Indian captain M S Dhoni’s tactical acumen received praise from the English media even as they subjected the home team captain Alastair Cook to serious grilling after the defeat in the second Test.
Drawing comparisions between the two captains, the Daily Telegraph said the Indian had outsmarted the hosts’ leader. The paper praised Dhoni’s many tactics, especially peppering the England batsmen with short balls in the second innings.
“Dhoni has made a career out of doing the unexpected,” the paper wrote. “Regular Indian Premier League watchers see it every few days with unusual selections and bowling changes and batting promotions, and most famously in the 2011 World Cup final when, despite being hopelessly out of form, he promoted himself to No 5 and won the match with a superbly calculated 91 not out. He did it without even consulting Gary Kirsten, the India coach.
“But the reality is good captains are given not made, and now he has ‘England bounced out by India’ on his CV. It’s like being beaten by Zimbabwe at sailing.”
The Independent was critical of England’s fast bowlers who failed to restrict India in the first innings. “Since England were provided with a pitch to die for, this was a significant reversal. Their bowlers, especially the vaunted duet of Jimmy Anderson and Stuart Broad, who are considered cricketing royalty, were outsmarted by their more canny and sensible India counterparts.”
Cook has been retained as captain for the third Test but in their newspaper columns, former cricketers were unanimous in their view that he should take a break from the game.
“I know the England and Wales Cricket Board has invested a lot of time and effort in Cook’s captaincy but sometimes you have to accept that something is not working. Stubbornness is a useful character trait when you are an opening batsman. But when it comes to decision-making, it can be damaging,” former captain Michael Vaughan wrote in his column for Daily Telegraph.
Former England opener Boycott was also firm in his view that it’s time for Cook to go. “Now that Alastair Cook has declined to give up the captaincy for the benefit of the team, will the England set-up have the balls to sack him?,” Boycott wrote in his column for the same paper.Former England all-rounder and Test captain Ian Botham said the burden of captaincy is definitely weighing Cook down.
“In my opinion he needs a break from the job and the game. I feel for the captain, he’s been the hero and he scored hundreds for fun in his first few games in charge, but now he is patting back half-volleys and nicking wide balls,” Botham wrote in the Mirror.