Only Good Things Are Allowed to be Said About Players With Iconic Status, Says Sanjay Manjrekar on MS Dhoni
New Delhi: Former India cricketer and current commentator Sanjay Manjrekar joined VVS Laxman and Ajit Agarkar in criticizing Mahendra Singh Dhoni, the Indian wicketkeeper-batsman who led the side to inaugural World T20 Cup, then the 2011 World Cup and the ICC Champions Trophy 2013.
Manjrekar questioned the silence of fans and crowd on Dhoni’s declining form in T20 cricket and said it is affecting the team selections as well. “All this fanfare and worship is perhaps all right from a distance, but when they start influencing cricketing decisions, especially selection, it becomes a matter of concern,” wrote Manjrekar, in his recent column for ESPNcricinfo.
He added, “It’s in our DNA in India, isn’t it? We do not just make icons out of our sporting heroes, we also give them God-like status. But since we already have one God in cricket, Dhoni, I guess, will have to be something else.”
Manjrekar hit back on Dhoni, saying that his ability as a game-changer has decreased, and currently relies on other players in the team to win matches. “He (Dhoni) is not the game changer as often as he was in the past. Earlier, he could tonk four sixes off six balls at will, now he can hit only one. He now has to rely more on others to win games.”
Lately, Dhoni, who failed to tune up the run rate in the second T20I against New Zealand, has been heavily criticised by former cricketers, who think that the former skipper should retire from the shortest format of the game and make way for youngsters.
Even Manjrekar highlighted how youngsters have been deprived of opportunities due to biased team selection and picking players on the basis of their status and reputation.
“Reputation or status of a player should never be a factor in selection. The criteria must be the same for each player. Of course, past performance and quality are factors because great players can do special things, but while picking players, I would consider, apart from skills and fitness, how good they are as team players, their potential to contribute consistently, and what they can grow into,” Manjrekar explained.
“Kapil bowled at half his pace towards the end of his career, and though his bowling average was an impressive 27.15, his wicket-taking ability had gone down drastically: a mere 26 wickets in his last 24 innings.
“Undoubtedly his career dragged on longer than it should have. Worse it deprived a young and fiery Javagal Srinath the opportunity to be on the big stage when he was ripe.
“Tendulkar averaged 27 in his last 25 Test innings, but let alone questioning his place in the side, even a discussion about his future in the Indian team was sacrilege. Indian cricket is the loser when such things happen. This is a different age and I would have hoped that we had evolved from the Kapil and Tendulkar days,” he argued.