down in the books as one of the best ever ODI innings. The win has lifted the fallen spirits of the Indian cricket fans, lifted their mood and brought smiles to many faces. More importantly it made us all believe that through trying and perseverance anything can be achieved. Kohli is the trending topic everywhere – some calling him the next Tendulkar, some the next skipper, and some something else, but the point here is how often we divert from the present and think about the future or talk about past.
The moment that Kohli delivered must be enjoyed and all these talks can be there for later. Not many understand that, especially the media, but certainly Dada does! On Tuesday, on Headlines Today, Dada and our beloved Kapil Dev had an argument on certain issues, let me summarize their views and I will add mine:
Dada’s views on the current young batsmen in CB series: He rightly feels Virat Kohli is the best of the lot who have been given adequate chances to prove themselves. He feels Virat is much more technically suited for international cricket than Suresh Raina and Rohit Sharma. Raina’s inability to play well on back foot and struggle against short stuff has found him wanting in foreign conditions while Dada feels that technically Rohit and Virat maybe par but the latter scores over when it comes to application and temperament. Virat is much more determined and more hungry to win and contribute to the success where he finds Rohit too talented but very laid back.
Virat is also a Test material and technically better suited than even Yuvraj Singh, who Dada believes is an exceptional limited overs player but lacks at the Test level.
Kapil’s views on the current young batsmen in CB series: Rohit Sharma, Suresh Raina and Virat Kohli are all equally talented but Virat’s fighting nature and his eagerness to make chances count works in his favour. He is mentally very strong.
My views on the current young batsmen in CB series: I agree with Dada here but if I have to measure the talent of the three – I think Rohit Sharma to me is the most talented one. He is technically good and when he bats it seems he has bit more extra time. But yes, I would rate Virat higher because of his application and determination. What I have observed about Virat is that he doesn’t like defeats and always wants to win, also he knows his game very well and he plays around that. He has limitations but sticks to his strengths and unlike Rohit, he doesn’t go for extravagance.
Dada’s views on ‘if Virat is the next Tendulkar’: Dada was truly surprised by this comparison and refused to get much into it. He said Virat is a wonderful cricketer but there just cannot be a comparison.
Kapil’s views on ‘if Virat is the next Tendulkar’: Kapil feels that at this stage of the career (3000 ODI runs), Virat seems to be ahead but then to be called the next Sachin, one can say that only after he has played over a period of 10-12 years. He feels when Tendulkar played his cricket, it was the right time for him as there were simple two formats and the workload was much lesser. For Virat, focus is the key and it all depends on how he adjusts to that.
My views on ‘if Virat is the next Tendulkar’: Kapil is spot on here but then it’s funny to get into such a comparison. Cricket has gone easier; there aren’t the Donald’s, McGrath’s, Warne’s, Ambrose’s, Wasim’s and co any more. Those days 220 could win you games and Tendulkar floated around in the batting order. Also, if there has to be a comparison, the Tests should also be counted too, by this stage Tendulkar was already world’s premiere. I take nothing away from Virat and maybe he is destined to more greatness but at the moment, the comparison is unfair on the kid.
Dada on Manoj Tiwary: Dada has been quite vocal about Manoj’s inclusion in the team. He has never played lobby politics and even when Deep Dasguputa was picked, it was a selection on merit. Manoj, Dinda and Saha are the guys he asks to be included, and that’s strictly because of their ability and form. Dada was absolutely upset with Manoj not getting to play a single game, even when the likes of Rohit and Raina have time and again failed to contribute. He feels the decision-making should be fair and one’s opportunity should come at the expense of the other’s failure. He is upset with the way Raina and Jadeja have been persisted with – time and again, while Manoj has been simply unlucky.
Kapil on Manoj Tiwary: Kapil echoes exactly the same feelings and so does feels former cricketers like Sunil Gavaskar and even Mark Waugh. Kapil wants answers on why Manoj didn’t play a single game despite the fact that his last ODI innings was a hundred? Kapil feels a captain needs to be back his players but at the same time be fair.
