Speaking about captaincy in his interview with the Guardian, Ian Chappell said:
“I also felt – and I think this is overlooked a bit – that it was your job to make the cricket interesting for the players. In doing that, you get the best out of your best players. If you make it dull and bloody boring for them, they’ll just go through the motions.”
When we read that, MS Dhoni immediately came to mind. You don’t think of him as being a boring player – certainly not in in his younger days – but his captaincy can seem really insipid, particularly in Tests and even more so when the match is getting away from him.
Dhoni’s supporters will say that he has to captain within his means; that he has to set defensive fields because of the bowlers he has at his disposal. But how much does the captain’s approach and attitude affect how those bowlers perform?
It isn’t about setting defensive fields, necessarily. It’s about setting interesting fields and asking the batsmen different questions. That can keep bowlers engaged and motivated where the same-old, same-old will not.
Is this unfair? Do you think Dhoni’s a predictable captain? Do you think he creates an environment where his players sometimes merely go through the motions?