“Facts are ventriloquist’s dummies. Sitting on a wise man’s knee they may be made to utter words of wisdom; elsewhere, they say nothing, or talk nonsense, or indulge in sheer diabolism.” Despite this warning, one cannot speak cricket without relying on statistics. Cricket journalism days of Neville Cardus or even Peter Roebuck are gone; the beauty of the game has lost its way in the bulk of numbers. World cricket has seen emergence of effective cricketers in the era of sheer professionalism; MSD is a by-product of this genre of cricket. Gifted with numbers which can be used to compare with some of the greatest cricket heroes of all time, MS Dhoni has become successful in becoming the demi-god of world’s largest cricket playing nation. If you go by mere facts, Dhoni has indeed achieved numerous extraordinary feats.
Highest ODI score by a wicket-keeper batsman:
A young MS, with his out-of-cricket-book helicopter shot in his arsenal, scored a handy 183* against Sri Lanka in 145 balls and wrote the script of a comfortable win. His innings is still the highest by a wicket-keeper, followed by Gilchrist’s 172 against Zimbabwe and Sangakkara’s 169 against South Africa. Mesmerised by the spark of that innings, Indians still overlook the fact that it took 2 years for MSD to bag another ton.
Most stumpings in international cricket:
As soon as the Indian skipper stumped Alastair Cook at Trent Bridge a few days ago, he became the keeper with most stumpings, taking all three formats into account. Currently, he holds the record with 131 stumpings. His Sri Lankan counterpart Sangakkara is closely behind. The comparison between the two is given below.
India’s best captain in ODI: (Or one should say, highest winning percentage?)
Along with Mohammad Azharuddin, MS holds the most number of wins as an Indian captain. Both of them won 90 matches, while Dhoni took 161 matches as compared to Azhar’s 174 matches. With still a few years left on his career, Dhoni should feel comfortable that this record cannot be broken in near future. Moreover, he has laid his hands in the well-deserved ICC World Cup trophy which has lifted his success to a whole new level.
May be he is effective in colored jersey formats of cricket, he can be the best finisher of the game, or what is more vital that he has a winning luck, but all these never justify why he can be considered a great cricketer in classical sense or why he should not be dropped from the test cricket after the bitter performances in foreign soil, his individual overseas average happens to be below 30. Though under his captaincy India has touched the no1 spot in ICC test and ODI rankings and has won 2 world cups, but that cannot be the reason why he should be allowed to continue captaining India for some indefinite period of time. MSD has some serious issue with his technique and temperament. In some recent test matches, it is seen that he tries to be more conservative and plays excessive defensive shots early in his innings which is not his style. Finally, after scoring only a few runs, he loses his patience and succumbs to some easy delivery.
Does this mean MSD is a less talented cricketer? No. What it shows is that he is basically overachieving. Protected by a battalion of numbers, records as well as IPL, and being overhyped by the mass, his lack of skills in batting technique and inability to create a symphony with the bat will remain overshadowed; but as long as you can be effective- who cares!