As if the morass of abject surrenders followed by relentless criticism from all quarters were not enough, conflicts and issues within the side have now come gushing to the fore – raising several queries about the morale of the Indian team.
As reported by Navneet Mundhra of cricketnext, a member of the Indian team has disclosed that captain MS Dhoni has lodged a complaint against Gautam Gambhir to the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), branding the attitude of the left-handed opening batsman as ‘selfish’ and ‘hurtful to the team’.
According to the report, “What irked Dhoni was Gambhir playing for himself and not for the team. It was evident in the way Gambhir batted in the second innings of the Mumbai Test that he was more interested in carrying his bat by remaining not out, rather than shielding the tailenders and scoring quick runs.”
Far from being tucked away in distant corners beyond the reach of short-term memory, the inexplicable approach of Gambhir at Mumbai gained further prominence during the following Test at Kolkata, when Virender Sehwag and Cheteshwar Pujara were run out at crucial junctures with the southpawat the other end quite clearly the culprit on each occasion.
It is not that the ire of Dhoni is unjustified. Indeed, CricketCountry had published a ball by ball summary of how Gambhir tried to secure his wicket on that final morning at Wankhede. Gambhir’s approach had defied all logic but for the one that is rooted in survival of the individual.
And a captain taking up the issue with his cricket board is not really surprising – at least in a country where every industry runs on a complicated structure of escalations.
Dhoni being miffed about the run-outs is also understandable. As disclosed in the report of cricketnext, the source who revealed the murky development went on to say, “On both occasions, Gambhir was at fault. While there were clearly three runs in Sehwag's case which Gambhir declined, the call for a run to Pujara was ill-judged. He was having a tough time against Steven Finn and wanted to get off the strike. His desperation cost Pujara his wicket. Dhoni doesn't have doubts about his integrity or commitment. Gambhir, obviously, didn't do anything deliberately. It's just that in his struggle to overcome poor form, he is overlooking team's interest and remains oblivious of team goals. This has not gone down well with Dhoni, who is determined to win the Nagpur Test and level the series, and he conveyed his thoughts to the BCCI officials in no uncertain terms.”
However, what is disturbing about the entire issue is the bad blood within the team that has spilled out into the open. First of all, a member of the Indian team thought it prudent to leak the information that could have stayed closeted in the higher echelons of the management. Besides, there are many fingers being pointing at Dhoni, accusing him of passing the buck and criticising his batsmen and spinners. According to a good proportion of the vocal critics, Dhoni’s censure of his teammates – particularly Sehwag and Gambhir – is caused by his own insecurity at the helm.
And in the process lots of dirty linen, which should have been kept secure in the same cupboard that houses the many skeletons of Indian cricket, have been washed candidly in public.
It is indeed difficult to ascertain the inner workings of the mind of MS Dhoni or the dynamics in the team without implementing the popular journalistic technique of clairvoyance. However, one thing is certain: the captain and the team – hounded as they are now by public, press and ex-cricketers alike – will continue to be targeted with barbs and brickbats until they reverse the current trend and get back to winning ways.
(Arunabha Sengupta is a cricket historian and Chief Cricket Writer at CricketCountry. He writes about the history and the romance of the game, punctuated often by opinions about modern day cricket, while his post-graduate degree in statistics peeps through in occasional analytical pieces. The author of three novels, he can be followed on Twitter at http://twitter.com/senantix)
First Published: December 13, 2012, 8:47 am