The importance of a good wicketkeeper in the team cannot be underestimated. India just learned that lesson in a harsh way during the Second Test at Centurion, South Africa. As a result, most probably we will get to see three different Indian wicketkeepers in as many Tests as Dinesh Karthik has been called into action to replace injured Wriddhiman Saha.
The current keeper Parthiv Patel missed a crucial chance off the edge of Elgar in the first innings.
Indian cricketing legend Sunil Gavaskar was incensed at this and rightly pointed out the weaknesses in Parthiv’s keeping. Gavaskar also went on to suggest that Dhoni’s retirement from red ball cricket was premature.
“If Dhoni wanted to carry on, he could have carried on. Clearly, I think he might have had too much of captaincy [burden]. I would have actually liked him to maybe give up captaincy and still stay in the team as wicketkeeper-batsman because his advice in the dressing room would have been invaluable. Maybe he thought that the best course for him was to not to be there” said Gavaskar.
MS Dhoni the current wicketkeeper-batsman for India in coloured clothing, retired from Test cricket in 2014 handing over the reins to Virat Kohli. The gloves were taken by the Bengali wicketkeeper Wriddhiman Saha who has a solid keeping technique and a handy lower order batsman.
When it comes to captaining away from home, MS Dhoni and Virat Kohli have a similar record in their first 12 Tests. Both had two losses and five(Dhoni)-six (Kohli) victories. But since Virat is yet to captain India in England & Australia, let’s reserve judgment.
How was MS Dhoni as wicketkeeper-batsman though? The data tells us that he was the best. His away batting average of 32.84 is best amongst Indian wicketkeepers who have played more than one away Test. MS Dhoni is just ahead of the flamboyant Farokh Engineer who averages 32.67
Dhoni’s away batting average is way ahead of its contemporaries despite playing at least three times more matches than them. Saha (29.47 in 14 matches), Parthiv Patel (24.68) and Dinesh Karthik (17.33) have not been able to match MS Dhoni’s batting prowess in foreign conditions.
What do you think? Should Dhoni have stayed longer in Test Cricket, let us hear your opinions.
*Photo from Getty Images