Mahendra Singh Dhoni has the obvious excuse of injured personnel to fall back on for explaining away why India performed so disastrously in the first two Tests of the India England series. But the Indian captain has also raised the issue of a grinding cricket calendar and the fact that India are playing seven Tests on the trot, opening up a whole other can of worms altogether.
Dhoni appears to have more answers by way of excuses than solutions and understandably so since he is working with a limited squad hit by injuries to several players and a general lack of will and spirit in the Indian cricket team uncharacteristic of the no.1 Test team.
Following the 319 run defeat in the second Test at Trent Bridge, Dhoni was once again put through the paces of a post match press conference as the Indian media sought to explain why the team that came into the series as the top ranked Test team could not even present a solid face even when defeat loomed. In finding plausible clause for why the Indian cricket team has struggled, Dhoni sought to play up the injured players and from his perspective, he is within his right to do so.
But Dhoni also stated that for some of the cricketers it was a case of playing seven Tests on the trot. He cited the three Tests played in the Caribbean as the reason why some of the Indian cricketers appeared tired and not quite upto the task against the determination and polish with which the England cricket team operated. While Dhoni himself was part of the tour of the Caribbean, for Ishant Sharma, it was essentially about finding his rhythm and what made him unique which was his pace and bounce while for Praveen Kumar, it was about making his Test debut and getting the exposure and taste for the challenges that lay ahead.
To an extent, it is understandable that the captain would provide his first hand experience of what the team is experiencing. But if the same had to be said for all players, it makes little sense that Rahul Dravid, at thirty-eight years of age, is continuing to soldier on almost like a one-man army. While it is accepted that individuals do differ greatly in their degree of mental and physical preparedness, what is disturbing to understand is that the captain has chosen this line of approach where he is picturing a seven Test series lining up instead of differentiating the tour of the West Indies as a way of adapting to the Test format after lengthy time spent in the one day and Twenty20 format.
If Dhoni is referring to the tiredness of seven Tests, it has to be remembered that only three were played before India came to England, in which case the captain’s statements could be indirectly inferred to mean that it cannot just be the one tour of the West Indies preceding India’s tour of England that has the team tired but rather the hectic grind that has been the ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 followed by the IPL 4 season and that is something the players will have to take up wit the board.