My views on Manoj Tiwary: Agree with both – Dada and Kapil. I feel Manoj has been one of the unluckiest cricketers. He has been in the wings for five years now but has managed six ODIs and that talks about the unfairness meted out to him. With due respect to Rohit, Virat and Jadeja, I feel he would have already been a superstar by now, had he been given 30 international games. That’s why I feel Dada, as a captain was so important in building careers and now we miss someone like him.
Talents like Manoj, Irfan, Yusuf, etc. who are extraordinary talents are going for a toss. A guy like Yusuf Pathan, if given confidence, used well, and gets nurtured like how Shane Warne did to him, could by now have become an Andrew Symonds sort of an all-rounder. Luckily there was no other captain during the turn of the millennium or the world would not have heard of a name called ‘Virender Sehwag’.
Dada on captaincy of India: Dada has been too critical on MS Dhoni’s Test captaincy and feels let alone captaincy, going by his form with the bat; he doesn’t deserve a slot in the XI. He feels Sehwag should be the captain as he is one of the best Test cricketers and also he hasn’t got his dues as a captain. Dada feels that the eight away Test loses on a row is a bit too much to handle and the captain must be penalized for that as he has been uninspiring and also strategically poor.
However, Dada had contrasting views for the same skipper for ODIs and also T20s. He feels Dhoni is one of the best ever ODI cricketers and he has also looked much more comfortable while leading in the shorter versions. He feels the selectors should keep him as the leader of the ODI and T20 side, and start identifying different cricketers as per the formats.
Kapil on captaincy of India: Kapil’s views differed as he feels that the captain is as good as him team. He feels as of now Dhoni stilllooks to be the best bet as he has achieved a lot as a skipper. He feels Sehwag isn’t responsible enough to take on the job. He truly feels that Dhoni should be retained in all the formats and if he has to be replaced then the same rule should apply for the likes of Sachin Tedulkar and Rahul Dravid too.
My opinion on captaincy of India: To a certain degree, I agree with Dada. I feel Dhoni
should be sacked as a Test skipper as eight away loses are a bit too much to handle, and adding to the problem is his own form with the bat and also wicket-keeping, which was dismal in England. I think he should rather concentrate on his own performances and compete for a Test spot with Wriddhiman Saha and Dinesh Karthik. I would have liked Kohli to be the captain in all the formats but then here I feel it would be too much of a burden on him and maybe for a year, Sehwag or Tendulkar can shoulder the responsibility. Tendulkar, why not? He can lead till the next Border Gavaskar Trophy in India, March 2012 and then call it quits, with Kohli interning under him. But I don’t see that happening, so Sehwag is the one I feel can also do the job.
In ODIs maybe Kohli can intern under Dhoni for a while and then take over. The fact that Dhoni is an all time ODI great can’t be ignored. For a year, maybe persist with him and after that let Kohli take over the reins.
T20 is a format, which I feel India doesn’t take seriously and that too despite of IPL. In the recent times we have seen teams like England, Australia, South Africa, etc. have identified a different set of players for this format and they play them even if it’s a two match series, but for India it’s been different, we generally field the same ODI players that have been picked. I feel the likes of Dhoni and Gambhir should quit this format and we should name Kohli the leader of T20. Dhoni’s international T20 record is below par and I feel someone like Robin Uthappa can replace him, while for Gambhir, with due respect to all his success it doesn’t help the fact that he isn’t a good fielder, can’t bowl part time and if he isn’t leading the side, then there can be younger options like Manoj Tiwary or a Manish Pandey groomed as a T20 opener.
I feel it’s high time we have saner heads on the selection panel or the coaching staff, which includes the likes of Dada, Kapil Dev, Anil Kumble or Sunil Gavaskar. Due to their restriction in media engagements they often hesitate for these roles, but to take Indian cricket forward, we need visionaries, disciplinarians, and passionate yet intelligent men like them.