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If it's true, current Indian skipper has done what many in the past have threatened to do

Sunday, November 23, 2021



Dhoni in Tiger's footsteps


SK Sham

If anything had to spoil the dream run of the present Indian team, it had to be something snapping within. The rift in the lute has come in the form of a reported conflict between captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni and the selectors. The debate over the continuation of RP Singh in the ongoing ODI series against England had come to such a head that Dhoni had threatened to quit as captain if RP Singh was dropped.

The situation turned so piquant that it had called for the direct intervention of BCCI president Shashank Manohar to resolve the issue, The selection committee may have had the last say in the matter, but a needless change may have an adverse effect on the team. According to observers, the trademark Dhoni smile was missing, as he came out of the selection committee meeting at Kanpur last Thursday.

A captain offering to resign on a matter of team selection is nothing new in Indian cricket. During the 1958-59 season, the conflict was so rampant that the for five-match Test series against the West Indies, there were as many as four different captains. To make things worse, no less than 27 players were tried out by the selection committee headed by Lala Amarnath.

After the first Test at Bombay, Polly Umrigar pleaded with the selectors to be relieved of his responsibility of captaincy, as he did not get the team he wanted. A reluctant Ghulam Ahmed led the side in the next two Tests at Kanpur and Calcutta and then resigned as captain. The selection committee, desperate to get the right man for the job, finally pinned their faith in Vinoo Mankad, who too quit after the fourth Test at Madras.

As if, three captains and a motley of players in four Tests were not enough, there had to be one more new captain and some more untried players. The mantle of captaincy fell on veteran Hemu Adhikari, an armyman, for the final Test at Delhi. No one had had any doubt about the outcome of the series, which was a 5-0 drubbing for India. 

Later, as a successful captain, it was the turn of Mansur Ali Khan, the Nawab of Pataudi, to call the shots when the general body of the BCCI met to appoint a manager for the tour of Australia in 1967-68. In those days, the tour manager's post was a reward for some good work done in the matter of gathering votes. A man from Cuttack, who had not played even domestic cricket, was not acceptable to Tiger Pataudi. The BCCI did not budge and Pataudi threatened to resign as captain. Finally, the top-brass of the BCCI buckled and Pataudi was allowed a manager of his choice. He picked Ghulam Ahmed, who had earlier held that post on a couple occasions.

The BCCI will doggedly maintain that no player is bigger than the game, but then there can be no argument that the captain must get the team he thinks is the best for the occasion, more so, in the case of a successful skipper.


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