Former Australian player Greg Chappell has lauded MS Dhoni as “one of the sharpest cricket minds”, stating his strategic acumen and decision-making “set him apart from many of his peers”.
The Australian great, who served Indian cricket in the capacity of chief coach between 2005 to 2007 in a controversy-ridden tenure, has often spoken highly of Dhoni for his leadership abilities and success as India’s captain.
Dhoni began his international career in the Sourav Ganguly-John Wright era, but flourished and made his name known across the cricketing world when Chappell took the coaching charge. Chappell, while giving Dhoni’s example as someone who built himself in the natural environment, rued the absence of such players in the international circuit now.
“The Indian subcontinent still has many towns where coaching facilities are rare and youngsters play in streets and on vacant land without the interference of formal coaching. This is where many of their current stars have learned the game.
“One of them is Dhoni, who came from the town of Ranchi in Jharkhand. MS Dhoni, with whom I worked in India, is a good example of a batter who developed his talent and learned to play in this fashion,” Chappell wrote.
“By competing against more experienced individuals on a variety of surfaces early in his development, Dhoni developed the decision-making and strategic skills that have set him apart from many of his peers. His is one of the sharpest cricket minds I have encountered,” he added.
Too structured environments, excessive focus on technique dehumanize cricket: Greg Chappell
The 73-year-old further opined on England’s recent struggle in the longest format of the game, conceding the Ashes 0-4 to Australia away from home.
“England, on the other hand, have very few of these natural environments and their players are produced in a narrow band of public schools, with an emphasis on the coaching manual. This is why their batting has lost much of its flair and resilience.”
Highlighting the need of making players learn problem-solving and decision-making naturally and decreasing the excessive focus on structured training in the modern-day, he noted: “The games that young people make up and play are dynamic and foster creativity, joy, flexibility in technical execution, tactical understanding and decision-making, which are often missing in batting at the highest levels.
“Invariably when an adult gets involved with kids playing cricket, they break up the game and kill its energy by emphasizing correct technique.
“This reduces a dynamic, engaging environment that promotes learning to a flat and lifeless set of drills that do little to improve batting in games,” Chappell said having highly structured settings is not the right way to go.
“The growth in structured training in the preparation of batters has not only failed to take batting forward, it has actually resulted in a decline in batting. Highly structured environments, and an excessive focus on teaching players to perform “correct” technique, dehumanize cricket.”