Undoubtedly Mahendra Singh Dhoni has been one of India’s most influential cricket captains. However, what waits to be seen is whether he has it in him to leave behind a great legacy.

Former Spain manager Luis Aragones passed away on Saturday in Madrid and although it is Vincent del Bosque who has engineered 2 triumphs (the World Cup and the European Championships) for La Roja, it is Aragones who is rightly being hailed as the man who started it all by introducing the now fabled ‘tiki taka’ brand of football.

After Spain’s exit from the World Cup in 2006, Aragones dropped the established stars like Raul and Co. from the team and started rebuilding with a team of skilled, young footballers who were able to play the short passing game that has now become famous the world over. Aragones died at the age of 75 but he has left behind a team, a philosophy of football that could dominate world football for many years to come and that is where his legacy as a leader lies, although he only has one international trophy to show for it- Spain’s first trophy in 44 years; the European Championships of 2008.
Dhoni1 300x194 Can Dhoni Build a Team?
What is the legacy of a modern day captain in international cricket? The number of wins for a start, the trophies, the away Test series wins, the World Cups and last but certainly not the least by any stretch of imagination is his ability to build a winning team from scratch.  A captain in a cricket team plays a similar role as a manager in football and in that regard Mahendra Singh Dhoni comes across as a remarkably successful captain, although it still remains to be seen whether he can leave behind a formidable team once he hangs up his boots. Dhoni inherited a team that was built by Sourav Ganguly and then nurtured by Rahul Dravid. People might not consider Dravid’s reign as being pivotal but barring the debacle of the 2007 World Cup, it was an extremely successful period for Indian cricket punctuated with away Test series wins in the West Indies and England.

So, all in all it can be said that Dhoni did not exactly inherit a team that was in shambles, contrary to the views held by certain sections of the fan base but it needs to be pointed out that he consolidated the fortunes of the team brilliantly culminating to the memorable win in the World Cup in 2011. Even in that team, that brought the World Cup back to India after a painful wait of 28 years, the majority of the members were those whose careers started post Dhoni’s promotion as captain, barring perhaps the exceptions of Kohli and Ashwin. However, the rapid retirements, loss of form of players like Sehwag, Harbhajan and Gambhir at the top of the order and illness as well as fitness concerns for players like Zaheer and Yuvraj has provided Dhoni with the perfect opportunity to build a team that could be looked upon as his greatest legacy in the years to come.

World cup1 300x298 Can Dhoni Build a Team?
In that regard it must be said that Dhoni made a fine start by winning the ICC Champions’ Trophy in England last year with a new look team brimming with youngsters but from then on the tours of South Africa and New Zealand (so far) have been humbling experiences for him as well as for the team. People might not realise it as yet but India is well and truly in transition with most of the stars of the past either retired or on the verge of retirement with the World Cup in 2015 looming large in which India would need to put up a credible title defence. India currently has a pair of new opening batsmen in both Tests and limited overs cricket, which have not exactly reached the heights of the Sehwag-Gambhir partnership as yet and with tough tours coming up in England; it must be a headache for the captain considering his woeful record in overseas Tests. Ashwin looks a different bowler overseas and is largely ineffective in unhelpful conditions; Dhoni has persisted with him thus far, however the discovery of Ravindra Jadeja as a reliable spinner is certainly something for which Dhoni must be credited.

One thing that has been pointed out recently is that Dhoni seems to stick with players who might not be performing at all for too long like in case of Suresh Raina who was dropped after a run of poor scores dating back more than a year, while Yuvraj was dropped with alarming haste. A team cannot survive only on the back of a group of talented green horns and while Dhoni’s persistence with players in which he believes must be hailed, a captain must also look to have an experienced backbone that can see out certain tough situations in which the team might find itself in. In that regard, it still remains to be seen whether Dhoni can build a team for the future considering the fact that he himself might not be playing for more than a handful of years beyond the next World Cup. He does not have time on his side for perhaps his most important mission as an Indian captain.

Dhoni is one of the most respected cricketers in India and will certainly go down in history as one of its best captains, however it remains to be seen if he can retire as one of the most influential captains in Indian cricket history. For that to happen he must be able to create a team that could be trusted as the future of Indian cricket for many years to comes and if that happens then he could be regarded as perhaps the most influential Indian cricket ever had; someone who won plenty of trophies, but also built a team for his successor to consolidate. 

By Soham Samaddar

Also See:
Is Dhoni the Right Man to Lead India in Test Cricket?
Oh Dear – Dhoni, Dhoni, Dhoni – What Have You Done !!
Have The New ODI Rules Killed the Charm of the ODI Game?

Image Source: Mahendra Singh Dhoni@facebook, Mahendra Singh Dhoni@facebook

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